Joseph Fernandez demonstrated remarkable resilience and recorded a career-changing win Friday night.
Three months after suffering a first-round, technical-knockout defeat, Fernandez withstood a slow start against Zhiming Wang and won an eight-round unanimous decision in ProBox TV’s “Last Chance Tournament” in the 140-pound division. Fernandez took a lot of power punches in the first two rounds, but he got into a rhythm and defeated China’s Wang on the scorecards of judges Joanne Richard (78-74), Michael Ross (77-75) and Tito Wilgo (78-74) at ProBox Events Center in Plant City, Florida.
Fernandez (15-4-3, 5 KOs), of St. Petersburg, Florida, will face San Antonio’s Kendo Castaneda in the semifinals of ProBox’s tournament. Castaneda (18-5, 9 KOs) knocked out Sonny Fredrickson (21-6, 14 KOs) in the first round earlier Friday night.
Wang (11-4, 3 KOs) fought for the first time as a professional in nearly four years. He went back to amateur competition after he beat Hero Tito by unanimous decision in a 10-rounder in September 2018.
Fernandez (14-5-3, 5 KOs), of St. Petersburg, Florida, lost by first-round knockout in his previous fight, yet performed well on short notice against Wang. Underdog Gonzalo Dallera (10-16, 8 KOs) stopped Fernandez 2:22 into their eight-rounder February 19 in Melrose, Florida.
Fernandez’s left hand made Wang move away from him 40 seconds into the eighth and final round. Wang blasted Fernandez 1:10 into the eighth round, but Fernandez kept coming forward.
Wang rocked Fernandez with a right hand with just over 1:20 to go in their fight. Another right hand by Wang connected with just under a minute remaining in the eighth round.
Fernandez and Wang then traded hard head shots right up until the final bell sounded.
Wang and Fernandez landed hard punches to the head during an entertaining exchange that closed the seventh round. Earlier in that round, Fernandez was the busier boxer and landed several left hooks to Wang’s head.
A right hand by Wang knocked Fernandez backward 10 seconds into the sixth round. After taking two left hooks from Fernandez, Wang landed a right hand that made Fernandez reset his feet with just under 50 seconds on the clock in the sixth round.
Wang clipped Fernandez with a left hook 15 seconds into the fifth round. Fernandez nailed Wang with a straight left that backed him with just over two minutes to go in the fifth round.
They exchanged hard punches in the second half of the fifth round.
Fernandez took Wang’s punches well during the fourth round, which amounted to another competitive three minutes.
Fernandez threw more punches during the third round and made it more competitive than either of the first two rounds. Wang still landed the harder punches in those three minutes.
Wang slipped most of Fernandez’s punches in the second round. He landed several flush punches in that round, mostly left hooks as he moved forward.
Wang blasted Fernandez with a left hook to the head barely 1:10 into the first round. Wang also nailed Fernandez with a right hand just before the first round ended.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.