By Francisco Salazar
ONTARIO,Calif. - ONTARIO, Calif. - Heavyweight LaRon Mitchell got some rounds in on Friday night against Epifanio Mendoza. As in all his previous fights though, a familiar outcome transpired.
Mitchell dropped Mendoza with a left hand to the body, eventually getting the knockout win in the third round.
Mitchell improves to 13-0, 13 KOs, while Mendoza falls to 42-23-1, 36 KOs.
The 2012 U.S. Olympic Boxing Trials runner-up was getting a decent step up in opposition from Mendoza, who fought for a light heavyweight world title belt in 2007 against Chad Dawson.
The southpaw Mitchell, who had a strength and height advantage over Mendoza, was able to connect more throughout the fight. Mendoza was at his best on the inside, scoring to the body, but also not allowing Mitchell to get any extension on his punches.
Mitchell began to find his rhythm by stepping back and letting his hands go, landing repeatedly to the head of Mendoza.
Mitchell ended matters at 52 seconds of the third round when he dropped Mendoza with a left hand to the body. Mendoza was able to beat the count, but was in no condition to continue, prompting referee Raul Caiz, Sr. to stop the fight.
The 36-year-old Mitchell, who resides in San Francisco, teaches full-time at a junior high in the Oakland area.
Erick Ituarte (14-1-1, 2 KOs) survived two knockdowns to win a close eight round unanimous decision over Daniel Ramirez. Midway through the first round, Ramirez dropped Ituarte with a counter left hook to the head. Not to be outdone, Ituarte scored a knockdown of his own in round three, courtesy of an overhand right hand to the head. Ramirez dropped Ituarte again with another left hook to the head, this time in round five. Both had their moments over the last couple of rounds, but it was Ituarte who was busier while Ramirez looked to counter. All three judges scored the bout in favor of Ituarte, 75-74, 76-73, and 77-73. Boxingscene.com scored the bout 75-74 in favor of Ituarte.
The six round bout between junior welterweights Manuel Mendez and Ricardo Maldonado (6-5-1) abruptly ended in a technical draw in the second round. Mendez (10-1-2, 6 KOs) dropped Maldonado with a counter right cross to the chin midway through the first round. Both fighters had their moments in the second round until an accidental clash of heads opened a cut above Mendez's left eye. A ringside physician advised referee Raul Caiz, Sr. to stop the fight at 2:10. Because three rounds were not completed, under California Athletic Commission guidelines, the bout was declared a technical draw.
Welterweight Eridanni Leon stopped Rasheed Lawal in the fourth and final round. Leon (3-2, 1 KO) landed the more-telling blows throughout the fight, stunning Lawal early in round two. Lawal was able to rally later in the round, landing a series of left hands to the head of Leon. Lawal (1-4-1) was stunned midway through the third round by a right cross and was hurt again in round four from a barrage of punches from Leon. Referee Sharon Sands stepped in and stopped the bout at 1:31.
In the opening bout of the Thompson Boxing Promotions card, bantamweight Rudy Garcia (2-0) won a four round unanimous decision over Rafael Rivera (2-9). The shorter Rivera attempted to connect on the inside, willing to take a two or three punches to land one. As the bout progressed, Rivera slowed down considerably, allowing Garcia to rain down punches, especially effective lefts and rights to the body in the third round. All three judges scored the bout 40-36 in favor of Garcia.
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