By Jake Donovan

A perceived tune-up in the co-feature slot “Latin Fury 11” proved disastrous for Fernando Montiel, who was forced to contend with a cut and swollen shut left eye, a bloody nose and a resilient effort by Alejandro Valdez.

What he had on his side were fans in the Mexican boxing commission, who went back and forth on the official verdict before ultimately announcing the fight a technical draw.

The anti-climactic contest served as the televised co-feature, aired live El Palenque de la Feria in Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico. Both fighters weighed 119 lb, one pound above the bantamweight limit, which meant Montiel’s fringe paper title was not at stake.  

Few expected a competitive bout, least of all Montiel, who was supposed to breeze past Valdez en route to a November showdown with former titlist Eric Morel. Montiel threatened to end the fight early, dropping Valdez a minute in, courtesy of a left hook, left uppercut combination.

Montiel once again rocked the southpaw later in the round with a right hand, though now forced to contend with a cut over his left eye. Replays revealed after the fight that the cut was caused by a Valdez jab, though apparently undetected by referee Jesus Saucedo, whose sole purpose for the evening appeared to be to do everything in his power to ensure that Monteil would escape with anything other than a loss.

More drama unfolded in the second. Valdez still found himself under siege, including a right hand that left him frozen. Rather than wilting, Valdez took Montiel’s best and gave back in return. An exchange in center ring left Montiel with a bloody nose in addition to a left eye that was rapidly swelling shut.

Valdez tried valiantly to turn things around, and appeared to be well on his way when he scored a three-punch combo, the last of which a right uppercut that stunned and dropped Montiel. However, the referee overruled the event, insisting that he called time to have Montiel’s eye examined, much to Valdez’ surprise.

Referee Jesus Saucedo’s assistance was apparently required; bailing out Montiel after a Valdez flurry was interrupted for a warning over a headbutt that never occurred. His vision seriously compromised, Montiel all but ceased fighting back, moving backwards as Valdez continued to stalk in search of a dramatic upset.

He would never get his chance at a conclusive ending, though a bizarre string of events would eventually provide justification.

Sensing their fighter was at the point of no return, Montiel’s corner signaled to the ringside official that their kid was done for the evening. The referee waved his arms to officially end the fight, at which point Valdez leaped in the air, believing he won the fight by technical knockout.

The official announcement was every bit as inconclusive as the fight itself. No indication was given as to what caused the cut that resulted in the fight ending after just three rounds, nor did the ring announcer even get the round correct, though revealing that the fight was ruled a No-Contest by Montiel’s unofficial tag-team partner.

Chaos ensued in the ring, with Valdez’ team refusing to leave until they received an explanation as to why their fighter wasn’t ruled a knockout winner. Their persistence paid off; nobody at ringside could offer a valid reason, overturning the verdict in Valdez’ favor.

However, that overturned verdict didn’t stick. Sometime after the camera finished rolling, the inept Mexican boxing commission once again changed the verdict back to a technical draw. This, despite the fact that no evidence existed of a headbutt or any other accidental foul causing the cut over Montiel’s left eye, or a ruling of any kind by the third man.

Despite being cheated of an official win, the performance breathes new life into the career of Valdez, whose record is now at 21-3-3 (15KO). It was a much needed bounce back effort after getting flattened nearly a year ago by Hozumi Hasegawa, widely considered the best bantamweight on the planet.

Some believed that Montiel would one day plead his case for such honors. Chances are he’ll have to wait until 2010 to make a run for such honors.  Still in tow is the paper bantamweight title he entered the ring with, and his seven fight win streak still intact with his record moving sideways to 39-2-2 (29KO).

Seemingly out the window is a showcase title defense against Eric Morel on the Miguel Cotto-Manny Pacquiao undercard later this year. Even with promoter Bob Arum’s past practice of erasing a loss and still proceeding with the original plan, the cuts and punishment suffered by Montiel in this fight would seem too severe to return by year’s end, never mind in another nine weeks.

Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com and an award-winning member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Contact Jake at JakeNDaBox@gmail.com.