By Francisco Salazar
The highly-anticipated bout between Jesus Soto-Karass and Yoshihiro Kamegai mostly lived up to expectations on Friday night.
The back-and-forth slugfest between the two welterweights produced a split decision draw over 10 rounds before a sell-out crowd at the Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles, Calif.
Soto-Karass, who is now winless in his last three fights, goes to 28-10-4, 18 KOs. Kamegai goes to 26-3-2, 23 KOs.
Soto-Karass came into the fight having not fought in almost two years, losing a decision to Devon Alexander. Kamegai has been more active, knocking out Nelson Gulpe in the third round on October 3.
After a slow start in the opening round, both fighters began letting their hands go, producing solid exchanges and a consistent ebb and flow early on in the fight.
Kamegai was at his best when he fought from a distance, connecting with right hands to the head. Soto-Karass threw and landed more punches while both fighters were in the pocket.
The action slowed during the middle rounds as Kamegai looked to work behind a jab. His punch output dropped, while Soto-Karass continued to press the action and throw combinations.
Kamegai seemed to catch a second wind midway through the eighth round. Both stood in the pocket, producing solid exchanges during the final two rounds. Both expended a considerable amount of energy, landing flush to the head as the final bell sounded.
One judge scored the bout 97-93 for Kamegai, another judge scored the bout 96-94 for Soto-Karass, while the third judge produced a 95-95 scorecard.
According to stats accumulated at ringside, Soto-Karass threw 1132 punches, connecting on 352 of them. Kamegai landed 321 of 754 punches.
"I'm a Mexican warrior and he (Kamegai) is a Japanese warrior," Soto-Karass said after the fight. "We put on a good fight tonight."
Fight fans immediately took to social media after the fight to wonder when a possible rematch between Soto-Karass and Kamegai could take place. If there is a rematch, look for it to take place in the fall.
ON THE UNDERCARD
Light heavyweight Vyachslav Shabranskyy remained unbeaten with a technical knockout win after the third round over gatekeeper Derrick Findley.
Shabranskyy (16-0, 13 KOs) had a significant height and reach advantage over Findley, who was unsuccessful in getting on the inside of Shabranskyy's reach. Shabranskyy picked apart Findley repeatedly, putting him on the defensive.
Towards the end of the third round, Shabranskyy dropped Findley (23-19-1, 15 KOs) to one knee with a barrage of punches. Findley remained on his still before the fourth round began.
In the opening round of the 'Boxeo Estelar' broadcast, former amateur standout and lightweight Genaro Gamez was successful in his pro debut, knocking out Archie Weah in the opening round. Gamez showed poise, decent ring generalship and power in breaking Weak (1-5) down. A barrage of punches dropped Weah down in a corner and was counted out at 2:24 by referee Wayne Hedgpeth.
In another pro debut on the card, super welterweight Niko Valdes demolished Roberto Ramirez (0-3) in one round. The fight was waved off after Ramirez hit the deck for a second time.
Welterweight prospect Jonathan Navarro (5-0, 4KOs) got a second round stoppage over Tavorus Teague (3-11-2). Navarro scored a knockdown in the second with a hard bodyshot, and then rocked Teague badly at the end of the same round. The fight was waved off before the start of the third.
Super featherweight/lightweight prospect Jousce Gonzalez made his pro debut with a first round destruction of Jose Noe Perez (0-4). He dropped Perez three times in the first round before the fight was waved off very quickly.
Jousce is the younger brother of Golden Boy Promotions boxer Joet Gonzalez, who is managed by Frank Espinoza.