by David P. Greisman
AT&T Stadium - Welterweight contender Sadam Ali came back for the first time since his March stoppage loss to Jessie Vargas, winning a unanimous decision over Saul Corral.
Two judges had it 99-90, reflecting the knockdown Ali scored in the fourth round, while the third had it 99-91, scoring that round 10-9 instead of 10-8.
“The plan was to get the knockout, but that didn’t happen with this victory,” Ali said afterward, according to quotes provided by the show’s publicists. “My opponent definitely had a Mexican style to him, and I was not expecting the reach he had with his arms. I knew I hurt him in the exchange of blows in the fourth round, and other times throughout the fight. This is still the win I needed and worked hard for, and I know the next fight I am in will demonstrate my willpower.”
Ali, a Brooklynite who will turn 28 later this month, is now 23-1 with 13 KOs. Corral, a 29-year-old from Mexico, is now either 21-8 (12 KOs) according to the official bout sheet or 22-8 (13 KOs) according to BoxRec.
Junior welterweight prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr. made very quick work of Ernesto Hernandez, knocking him out after following two missed jabs with a right hand that landed. The end came 40 seconds into the opening round.
“I feel motivated with this win. Never in my dreams did I expect to be on such a stage so early in my career,” Ortiz said, according to quotes provided by the show’s publicists. “In the ring, I knew my opponent was hungry for redemption early because he kept trying to throw some overhand punches. But I kept tight, and when I landed my double jab and straight right punch combination, I had a feeling that he wasn’t going to get back up. I am glad I have such a solid start to my career, and I’m looking forward to more massive fights.”
Ortiz, an 18-year-old from Dallas, is now 2-0 (2 KOs). Hernandez, 28, of El Paso, Texas, is now 1-4 (1 KO).
As expected, the fighter with the undefeated record — junior lightweight/lightweight prospect Hector Tanajara Jr. — won against the fighter who had lost 19 of his 23 fights. Tanajara took a shutout decision over said opponent, Roy Garcia, with all three judges seeing it 40-36.
Tanajara, 19, from San Antonio, is now 7-0 (4 KOs). Garcia, 31, of Alice, Texas, is now 3-20-1 (2 KOs).
“It’s an amazing feeling being able to fight in my home state. I could hear my family members cheering from the stands, and it’s a blessing that they were able to come out to my first HBO performance,” Tanajara said, according to quotes provided by the show’s publicists. “I honestly thought I was going to be able to get the knock out, but my opponent wanted to brawl, and he had a resistance in the ring that I didn’t expect. In the end, I got my victory, and back to the gym we go.”
Garcia has lost nine in a row.
Bantamweight prospect Joshua Franco scored a crowd-pleasing fourth-round technical knockout for the fans who arrived at AT&T Stadium relatively early. He dropped Brian Bazan twice in the third, each time with uppercuts, then landed a beautiful left uppercut as a counter to Bazan’s hook early in the fourth, bringing the fight to an end.
The time of the stoppage was 0:19.
“I feel amazing getting the knockout in front of all my fans,” Franco said afterward, according to quotes provided by the show’s publicists. “This was only a taste of the things to come. I think my performance tonight showed that I can take on any opponent. I knew the first time he fell that it would only take a couple of shots until I could get the knockout.”
Franco, 20, of San Antonio, is now 7-0 (4 KOs). Bazan, of Mexico, is now either 9-3 (6 KOs) according to the official bout sheet or 9-4 (6 KOs) according to BoxRec.
Junior welterweight prospect Zachary Ochoa won a unanimous decision over Daniel Montoya. The scorecards were 79-73 (twice) and 80-72.
“I felt good in the ring, I knew I could stop him, but I hurt my knuckle in the second round blocking his right hand hook and counterpunching him with my left hook,” Ochoa said afterward, according to quotes provided by the show’s publicists. “It’s a good experience for me, to make sure that all my training is working.
“He was a tough guy, resilient, but I was in control the whole time. I knew my body shots were hurting him and I continued doing that to break him down,” Ochoa said. “I knew going in it was going to be a tough fight, but we trained exactly for this, and we are ready to take on the next talented fighter.”
Ochoa, 23, of Brooklyn, is now 16-0 (7 KOs). Montoya, a 26-year-old from Mexico, is now 11-5 (8 KOs).
Junior middleweight Alexis Salazar won a unanimous decision over journeyman Larry Smith. The scorecards were 60-54 (twice) and 58-56. Smith, a durable fighter, gave Salazar some work in going the distance.
Salazar, a 21-year-old from Mexico, is now either 8-3 (3 KOs) according to the official bout sheet or 13-3 (6 KOs) according to BoxRec. Smith, 37, of Dallas, is now 10-29-1 (6 KOs). He hasn’t won a fight since 2011 and is 0-24-1 in his past 25 fights.
"I felt good throughout the fight. I feel it was my technique that won this fight for me,” Salazar said afterward, according to quotes provided by the show's publicists. “My opponent was a tricky guy to fight, and I thought it would be an easier night for me because of his loss streak on his record, but he made me work and I think it was a good experience.”
Anthony Yarde kicked off the show at AT&T Stadium by scoring a first-round technical knockout over Rayford Johnson.
Yarde landed a big left hook while Johnson was on the ropes. Johnson didn’t go down, but he was clearly out on his feet. The referee for some reason ruled it a knockdown, giving Johnson a count even though Johnson never went to the canvas. He should’ve just ended things right there as Johnson wobbled, drool coming from his mouth. The referee thankfully soon waved his hands in the air rather than letting the action continue.
The end came at 2:10. Yarde, who came in at 185.25 pounds, had earlier this year fought at 177, so he may be more of a light heavyweight prospect than a cruiserweight, despite his weight for this fight.
"Obviously I'm happy to get the win, but I was trying to carry him a bit," Yarde said afterward, according to quotes provided by the show's publicists. "I wanted more time in the ring, I wanted to get some rounds in and take in more of this experience in AT&T Stadium.That’s why I didn't follow up after I hit him with my left hook. But overall I got the win, so I'm content with that.”
Yarde, a 25-year-old from the United Kingdom, moves to 8-0 with 7 KOs. Johnson, 36, of Longview, Texas, is now either 11-22 with 5 KOs (going by the official bout sheet) or 11-21 with 6 KOs (going by BoxRec). Johnson has lost four in a row, six of his last seven, and 12 of his last 15.
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at email@example.com
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