By Gilbert Manzano
CORONA, Calif. — Saul Sanchez’s all-out approach gave him a bloody nose and a gash on the skull, but it also kept him undefeated on Friday.
Sanchez was the last man standing after a back-and-forth bantamweight brawl with Brandon Leon Benitez in the opening bout of a ShoBox tripleheader at Omega Products Events Center. Sanchez was awarded a knockout victory after the referee stopped the bout early in the eighth round.
The ringside doctor nearly called off the fight after Sanchez pummeled Benitez for most of the seventh round.
Sanchez nearly took out Benitez with a one-two combination that rocked the Mexican fighter near the end of the fourth round. Sanchez emptied the tank but couldn’t put Benitez away before the bell. Sanchez also staggered Benitez with a left hook early in the fourth round.
Benitez had success in Rounds 2 and 3 by countering against the aggressive Sanchez, who appeared winded after throwing numerous punches in the opening round. But Sanchez regained control after landing a power right hand to hurt Benitez in the third round.
In his prior fight in October, Sanchez was pushed to the limit by Luis Saavedra. Sanchez escaped with a majority decision with scores of 76-76, 77-75 and 77-75.
Sanchez has been with trainer Joel Diaz since his second pro fight. For this camp, he spared with Diego De La Hoya, a top junior featherweight and cousin of Oscar De La Hoya.
“My training camp for this fight is the longest one I've ever had, two months,” Sanchez said before the fight. “I think I'm a brawler or something, but I can box if I need to. Like in my last fight (versus Saavedra), I was moving around pretty well. I can do both a little bit, and I like countering punches.”
To open the event, former world title challenger Petr Petrov made quick work of Ruben Tamayo in their scheduled eight-round junior welterweight bout.
Petrov dropped Tamayo three times before the referee stopped the fight with one second left in the second round. The Russian-born, Spanish resident has now won two consecutive fights since losing to Ivan Baranchyk and Terry Flanagan in back-to-back bouts.
The 36-year-old Petrov has also been in the ring with Marcos Maidana and Dejan Zlaticanin.
In the second fight of the night, Steven Acosta opened his professional career by defeating Jose Emmanuel Lopez in a four-round super flyweight bout. The three judges had identical scorecards of 39-37.