GLENDALE, Arizona – Luis ‘The Twist’ Nunez backed up his promise to disprove Jonathan Fierro’s claim that the Dominican Republic is only known for churning out top baseball talent.
The 22-year old Nunez outboxed and outslugged Fierro en route to a ten-round, unanimous decision victory. Judges Chris Flores (96-94), Dennis O’Connell (96-94) and Gonzalo Valenzuela (96-94) all scored in favor of Nunez in an entertaining featherweight battle to open a Showtime tripleheader Saturday evening at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
The battle of young, unbeaten featherweight prospects didn’t require any warmup session, with both fighters bringing the pain from the opening bell. Nunez drove Fierro to the ropes with a left hook upstairs. Fierro regained his balance and took the lead during the majority of the exchanges. The 18-year-old Guadalajara native was on the mark with his straight left hand and his right hook, briefly rocking Dominican Republic’s Nunez near the end of the round.
Fierro was dealt his first taste of adversity early in round two. An accidental clash of heads left him with a cut along the left side of his head, with Nunez escaping without a scratch despite getting clipped above his left eye. Nunez landed a right hand that caught the attention of Fierro, who shook off the blow but was unable to immediately return fire.
Chants of ‘Mexico’ filled the venue in round three, but it was Nunez who began to take control of the fight. Fierro managed to shake off a right uppercut to the body along with two more upstairs. Another right hand to the body forced the unbeaten Mexican to back off for the first time in the fight.
Nunez continued to target the body in round four, reaching for Fierro’s midsection with lead rights. Fierro looked to work his jab, setting up a straight left hand that found its target. Momentum remained with Nunez in round four, taking the lead and beating Fierro to the punch during most exchanges.
Fierro looked to turn the tide in round five. Nunez briefly cornered the teenager before action made its way to the center of the ring, where Fierro connected with a straight left hand, Nunez returned fire before getting clipped with a left hand and right hook. The crowd rose to its feet as action heated up, only for time to be called as Nunez was warned for rabbit punching. Fierro had the final say, landing a right hook at the bell after slipping an overhand right.
Nunez stopped Fierro in his tracks with a clean right hand midway through round six. Fierro showed a world class chin in absorbing the shot and remaining upright, but it momentarily brought his offense to a halt after enjoying success with his jab and straight left earlier in the frame.
Fierro launched a left hand that landed flush on the chin of Nunez, who barely blinked as he immediately responded with a right hand and left hook upstairs. Nunez made Fierro pay for leaving his chin in the air following a wide left, connecting with an uppercut inside the final minute mark of the round. Fierro was stunned by a left hook right at the ten-second marker, taking the shot well but clearly affected by the Dominican’s power surge.
Nunez twice complained of Fierro leading with his head, coming at the start of the round eight and in the final 40 seconds. Fierro was warned for the infractions though avoiding a point deduction as both matters appeared to be incidental contact.
Fierro used lateral movement to slow down the attack of Nunez in round nine. The tactic slowed down the action though with Nunez still dictating the pace as he was able to cut off the ring in the final minute. Both fighters were warned for continuing to exchange after the bell.
The tenth and final round saw Nunez pump his jab and then target Fierro’s midsection. Fierro moved to his left but ran out of real estate as Nunez snapped back his head with a right uppercut. Fierro briefly turned the tide with a right hook that forced Nunez to hold. Fierro let his hands go in the final minute of the fight, only for his momentum to be stalled by referee Tony Zaino stopping action to warn both fighters for hitting behind the head.
Nunez advances to 17-0 (12KOs) with the win. He has now defeated his third straight unbeaten opponent. Fierro suffers his first defeat, falling to 13-1 (12KOs).
Headlining the televised tripleheader, two-time WBC super middleweight titlist David Benavidez (25-0, 22KOs) from nearby Phoenix faces former IBF middleweight titlist David Lemieux (43-4, 36KOs) for the interim WBC super middleweight title.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox