UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – Juan Jose Velasco didn’t beat the opponent he had hoped to fight Saturday night.
Instead of squaring off against Adrien Broner in a “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event, Velasco settled for defeating Zachary Ochoa in a hard-fought, non-televised, 10-round junior welterweight bout on the Broner-Jovanie Santiago undercard at Mohegan Sun Arena. Argentina’s Velasco landed the harder punches throughout their bout, bruised and bloodied Ochoa’s face and won a 10-round split decision.
Judges Glenn Feldman (97-93) and Tom Schreck (96-94) scored their fight for Velasco. Judge Waleska Roldan scored it for Brooklyn’s Ochoa (96-94).
Velasco (23-2, 14 KOs) has won three straight fights since unbeaten WBA world super lightweight champ Mario Barrios knocked him out in the second round of their May 2019 fight. Ochoa (21-2, 7 KOs) had won five consecutive bouts against pedestrian opposition before losing to Velasco.
Velasco was seriously considered last month as the opponent for Broner’s comeback from a two-year layoff. Puerto Rico’s Santiago (14-0-1, 10 KOs) ultimately was chosen to replace Mexico’s Pedro Campa (31-1-1, 21 KOs), once Broner’s original opponent contracted COVID-19 last month.
Ochoa was effective throughout the 10th round, when he let his hands go in combination more than he had done in previous rounds. He was busier, mostly kept Velasco on his back foot and landed the harder punches in that final round.
Ochoa kept trying in the ninth round, but his lack of power never deterred Velasco from pressing him. Velasco blasted Ochoa with a right hand toward the end of the ninth.
Swelling around Ochoa’s left eye was noticeable at the start of the eighth round, when Velasco also opened a cut over Ochoa’s right eye. Velasco landed a left-right combination that moved Ochoa backward early in the eighth round.
Velasco continued to land hard shots as Ochoa remained on his back foot for most of the eighth round.
Velasco snapped back Ochoa’s head with two right uppercuts in the first half of the seventh round. He also drilled Ochoa with a straight right as Ochoa came forward with his hands down later in the seventh.
Velasco caught Ochoa with the cleaner, harder punches just before the bell sounded to end the eighth as well.
Velasco and Ochoa traded left hooks early in the sixth round, which set the tone for an action-packed three minutes.
Ochoa backed up Velasco with a combination in the final minute of the fifth round, his best round of the fight to that point.
Ochoa landed a straight right and two left hooks in the first half of the fourth round, but his power wasn’t enough to deter Velasco. Velasco caught Ochoa with a right hand that moved him backward toward the end of the fourth round.
Velasco landed a right uppercut in an exchange during the third round. He also connected with a right to the side of Ochoa’s head later in the third.
Ochoa caught Velasco with a right uppercut of his own just after the 10-second warning came toward the end of the third round.
Velasco clipped Ochoa with a right to the side of his head early in the second round. Ochoa connected with a left hook later in the second round, but Velasco kept coming forward.
A right hand by Velasco made Ochoa retreat late in the second round.
Velasco was the aggressor throughout the first round, but Ochoa caught with a counter left hook in an exchange in the final minute of it.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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