By Ryan Burton @ ringside
Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas - Super featherweight Diego Magdaleno (19-0) crushed Gilberto Sanchez Leon (29-10) in three rounds in the main event of ESPN Friday Night Fights. Magdaleno only had 3 knockouts in his first 15 fights. Since then he has reeled off 4 consecutive knockouts.
The action started slowly as both fighters felt each other out in the opening round. Magdaleno started to put his punches together in the second round and dropped Sanchez Leon with a left hook. Leon staggered to his feet but was able to survive the round.
Magdaleno immediately pounced on his opponent in the third round dropping him with a right hand. Moments later Magdaleno unleashed a flurry of punches and dropped Leon a final time as referee Vic Draculich was stepping in to waive off the fight at the same time as Leon was falling to the canvas.
Featherweight Bernabe Concepcion (30-4) lost a split decision in a major upset to journeyman Juan Carlos Martinez (17-12) in his first fight since his 2nd round knockout loss to Juan Manuel Lopez this past July. The scores were 77-75 78-74 and 75-77.
Concepcion struggled the first couple of rounds as he tried to get into a groove. Martinez doesn't pack a powerful punch but landed often enough to disrupt the Filipino's timing. The third round was even worse for Concepcion as Martinez began to pick him apart with power shots. A visibly frustrated Concepcion began to drop his gloves as he began to motion Martinez over in an attempt to get the Mexican to brawl with him.
Concepcion landed a huge left hand to wobble Martinez in the 4th but Martinez continued to out work him.
The Mexican fighter was able to withstand Concepcion's surge in thge 5th round. sense of urgency in the fifth round. Freddie Roach must have lit a fire under his Filipino fighter as he finally used his stiff jab and began to follow it up with left and right hooks wobbling Martinez on a few occasions. Martinez landed a few counter shots of his own but this was clearly Concepcion's best round to this point in the fight.
Both fighters exchanged power shots in the 6th round. While Concepcion has significantly more power, Martinez had the more accurate punches in a close round. The seventh round was similar to the 7th except that Concepcion's shots more frequently and was able to control the pace for the first time in the fight.
The fight ended with another action packed round in the eight and final round as both fighters all but abandoned their jabs, choosing to throw power shots almost exclusively.
With this loss Concepcion's career may be over.
Notre Dame alum Mike Lee opened up the televised portion of the ESPN Friday Night Fights card by winning a majority decision versus Gilbert Gastelum in a light heavyweight contest. The scores were 38-38 39-37 and 40-36. Lee appeared to win at least 3 of the 4 rounds.
Lee concentrated early on working the body and was very willing to let his hands go. He landed a perfectly timed right uppercut towards the end of the third round to the delight of the large contingent of fans wearing "Team Lee" shirts. The blow wobbled Gastelum but he was able to finish the roumd. Gastelum, while a limited fighter, was a live opponent who made the relatively inexperienced Lee work hard for the victory. This fight should pay dividends for Lee down the road.
Blue chip prospect Jessie Magdaleno (4-0) won a tough unanimous decision versus Jonathan Alcantara (4-4-2) in their super bantamweight bout. The scores were 60-54 three times but Magdaleno was in a tougher fight than the scores indicated.
Magdaleno, sporting a bleached blonde mohawk, showed great hand speed throughout the fight. Alcantara made adjustments after the first round and began to counter Magdaleno effectively.
Both fighters came out guns a blazing in the fourth round. The action began to slow as both fighters were a bit gassed after the furious exchange. Another furious exchange occurred as the hometown fans began to chant "Jessie! Jessie!"
The give and take action continued through the final 2 rounds of the 6 round bout. . The fight ended with both fighters engaging in one final furious exchange as Magdaleno landed one final shot after the bell rang.
Junior middleweight prospect Abie Han improved to 13-0 when he pitched a shutout over Taronze Washington (14-15). The scores were 60-54 on all 3 cards. Han displayed great hand speed and foot speed as he frequently switched between orthodox and southpaw stances. Han's early body work paid dividends as Washington began to lower his hands and the Korean American fighter began to find openings up stairs.
In the evenings open fight, Filipino Marlon Tapales (17-1) won a spirited battle over Alejandro Solorio (4-5-3) of California. The scores were 57-57 59-55 and 60-54 in a fight that appeared to be closer than two of the scorecards indicated. The super flyweights engaged in an exciting six round battle in which both men tasted the canvas in the fifth round. Tapales also was knocked down in the third but it was ruled a slip.