Six months after enjoying an early night at the office, Robin Zamora was able to showcase his entire skillset.
The first piece of live televised boxing in six weeks saw Zamora and Ramiro Blanco deliver a fun main event far more entertaining than their previous encounter last October. The junior lightweight heat ended with Zamora claiming an eight-round decision Saturday evening live on ESPN Deportes from Polideportivo Alexis Arguello in Managua, Nicaragua.
Scores were 77-75, 77-75 and 78-74 in favor of Zamora, who scored a 2nd round stoppage in their first fight.
Not only was the rematch a different look, so too was its surrounding elements. With mass gatherings shut down worldwide in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Saturday’s show—presented by Bufalo Boxing Promotions, headed by former two-division champ Rosendo 'Bufalo' Alvarez—saw boxing put its best foot forward in practicing proper hygiene and social distancing. Fans were separated by one empty seat, spread out in every row throughout the venue. Participants wore masks up until they entered the ring, while the referee and all event personnel—including the ring announcer—remained masked throughout the evening.
As for the stuff between the ropes, the pair of familiar foes came out swinging in the opening bell. Blanco fought like a man full intent on revenge, never allowing Zamora a moment to catch his breath as he swung for the fences. Zamora adapted, rocking Blanco with a left hook amidst a furiously paced three minutes.
As the action slowed just a touch in round two, Zamora seized the opportunity to turn the fight into a boxing match. The 22-year old southpaw worked Blanco’s body while offering in and out movement. His combination punching became a problem for Blanco, who was all will but unable to match his opponent’s skill level.
To combat that deficiency, Blanco found a way to return the main event to a firefight in round three. Relentless pressure forced Zamora to bite down and trade, particularly since he quickly ran out of ring space with which to work.
It was perhaps Blanco’s last glorious moment in the sun. Zamora rediscovered his groove in round four and never really looked back. The southpaw repeatedly caught Blanco coming in, continuing to work the body while enjoying success with left hand shots.
In and out movement from Zamora frustrated Blanco throughout round five, though perhaps not as much as his opponent’s frequent clinching in a rare frame devoid of action. More boxing and less grappling came in round six, with Zamora flicking his jab and touching up Blanco with left hands, though never to the point of recreating the magic that came from their first fight.
Round seven saw the type of two-way action that better suited Blanco, even if it wasn’t winning him rounds. Both boxers traded for much of the frame—and even a little bit beyond, as parting shots were thrown just after the bell before the referee was able to restore order. Zamora was able to get the better of most of the exchanges, as there were points where he couldn’t miss with left uppercuts while on the inside.
Blanco once again sought to press in the eighth and final round, but just couldn’t offset Zamora’s deep arsenal of tricks. Zamora’s hit-and-hold approach slowed the action to a crawl, though working to his advantage as he used the lulls to catch Blanco off guard with left uppercuts. Blanco went for broke in the final 30 seconds but mostly chucked up air balls as he was picked apart with head shots.
The two embraced by fight’s end, the eight rounds of action more than enough to forgive the absence of social distancing between the two combatants.
Zamora advances to 16-7 (8KOs) with the win, his second straight after having dropped three of his prior four starts. Blanco falls to 18-8-3 (10KOs), having now lost five in a row.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox