Nestor Bravo survived his stiffest test to date to remain unbeaten, though failing to improve his fighting stock in the process.
A pair of point deductions for excessive holding provided anxious moments for the Puerto Rican lightweight, who managed to outpoint Jose Luis Gallegos over 10 rounds Wednesday evening at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California.
Judges Alejandro Rochin and Marcos Rosales scored the contest 96-92, while Fernando Villarreal had it 97-91, all for Bravo who wins in his West Coast debut.
After a moderately paced opening round, Bravo—who hails from Arecibo, Puerto Rico—began to pull away in round two. A steady jab from the unbeaten Boricua helped establish frequent openings for his chopping right hand. Gallegos continued to come forward but was unable to respond with anything that caused his foe to slow down.
Gallegos attempted a more aggressive approach in round three, winging left hooks in hopes of turning the tide. Bravo remained calm under fire and in the pocket, working his left hook downstairs and then coming back up top with right hands.
Action slowed in round four, as Bravo fought primarily behind the jab. Gallegos dared his younger foe to stand and trade, although Bravo preferred to stick and move as he remained in control.
Bravo continued to outwork his veteran opponent, but slowing down the pace enough as to not have to work every second of every round. The heavy-handed lightweight concentrated more on quality, landing hard right hands and quick jabs before moving back just enough to remain out of Gallegos’ punching range.
Gallegos grew increasingly frustrated in the second half of the fight, seeking to exchange on the inside only to have to settle for Bravo’s constant movement. Bravo was warned for two separate infractions in round seven, lectured for a low blow midway through the frame and then the boxer and his corner informed by referee Jack Reiss that continued holding on the inside would result in a point deduction.
Meanwhile, Gallegos continued to work hard to create openings. The Chicago-bred, Bakersfield-based lightweight scored with raking right hands to the body over the course of the night, along with a solid right hand early in round eight. Bravo took the shots well, though resorted to lateral movement and frequent clinching whenever Gallegos sought to uncork his offense.
True to his word, Reiss ordered a point deduction from Bravo in round nine for “all the extracurricular activity.” It was an unorthodox ruling, although Bravo was warned several times for an assortment of fouls prior to getting gigged for pushing down behind Gallegos’ head.
Another point deduction came in round ten, along with the threat of disqualification.
Bravo was rocked earlier in the round, getting caught with a right hand on the chin and then another on the base of his skull. Time was called, at which point Bravo complained of the foul only to catch an earful from the third man for holding behind Gallegos’ head and spinning into the punch. Moments later, Bravo suffered a second point deduction on the night, once again for holding and with Reiss admonishing the Puerto Rican for “ruining a good fight.”
That description leaves a lot to be desired, but Bravo put in enough work early in the bout to preserve his unbeaten record. The win advances his mark to 19-0 (13KOs), coming through efficiency as he landed more punches (168 to 137) and at a higher connect percentage (35% to 24%).
Gallegos falls to 19-9 (14KOs), snapping a three-fight win streak. The loss is his first since a 5th round stoppage at the hands of more promising lightweight Michel Rivera on these very airwaves last September.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox