Otha Jones III was tested Friday night against a determined, rugged opponent he only learned he’d fight Thursday at their weigh-in in Mexico City.
The 20-year-old junior lightweight prospect was pushed more than in any of his first five professional fights and settled for a six-round split draw with Kevin Montiel Mendoza on the Juan Francisco Estrada-Carlos Cuadras undercard at TV Azteca Studios. Jones fought off his back foot almost exclusively and mostly defended himself well, but only one judge scored the fight for the highly touted Toledo, Ohio, native.
One judge scored Jones a 58-56 winner and another judge scored the action 58-56 for Mexico’s Montiel Mendoza. The third judge scored it even, 57-57.
Jones left the ring with the lone blemish on his professional record (5-0-1, 2 KOs). The 21-year-old Montiel Mendoza’s record stands at 6-0-1 (3 KOs).
Jones fought out of a southpaw stance for much of the sixth round. Montiel Mendoza landed a left and then a right just before the midway mark of the sixth round, though neither of those shots appeared to affect Jones.
A straight right by Montiel Mendoza moved Jones backward with just under 30 seconds left in the final round.
Montiel Mendoza pressured Jones throughout the fifth round. Jones appeared to tire during that round and didn’t have much on his punches in those three minutes.
Montiel Mendoza landed a straight right hand with just under a remaining in the fourth round. Another overhand right by Montiel Mendoza connected with just under 10 seconds to go in the fourth.
A stiff jab by Jones backed up Montiel Mendoza 48 seconds into the third round. Jones landed a right uppercut about 1:10 into the third round and moved out of Montiel Mendoza’s punching range.
Jones was more effective offensively during the third round than in the first two rounds. He also defended himself well again in that three-minute period.
Montiel Mendoza remained the aggressor for much of the second round, when he landed a left hook that knocked Jones off balance with about 30 seconds to go in it. Jones flung Montiel Mendoza to the canvas near the end of the second round.
Montiel Mendoza was aggressive in the first round and threw various hard punches, most of which Jones avoided. Toward the end of the opening round, Jones connected with an overhand right and a several seconds later with a left hook.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.