Flyweight prospect Ricardo Rafael Sandoval looks to extend his 13-fight win streak as he takes on Philippines’ Raymond Tabugon (22-11-1, 11KOs). The two collide in scheduled 10-round affair atop an eight fight card at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California (Thursday, DAZN, 10:00pm ET/7:00pm PT and local time).
Sandoval (17-1, 12KOs)—who celebrated his 21st birthday on Wednesday—returns stateside and to this venue for the first time since a thrilling 5th round knockout of Marco Sustaita last July. Both fighters hit the deck, with Sandoval going down twice before rallying back to score the stoppage and avoid landing on the wrong side of a night of upsets
Tabugon fights stateside for just the third time in his career, while still in search of his first win on U.S. soil. His last such appearance came in his very venue, suffering a 5th round stoppage at the hands of former junior flyweight titlist Angel ‘Tito’ Acosta last October.
Sulem Urbina made quite an impression in her U.S. debut.
The former amateur standout and current unbeaten flyweight thoroughly outworked Noemi Bosques over six rounds in their DAZN-streamed preliminary. Scores were 60-54 across the board in favor Urbina, who never stopped throwing power punches from the opening bell.
A considerable amount of buzz came with Urbina’s appearance on this show. The 29-year old from Hermosillo, Mexico—who now lives and trains in Phoenix, Arlzona—came just one fight short of representing her homeland in the 2016 Rio Olympics, turning pro soon thereafter.
It’s been a steady rise to contention, with Urbina turning in a complete performance versus an all-too-game Bosques. Left hooks were launched with regularity and ferocity, with Urbina digging to the body early and often chin-checking her opponent for good measure.
To her credit, Bosques took every last bit of punishment, as the Puerto Rican trialhorse from St. Petersburg, Florida went punch-for-punch with the unbeaten contender but was nowhere nearly as accurate.
Urbina badly rocked Bosques with a left hook upstairs late in round four, with referee Thomas Taylor threatening to stop the contest. The bell saved Bosques (12-15-3, 2KOs), and her fighting heart spared her the pain of trainer Tony Morgan—who guided the career of former welterweight titlist Andre Berto—having to keep her in the corner and on her stool.
Urbina continued to apply heavy pressure, at the urging of cutman and otherwise noted local trainer Joel Diaz who insisted the crowd needed to see a knockout. It never came, although Urbina didn’t leave any doubt as to her superiority in the ring and her prospects as a flyweight to watch as she improves to 12-0 (2KOs).
Leonardo Baez is rapidly advancing from spoiler to rising contender.
The 24-year old Mexicali-based junior featherweight picked up his sixth straight win following an eight-round unanimous decision over former interim 122-pound titlist Moises ‘Chucky’ Flores.
Scores were 80-72 across the board in favor of Mexicali's Baez (18-2, 9KOs), who continues to hot streak at the right time in his improving career.
Action was furious throughout the eight-round affair, with Baez landing the heavier blows while Flores was the more active fighter. Baez set a fierce pace in the opening round, digging to the body with his left hook which he landed frequently upstairs while looking to find a home for his left uppercut. Flores connected with several right hands towards the final minute after coming a little slow out the gate, his sluggish start attributed to his having to lose five pounds the day of the official weigh-in barely 30 hours prior to opening bell.
Once settled into a groove, Flores was able to double up his punch output. The veteran boxer from Guadalajara stood toe-to-toe with Baez, who worked with Joel Diaz for his third straight fight, preparation which came complete with working alongside recently crowned unified 122-pound titlist Murodjon ‘MJ’ Akhmadaliev. It served him well here in a war of attrition, as Flores unloaded both clips in rounds two and three.
Baez rode out the storm, continuing to land the more telling blows as he took over in round four. Flores spent much of the frame following Baez around the ring, continuing to throw at will but also catching a long left uppercut and a frightening number of left hooks to the chin for his efforts.
Referee Edward Hernandez Jr. gave Flores a long hard look but allowed the action to continue, Flores did his best to turn the tide, but at the very least did well enough to allow the contest to go the distance. Baez outlanded his countryman in every round but was unable to put a dent in
Baez enjoyed a breakout moment last summer, scoring an upset 10-round decision win over Alberto Melian, a 2016 Olympian from Argentina who also appears on Thursday’s card. His first career loss came to countryman Julio Cesar Martinez, now a reigning flyweight titlist.
Flores is now winless in his last four starts, including three straight defeats as he falls to 25-3 (17KOs) with one No-Contest.
Antonio Reyes was the evening’s second claimed casualty in the way of accidental head clashes, as his junior featherweight clash with Diuhl Ulguin ended in a technical draw.
Action was spirited during the brief affair, with both fighters cut in just over two rounds of action. Ulguin (14-13-4, 9KOs) was pressed with the threat of a cuts stoppage loss as a wound opened up in round two which was ruled the result of a punch. The two bumped heads early in round three, leaving Reyes (7-0-1, 5KOs) with a cut that was deemed too severe to continue. Because the bout did not last long enough to be deemed official, in the in-ring call was a technical draw.
Oscar Acevedo managed to preserve his unbeaten record, though had to settle for a strangely scored majority decision over Dan Murray in a lightweight contest which fell just 30 seconds shy of going the distance.
The bout did, however, go to the scorecards when a clash of heads produced a cut over the right eye of Murray, a 28-year old from Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey. The sequence caused Murray to drop and roll around on the canvas in excruciating pain before making his way to his feet. It would prove to be the end of the fight, as the ringside physician waved off the action at 2:36 of round six.
Dr. Lou Moret somehow saw the action even at 57-57, the latest example of why the once-great ring official needs to call it career. Judges Rudy Barragan and Fernando Villareal fortunately watched the fight, each scoring the contest 59-55 in favor of Acevedo, who improves to 7-0 (0KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox