By Keith Idec
When the final bell rang at the end of their action-packed fight Friday night, Jesse Hernandez raised his arms in the air and an exhausted Ernesto Garza III walked slowly back to his corner.
A few minutes later, referee Gary Rosato raised Hernandez’s arm after he was announced as the winner of their a highly competitive, super bantamweight bout in Verona, New York. Hernandez won a split decision because two judges – Don Ackerman (95-94) and Wynn Kintz (97-93) – scored the 10-round fight for him.
The third judge, Tom Schreck, had Garza ahead when it was over (95-93). The fight was the second of three televised by Showtime as part of a “ShoBox: The New Generation” telecast from Turning Stone Resort Casino.
The 27-year-old Hernandez, of Fort Worth, Texas, improved to 11-1. The 29-year-old Garza, of Saginaw, Michigan, fell to 9-3.
Garza and Hernandez took turns landing clean punches from close distances throughout the eighth, ninth and 10 rounds, though neither fighter could hurt the other.
Rosato gave Garza time to put his mouthpiece back in with 1:06 to go in the seventh round, but he warned Garza that if it fell out a third time he would deduct a point. Hernandez buzzed Garza toward the end of the seventh round with an array of head and body shots, but Garza fired back with hard shots of his own to keep Hernandez honest.
Hernandez and Garza connected with power shots during an exciting exchange that started with about 30 seconds remaining in the sixth round. Garza and Hernandez each landed power punches during a highly competitive fifth round.
Early in the fourth round, Hernandez hit Garza with a left hand that knocked him off balance. Hernandez landed a left hand below Garza’s belt that caused a brief break in the action with less than 20 seconds remaining in the fourth round.
After getting knocked down during the second round, Hernandez had a strong third round. He landed several shots to Garza’s chin that prevented Garza from coming forward.
Hernandez switched to a southpaw stance to start the second round. Some swelling began to develop around Hernandez’s right eye later in the second round.
Hernandez continued to fight from a close distance in the second round, which favored the shorter Garza, who continued to connect with his left hand. Garza landed a straight left that knocked down Hernandez with six seconds to go in the second.
Hernandez got to his feet quickly following that flash knockdown and the round ended.
Garza succeeded in the first round when he came forward and connected with his overhand left.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.