LAS VEGAS – Arnold Barboza Jr. delivered Saturday night on his promise to go after Alex Saucedo the way he feels Sonny Fredrickson refused to do in Saucedo’s previous fight.
Barboza, believed to be the less puncher entering their 10-rounder, often took the fight to the more established Saucedo. He didn’t hurt Saucedo, but the unbeaten Barboza out-landed Saucedo and overcame a seventh-round knockdown to record the biggest victory of his seven-year pro career.
Barboza (25-0, 10 KOs), of South El Monte, California, won their entertaining encounter by unanimous decision, as judges Max De Luca (97-92), Dave Moretti (96-93) and Patricia Morse Jarman (97-92) scored their fight for him at MGM Grand Conference Center. ESPN televised Barboza-Saucedo as the co-featured bout before the main event between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez.
Oklahoma City’s Saucedo slipped to 30-2 (19 KOs).
Saucedo seemingly needed a knockout entering the final round to beat Barboza.
A left hook by Barboza landed about 45 seconds into the 10th round. Barboza blasted Saucedo with a right hand with 1:35 to go in the final round.
Barboza’s left-right combination caught Saucedo with just under a minute to go in the eighth round.
Referee Celestino Ruiz didn’t credit Saucedo for knocking Barboza to the canvas in the seventh round. Saucedo landed a left hand as Barboza was moving away from him, which sent Barboza into a squatting position and made him use his left glove to keep from falling to the canvas.
After a replay review between the seventh and eighth rounds, Saucedo was credited with scoring that knockdown.
Barboza didn’t appear hurt when he got up from that punch, though.
Barboza lunged and landed a left hook just before the halfway point of the sixth round. Barboza hit Saucedo with a right hand just before the sixth round concluded.
Saucedo’s right hand moved Barboza backward with just over a minute remaining in the fifth round. Barboza and Saucedo traded hard head and body punches throughout an entertaining sequence toward the end of the fifth round.
Barboza and Saucedo traded body and head shots near the center of the ring with about a minute to go in the fourth round. Barboza drilled Saucedo with a right hand that turned his head around and backed him up with about 40 seconds to go in the fourth.
A left-right combination by Barboza landed about 1:10 into the third round. An overhand right by Barboza connected just after the halfway point of the third.
Both boxers landed a lot of punches during an action-packed second round in which Barboza and Saucedo had success. Barboza snapped back Saucedo’s head with a left hook about 1:20 into the opening round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.