By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Diego De La Hoya passed what was supposed to be the toughest test of his four-year pro career surprisingly easily Saturday night.
The super bantamweight contender got off to a fast start against previously undefeated Randy Caballero, and appeared poised and in control throughout their 10-round bout. Mexico’s De La Hoya, a cousin of retired superstar-turned-promoter Oscar De La Hoya, won a unanimous decision as all three judges – Eric Cheek (98-92), Robert Hoyle (100-90) and Patricia Morse Jarman (98-92) – scored him the winner by comfortable margins.
The 23-year-old De La Hoya improved to 20-0 and won the NABF 122-pound championship from Caballero. Caballero (24-1, 14 KOs), of Coachella, California, had hoped defeat De La Hoya and rejuvenate his career nearly two years after he lost his IBF bantamweight title on the scale.
Caballero connected with several flush punches in the 10th round, but it was far too little, far too late.
De La Hoya spent the ninth round bombarding a game-but-beaten Caballero with right hands and left hooks. An overhand right to the side of Caballero’s jaw was his most effective punch in those three minutes.
By the eighth round, De La Hoya showed he was in complete command of the fight. He landed multiple combinations that snapped back Caballero’s head in the final 30 seconds of the eighth.
De La Hoya landed a hard left hand to Caballero’s body that made Caballero backtrack around the midway point of the seventh round.
An accidental clash of heads hurt Caballero in the fifth round. Caballero backed into ropes after it happened, but he was able to recover quickly.
The accidental head-butt also appeared to be the cause of swelling beneath Caballero’s left eye.
In the previous round, De La Hoya caught Caballero with a hard, overhand right just before its halfway point. Caballero connected with an effective right hand of his own a little later in the fourth, perhaps .
De La Hoya landed a crisp combination in the middle of the third round. He also connected with a left hook and two right hands later in the third, and moved out of harm’s way before Caballero could come back with shots of his own.
De La Hoya got off to a fast start by landing left hooks and right hands in the first two rounds.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.