GLENDALE, Arizona – Cristofer Rosales put one in the win column for Nicaragua over Mexico in the first of two matchups on the night between the two countries.
It came on a night where he was meant to serve as a test for a rising prospect in Mexico’s Joselito Velazquez. It turned out to be too much, too soon for the 29-year-old from Oaxaca, Mexico, as Rosales prevailed in a well-earned ten round, unanimous decision.
Judges Dennis O’Connell (97-93), Tim Cheatham (97-93) and Chris Wilson (97-93) all ruled in favor of Rosales, a former WBC flyweight titlist who pulled off a minor upset in the opening bout of a DAZN telecast Saturday evening from Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Velazquez initiated the action early, forcing a fast pace against Rosales. The unbeaten flyweight split the guard of Rosales, landing a clean right hand upstairs. The sequence was followed by body work, though Rosales was quick to adjust. The taller and younger boxer-puncher from Managua hooked off the jab, doing enough to at least keep Velazquez honest.
Chants of ‘Mexico’ filled the venue as Velazquez—trained by Eddy Reynoso—intensified his attack in round two. Rosales stood directly in front of Velazquez, who slammed home a right hand that drew a rise out of the early arriving crowd.
Rosales came back with a vengeance at the start of round three, landing a combination that drew a rise out of his passionate corner. An overhand right by Rosales snapped back the head of Velazquez, who quickly returned to his jab. Rosales continued to apply pressure to close out a terrific bounce back round for the former titlist.
Velazquez rediscovered his swagger in round four. Body work help set up a clean right hand to the chin of Rosales, who remained upright but was pushed across the ring by the impact of the blow.
The left hook to the body continued to play an integral role in Velazquez’s offense. Rosales struggled to defend against the shot, though he managed to take the lead in the second half of the round. Velazquez was game for the cause, landing an uppercut but also leaving himself open for combination punching from long range by Rosales.
Alternating battle cries of ‘Nicaragua’ and ‘Mexico’ were indicative of the two-way action throughout a fiercely paced sixth round. Rosales landed several right hands, while Velazquez returned to a steady stream of volume punching.
Velazquez went left hand heavy in the seventh, landing left hooks to the body from long range. Rosales refused to back down, coming forward and throwing tight shots down the middle. He was a bit too brave for his own good as a left hook to the chin by Velazquez forced the Nicaraguan on his heels in the final ten seconds.
Rosales thought he was onto something in landing a left hook body shot and a right hand upstairs midway through round eight. Velazquez immediately returned fire, connecting with combinations in succession. Rosales was able to close the round strong with the same one-two with which he found success throughout the fight.
There wasn’t any let up in the pace in round nine, though Rosales offered the more disciplined attack. Velazquez used constant movement though not always with purpose as he appeared to ride out Rosales’ offensive swarm. Velazquez responded to the ten-second alert by letting his hands go, though Rosales was prepared for the tactic.
Rosales drove Velazquez across the ring with a combination upstairs in the first minute of the final round. Velazquez bit down and regained his composure but struggled to keep the relentless Rosales at bay down the stretch.
Rosales improved to 35-6 (21KOs), picking up his third consecutive win and ended his 2022 campaign going 4-1. He also gained redemption in the greater Phoenix area, where he fell short in a ninth-round knockout loss to Julio Cesar Martinez in their December 2019 WBC flyweight title fight.
Velazquez suffered his first career defeat as he fell to 15-1-1 (10KOs).
Headlining the show is the second Mexico-Nicaragua matchup, as lineal junior bantamweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada (43-3, 28KOs) of Hermosillo, Mexico faces Managua’s legendary former four-division champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (51-3, 41KOs) in their highly anticipated rubber match.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox