By Cliff Rold
Auditorio Municipal Fausto Gutiérrez Moreno, Tijuana - A vacant title was filled in the televised opener.
Fighting for the first time since June 2013, 23-year old Javier Mendoza (22-2-1, 18 KO), 108, of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, scored two knockdowns with body shots en route to a unanimous decision win for the vacant IBF Light Flyweight belt over twelve rounds against 32-year old former WBO Jr. Flyweight titlist Ramon Garcia (20-5-1, 12 KO), 108, of La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. It was the first time Mendoza had been farther than round seven and he made it count.
The referee was Roberto Ramirez Jr.
The clash of southpaws got under way with Mendoza playing the aggressor, Garcia looking for counter shots off the back foot. After a testy feeling out first round, a light tap to the face from Garcia after the bell nearly started an incident but the referee quickly scuttled Mendoza to the corner.
Making Mendoza miss more in the second, Garcia boxed well and punched in effective combination. It was more of the same in round three, Garcia wobbling Mendoza with a flush overhand left just before the bell.
A low blow from Mendoza, who had been flirting with the belt line from early on, brought a break to the action and a warning from the referee in round four. A clash of heads drew blood on the forehead of Mendoza but it didn’t appear to affect his vision.
The low blows continued in the fifth, but this time it was Garcia striking. Moments after being hurt by a clean left to the body, a low blow had Mendoza wincing. He bit down and kept firing. In a sustained action round, Mendoza kept going to the body and it paid off. A massive left downstairs dropped Garcia late in the round, changing the momentum of the contest. Garcia beat the count and made the bell.
Both fighters were warned at the start of the sixth about keeping their blows above the belt. When action resumed, Mendoza landed a good shot near the ropes to keep Garcia wary. A left to the body had Garcia clinching. Battling at close quarters, both men landed hard leather upstairs. Garcia closed the round stronger with a series of flush blows to the head.
A blow to the hip and side of the butt cost Garcia a point in the eighth. Before the round was out, Garcia would be hurt again to the body but managed to keep his feet. With the knockdown earlier in the night, Garcia was getting into a place where he might need a knockout to win.
Moving his hands and feet, Garcia had a sort of rally round in the ninth but was rocked again late. He punched his way through and may have won the round but the Mendoza body assault dropped Garcia again late in the tenth. Again, he beat the count and came up swinging but it looked dire with two rounds to go.
Garcia almost found a miracle late in the eleventh, hurting Mendoza to the body and forcing him to hold. Both men exhausted, they came out firing to start the final round. For three minutes, they swung hard shots, fair and foul, with some clinches to along the way for sheer lack of breath. Mendoza almost dropped Garcia one last time to the body and, as the bell rang, looked like the winner.
The official scores confirmed the obvious at 116-109 and 115-110 twice, Mendoza winning his first major title. The win was Mendoza’s ninth in a row, the first in the string to go the distance. Garcia suffers his first defeat in five fights dating to a knockout loss to current Flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez in April 2012.
Garcia is the brother of former 105 lb. titlist Raul Garcia.
The card was broadcast in the US on BeIn Sports Espanol, promoted by Zanfer.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]