By Francisco Salazar
(CORONA, California) - Petr Petrov had not fought in almost a year and some wondered whether he would show some ring rust tonight against an experienced foe.
After 10 rounds, Petrov proved those people wrong. Now he awaits an opportunity to fight for a world title.
Petrov survived a first round knockdown to win a 10 round unanimous decision over Gamaliel Diaz at the Omega Products International in this suburb of Los Angeles.
Petrov had not fought since May 23, when he stopped Fernando Carcamo to win the 2014 Boxcino Lightweight Tournament. He was scheduled to fight Hank Lundy on Jan. 16, but the fight fell through when Lundy weighed four pounds over the lightweight limit.
About midway through the first round, a left hook by Diaz to the head of Petrov dropped him to the canvas. Petrov was not hurt and was able to fight on.
The knockdown might have awoken Petrov, as he was more on the offensive from the second round on. He pressed the action, walking Diaz down and landing overhand right hands or counter left hooks. A left hook in the third round seemed to stun Diaz, but Petrov was unable to follow up.
Diaz tried attacking Petrov's body in the fourth round, but that allowed the Russian-born fighter to effective counter to the head with more counter left hooks or right hands to the head.
Petrov dropped Diaz with a left hook-right hand to the head in the seventh round. As if things did not get worse for Diaz, he was deducted a point from referee Jack Reiss for landing a punch below Petrov's belt line.
The bout took a bizarre turn in the eighth round when Reiss gave repeated warnings for Diaz to stop complaining. It got to the point by the ninth round when Reiss brought up Diaz's trainer to translate to Diaz to stop talking and fight. Petrov was content to box the rest of the way until the final bell.
All three judges scored the bout in favor of Petrov, 97-90, 97-90, and 98-89.
"He was a good opponent with experience and he knew how to get of danger," said Petrov after the fight. "After a 10 month layoff, we're back. I'm ready for a title shot. That's my goal."
Petrov, who successfully defended his NABA and NABO lightweight titles, improves to 36-4-2, 16 KOs. Diaz falls to 39-12-3, 18 KOs.
In a bout featuring southpaw welterweights, Taras Shelestyuk won an eight round unanimous decision over Juan Rodriguez.
The taller Shelestyuk, who won a Bronze Medal for Ukraine in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, had his way early on with Rodriguez. Both threw combinations, but it was Shelestyuk who landed the more effective punches.
Shelestyuk had to deal with a bit of adversity midway through the fight. With less than a minute left in the fourth round, an accidental head-butt opened a cut over his right eye. The ringside physician examined the cut after the fourth round and allowed the bout to continue.
Rodriguez had some success in the fifth and sixth rounds, but a left hand to the body by Shelestyuk in the seventh round halted any momentum he had gained in the previous round. Shelestyuk finished strong in the final round, landing the more telling blows.
All three judges scored the bout in favor of Shelestyuk, 79-73, 79-73, and 78-74.
Shelestyuk improves to 12-0, 8 KOs, while Rodriguez drops to 12-2, 5 KOs.
Junior welterweight Emmanuel Robles won a six round unanimous decision over Wilberth Lopez.
It was a tactical, but rough at times battle between southpaw fighters. Robles was able to land consistently with overhand left crosses to Lopez's head during the first half of the fight. Robles was also effective attacking the Lopez's body as well.
Lopez began to turn the tide in his favor in the fourth round, landing counter left hands to Robles' head. Robles had to deal with a cut over his left eye in the fifth round, likely from a punch or an accidental headbutt. In the final round, Robles was the more effective fighter, landing the more telling blows.
All three judges scored the bout in favor of Robles, 59-55, 59-55, and 58-56.
Robles improves to 13-0-1, 3 KOs, while Lopez drops to 5-5, 1 KO.
In other bouts:
- Darius Ervin won a four round majority decision over Isaac Freeman (1-1, 1 KO). One judge scored the bout 38-38, while the other two judges scored the bout 39-37 and 40-36 for Ervin, who was making his professional debut.
- Michael Norato, who was making his professional debut, stopped Sopuan Rin in the second round of a four round junior lightweight bout. Norato dropped Rin (1-2-1) once in the first round, courtesy of a left hand. He dropped Rin twice more in the second, the second one by another left hand to the head, prompting referee Ray Corona to wave the fight over at 2:14.
- In the walkout bout of the evening, bantamweight Humberto Rubalcava stopped Christian Lorenzo (2-3, 1 KO) in the second round. A right hand dropped Lorenzo, prompting referee Jack Reiss to stop the bout at 12 seconds.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Salazar also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, RingTV, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing