By Francisco Salazar
ONTARIO, California--Facing a last-minute replacement could be tough on any fighter, especially a young prospect.
Giovani Santillan did not know what to expect facing a new foe on Friday night, but he was able to get the job done in quick fashion.
Santillan stopped Eduardo Rivera in the first round at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California. The eight-round bout headlined a six-bout "Path to Glory" card, presented by Thompson Boxing Promotions.
Santillan was scheduled to fight Rafael Cobos, but Cobos backed out of the fight to take a fight against Erickson Lubin on March 6.
Rivera was scheduled to fight Cesar Villarraga on Friday night in preliminary action. When the Santillan-Cobos fight fell through, Rivera took the fight against Santillan and Jesus Angulo ended up being a last-minute replacement for Villarraga.
Both fighters sized each other up in the first minute of the opening round. Seeing an opening, Rivera went in on the attack, but he mostly threw wide punches. Rivera mostly missed, allowing the southpaw Santillan to counter to the head. Rivera did not let up in his attack, but was hurt by a punch that wobbled him against the ropes. Santillan went in for the kill, dropping Rivera to the canvas with a barrage of punches. Referee Ray Corona began to administer a count, but waved it off at 2:28.
Santillan goes to 16-0, 9 KOs, while Rivera falls to 9-2-2, 2 KOs.
Junior featherweight Isaac Zarate won an unpopular eight round unanimous decision over Pedro Melo. The southpaw Zarate (10-1-1, 1 KO) scored a knockdown midway through the first round, landing what looked like a left hand to the head of Melo. Melo did well when he was able to get on the inside of Zarate's guard in the first half of the fight, while Zarate rained down more left hands to the head of Melo during those exchanges.
In the second half of the fight, Melo scored more to the head, landing right hands to the head. It was easy for Melo to land to the head due to Zarate keeping his hands down by his waist. Both fighters landed at will in the final round until the final bell sounded. All three judge scored the bout in favor of Zarate, 78-73, 78-73, and 79-72. The decision was met with a loud cascade of boos by the crowd.
Welterweight Taras Shelestyuk (11-0, 8 KOs) overwhelmed Francisco Reza from the opening bell, eventually stopping the Mexican fighter in the third round. The southpaw Shelestyuk, who won a Bronze medal in the 2012 Olympic Games, landed almost at will to the head of Reza. Midway through the first round, Shelestyuk dropped Reza with a barrage of punches.
Undaunted, Reza (13-12, 10 KOs) tried to fight back, but none of his punches had any effect on Shelestyuk. As the bout progressed, referee Ray Corona kept taking a closer look at Reza, but allowed the action to continue. About one minute into the third round, Shelestyuk hurt Reza with a combination to the head. Reza backed into a corner and tried to fight back. As Shelestyuk went in for the kill, Reza's corner threw in the towel, prompting referee Ray Corona to stop the bout at 1:26.
With the win, Shelestyuk will likely return to action in April on an ESPN2 telecast.
Lightweight Cesar Villarraga stopped Jesus Angulo (3-7, 2 KOs) in the first round of a scheduled six round bout. Villarraga (6-0, 4 KOs) dropped Angulo with a right-left combination to the head, dropping him hard to the canvas. Referee Raul Caiz, Jr. began to administer an eight-count, but waved the fight over at 1:55. Villarraga represented Colombia in the 2012 Olympic Games.
In a minor upset, flyweight Gilberto Mendoza won a six round unanimous decision over Francisco Lapizco. Mendoza (5-4, 1 KO) was busier than Lapzico, scoring on the inside with straight or compact punches. Lapizco (7-1, 2 KOs) did better in the middle rounds, but began to slow down in the fifth round. Mendoza pressed the action in the sixth and final round, which likely swung the fight in his favor. All three judges scored the bout in favor of Mendoza, 58-56, 58-56, and 59-55.
In the opening bout of the Thompson Boxing Promotions card, heavyweight LaRon Mitchell stopped Chad Davis (5-13, 1 KO) in the fourth and final round. Mitchell (6-0, 6 KOs) dropped Davis in the third round, courtesy of a left to the body, followed by a left to the head. After barely making it out of the round, Davis was overwhelmed by Mitchell to begin the fourth round. Davis was hurt by a barrage of punches, prompting referee Raul Caiz, Jr. stopped the bout at 44 seconds.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Salazar also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, RingTV, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing