By Keith Idec
Wale Omotoso overcame some troublesome moments in his debut at 154 pounds to defeat Freddy Hernandez on Friday night.
The Nigerian-born Omotoso (27-3, 21 KOs), of Oxnard, California, weathered Hernandez’s strong start, hurt Hernandez in the eighth round and won a 10-round unanimous decision in a fight FS1 aired from Pioneer Event Center in Lancaster, California. All three judges – Rudy Barragan (100-90), Fernando Villareal (97-93) and Zachary Young (96-94) scored the competitive contest for the former welterweight contender
The 32-year-old Omotoso ended a 17-month layoff by beating Hernandez (34-9, 22 KOs, 1 NC).
Mexico’s Hernandez, 38, also halted a lengthy layoff. Before Friday night, he hadn’t boxed since he defeated Alfredo Angulo by unanimous decision in a 10-rounder in August 2016.
Omotoso is now 4-3 in his past seven appearances, including a split-decision defeat to Jamal James in his last fight and a unanimous-decision defeat to Jessie Vargas. James and Vargas are scheduled to fight later Friday night as part of the FS1 broadcast.
After an eighth round in which he hurt Hernandez badly, Omotoso continued to press the action throughout the ninth round. An accidental clash of heads late in the ninth caused a cut over Hernandez’s left eye.
Omotoso’s overhand right moved Hernandez toward the ropes about a minute into the eighth round. Omotoso hurt Hernandez with a left hook, followed by a straight right hand, with 48 seconds remaining in the eighth.
Hernandez stumbled back, into the ropes, but he withstood the trouble and didn’t go down. Hernandez seemed to think the fight was over after the eighth round, but referee Jack Reiss reminded him that it was a 10-rounder.
Omotoso came out aggressive to start the sixth round, after Hernandez had some success in the fifth. Hernandez hit Omotoso later in the sixth with a hard, straight right hand, but Omotoso took it well.
Hernandez backed up Omotoso with a left hook to the head, followed by a left hook to the body, when there were approximately 50 seconds to go in the fifth round.
Omotoso knocked Hernandez off balance by landing a counter left hook with about 1:20 to go in the fourth round. Hernandez’s left hook late in fourth was his most effective punch of those three minutes.
Omotoso picked up the pace after hitting Hernandez with a left-right combination halfway through the third round. Hernandez got Omotoso’s attention a few moments later by drilling him with a left hook.
Hernandez connected with three flush left hooks following the midway mark of the second round, one of which knocked out Omotoso’s mouthpiece. Hernandez also hit Omotoso with a straight right hand late in the second round.
Omotoso seemed to buzz Hernandez with a straight right hand just before the one-minute mark of the first round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.