By Francisco Salazar
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - After countless rounds of sparring over the years, Ronny Rios knew Efrain Esquivias was a slow starter.
Which is why he went on the attack from the opening bell of their 10 round bout Friday night. The strategy paid off for Rios as he was able to get the knockout win.
Rios stopped Esquivias in the second round before a sold-out crowd at the Belasco Theatre.
With the win, Rios improves to 26-1, 11 KOs, while Esquivias dropped to 17-5-1, 10 KOs.
It was a battle between Southern California featherweights whom where very familiar with one another since their days in the amateur ranks.
Rios was coming off an impressive 10 round decision win over Jayson Velez on November 21, while Esquivias had not fought in over a year. He had dropped his two previous bouts.
From the opening bell, Rios pressed the action, focusing his attack on the body of Esquivias, who is a notorious slow starter. Rios mixed in overhand right hands to the head, keeping Esquivias on the defensive.
Rios' attack paid off near the end of the first round, when an overhand right dropped Esquivias against the ropes. Esquivias was able to make it out of the round.
Sensing he was still hurt, Rios continued his attack, eventually cornering Esquivias. Rios unleashed a barrage of punches that prompted referee Raul Caiz, Jr. to step in and stop the bout at 37 seconds.
Junior welterweight Zachary Ochoa (15-0, 7 KOs) scored an emphatic one-punch knockout in the eighth round over Luis Gonzalez.
Ochoa and Gonzalez mostly traded in the center of the ring during the first two rounds, with Ochoa countering with straight rights. The southpaw Gonzalez (11-4-1, 6 KOs) almost scored a knockdown with a left hand in the third round, but Ochoa was able to regain his balance.
Gonzalez pursued Ochoa around the ring during the second half of the fight, while Ochoa looked to counter. Ochoa ended matters in the eighth round, throwing and landing a right cross to the chin, dropping Gonzalez flat on his back. Referee Jerry Cantu immediately waved the fight over at 41 seconds.
Flyweight Seniesa Estrada (7-0, 1 KO) survived a third round knockdown to win a hard-fought six round decision over Christina Fuentes. Estrada threw and landed numerous combinations, finishing with a left hook to the head of Fuentes. Midway through the third round, Fuentes (4-8-5) dropped Estrada with a right hand to the head. While Estrada was down, Fuentes followed up with another punch, prompting referee Raul Caiz, Jr. to deduct a point from Fuentes. Both fighters had their moments in the fourth round, but Estrada landed the more-telling blows in the final two rounds. All three judges scored the bout in favor of Estrada, 59-54, 59-54, and 58-55.
Featherweight Rafael Gramajo (8-1-1, 2 KOs) won a six round unanimous decision over Harold Reyes, who fought nine days ago. Reyes (2-6-1) was the busier and more effective fighter early on, countering Gramajo with left and right hands to the head. Reyes began to slow down in the second half of the fight, allowing Gramajo to pin him against the ropes and attack the body. Both fighters had their moments during the last two rounds, but it was Gramajo who won the decision by scores of 59-55, 59-55, and 58-56.
Junior featherweight Pablo Rubio (6-0, 3 KOs) won a six round unanimous decision over Jorge Perez, who was deducted a point in the second round for butting Rubio in the head.While Rubio landed the more-telling blows throughout the fight, it was Perez (2-3, 1 KO) who looked the worse for wear, as he was bleeding profusely from the nose since the third round. All three judge scored the bout in favor of Rubio, 59-54, 59-54, 60-53.
In the opening bout of the Golden Boy Promotions card, junior featherweight Tenochtitlan Nava won a four round unanimous decision over 43-year-old David Montes. Nava (2-0) was the aggressor from the outset, never letting up from the barrage of punches onto Montes (0-3), who looked spent towards the end of the fight. All three judges scored the bout 40-36 in favor of Nava.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco 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