By Francisco Salazar
(LOS ANGELES, Calif.) - In his last bout on November 29, Jayson Velez fought to a 12 round split decision draw against Evgeny Gradovich.
No way Daniel Ramirez, his opponent on Thursday night, would get the better of Velez, considering the fighter from Puerto Rico was ranked in the top 10 in all four major sanctioning bodies.
But Ramirez came to fight, and fight he did. He came to win, giving Velez some problems early on during their 10 round bout before Velez weathered the storm, eventually pulling away and getting the nod on the judges' scorecards.
Velez walked away with a 10 round unanimous decision win over Ramirez before a sold-out crowd at the Belasco Theatre.
Velez challenged Gradovich for the IBF featherweight title on November 29. While Gradovich kept the title with the draw, some were impressed with the boxing skills of Velez. He figured to dominate Ramirez, who had only 13 pro fights entering the fight on Thursday and had lost two of three.
It was Ramirez who took the fight to Velez from the opening bell, putting him on the defensive and on his back heel. Velez swung momentum his way in the second round, dropping Ramirez with a left hook to the head about a minute into the round. To his credit, Ramirez fought on.
Ramirez bounced back in the third round, landing with rights and lefts to the head of Velez. He was able to sneak a counter left or right cross to the head and body as well.
Velez began to landed the more telling blows during the middle rounds. He momentarily stunned Ramirez in the fifth round, but was unable to follow up.
While it looked as though Velez was getting the better of the exchanges in the later rounds, Ramirez would launch a rally every so often that would keep Velez at bay. Those became fewer and far between as Ramirez slowed down considerably in the final rounds. Velez was content to box from the outside, keeping his distance from Ramirez and scoring from the outside.
All three judges scored the bout in favor of Velez, 98-91, 98-91, and 99-90.
"Velez has some pretty good power, but I thought I landed some good shots at him," said Ramirez after the fight. "I definitely thought the rounds were closer."
Velez goes to 23-0-1, 16 KOs, while Ramirez drops to 11-3, 5 KOs.
"I thought Daniel was a good fighter and he came prepared tonight," said Velez after the fight. "He gave fans a war. After the first knockdown, I thought I had him. I definitely thought I hurt him during the fight. I am ready for my next fight and I will fight anyone out there."
In the walkout bout of the evening, junior featherweight Rafael Gramajo (4-1-1, 2 KOs) won a four round decision over Pablo Cupul (4-17, 3 KOs). All three judges scored the bout 40-36 in favor of Gramajo.
Junior lightweight Carlos Morales won an eight round unanimous decision over Emmanuel Gonzalez.
Morales (9-1-3, 3 KOs) entered the bout against Gonzalez having won eight in a row after beginning his pro career winless in his first four bouts. Gonzalez (14-2, 7 KOs) had not fought in about a year, when he suffered his first pro loss of his pro career to Tevin Farmer.
Morales dictated the pace from the opening bell, continually landing lead or counter right hands to the Gonzalez's head. Gonzalez had a better third round, but was hurt towards the end of the round from a right hand to the head from Morales.
Both fighters had their moments during the middle rounds, with Gonzalez attempting to walk Morales down, while Morales tried to land rights to the head and lefts to Gonzalez's body. Morales looked as though he had more left in the tank in the final two rounds, beating Gonzalez to the punch and landing the more effective combinations.
All three judges scored the bout in favor of Morales, 80-72, 78-74, and 77-75.
Popular Southern California junior lightweight Christian Gonzalez won a one-sided and foul-filled six round decision over Darryl Hayes.
From the opening round, Gonzalez was always on the attack, throwing an abundant array of left hooks and right crosses. The amount of hard shots from Gonzalez quickly put Hayes on the defensive, prompting him to grab on to Gonzalez. The constant holding brought referee Sharon Sands to deduct a point from Hayes in the second round.
Hayes did better in the third round. He countered with left hooks or right uppercuts to the head on an advancing Gonzalez. Hayes' punch output dropped in the following round though, as Gonzalez mixed in an attack of uppercuts to the head along with shots to Gonzalez's body.
Referee Sharon Sands had her hands full again in round six, this time deducting a point from Hayes for pushing down on the back of Gonzalez's head.
All three judges scored the bout in favor of Gonzalez, 60-52, 60-52, and 59-53.
In the opening bout of the Golden Boy Promotions card, junior featherweight Pablo Rubio dropped Julio Iwami Rodriguez twice in the first round before referee Sharon Sands stopped the bout at 2:16. Both fighters were making their professional debuts.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco 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