SAN ANTONIO—Hector Tanajara Jr. was assigned his toughest test to date in his first hometown appearance as a pro.
He handled both scenarios with poise well beyond his 23 years of age.
The unbeaten lightweight prospect delivered a complete performance in outpointing former title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos over 10 rounds Saturday evening at The Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Scores were 99-91 and 97-93 twice in favor of Tanajara Jr.. who continues to seek bigger game—and hasn’t at all been shy about calling out such opposition.
His most recent performance certainly puts him at least one step closer to facing the likes of Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney and other fellow young lightweights on the rise. In getting there, Tanajara Jr. effectively picked apart an old and durable dog in Burgos, who has thrice challenged for major titles. The last of the three opportunities came against then-unbeaten 130-pound titlist Mikey Garcia, whose older brother and multi-time Trainer of the Year Robert Garcia serves as the lead cornerman for Tanajara Jr. and mapped out the perfect game plan for his young charge.
Burgos is past his best, but still durable enough to test the next wave of rising contenders. The bout was his first since a shutout loss to Devin Haney in September 2018, though has always been reliable for going rounds. It figured to be the case here, as Tanajara—for all of his skills—has never been blessed with punching power.
Still, the young prospect just needed to be sharp which was the case throughout the fight. Tanajara managed to land 44% of his power punches against a willing Burgos, who made Tanajara work every round but was never able to turn the tide.
The closest Tanajara came to running into trouble was in round seven, and only for an in-fight infraction when he was warned by referee Wilfredo Esperon for hitting on the break. Burgos wisely tied up on the inside, as Tanajara responded with a shoulder bump and long right hand which drew harsh words from the third man.
Tanajara continued with his attack, abiding by the rules and continuing to score with right hands. The jab was working as well, as Burgos saw his punch output decrease with each round and never coming close to landing the type of power shot that would turn the tide.
The scrappy veteran took chances in the 10th and final round, going for broke after falling well behind on the scorecards. An inside fight worked to Burgos’ advantage in the opening minute of the 10th and final round, working Tanajara’s body and then coming back upstairs. Tanajara took it all in stride, coming back with digging left hooks to the body and bullying Burgos to the ropes. The two-way exchange drew a rise out of the crowd, rabidly rallying behind its local favorite who came up aces in his first ever fight at home.
Burgos suffers his second straight defeat, falling to 33-4-2 (21KOs). All three of his previous defeats came in title fights or in the case of Haney, to a future titlist.
Tanajara can stand to use a bit more seasoning before entering that conversation, but for now lands in respectable company as he improves to 19-0 (5KOs).
The bout served in supporting capacity to the middleweight debut of former 154-pound titlist Jaime Munguia, a 24-year old Tijuana, Mexico native who faces Ireland’s Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox