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Andy Vences and Erick DeLeon fight to a majority draw; Alex Saucedo scores thunderous KO


CARSON, Calif. — Undefeated junior lightweight up-and-comers Andy Vences and Erick De Leon came into their fight risking their perfect records and hoping a win would propel the winner into a bigger fight in a talented 130-pound division.

That person will be … both? Vences and DeLeon fought to a majority draw in an entertaining fight Saturday night at StubHub Center on the Oscar Valdez-Scott Quigg undercard.

Two judges scored it 95-95, and one judge had it 96-94 for De Leon. Vences won the 10th round on all three scorecards to get a draw.

Neither fighter was happy with the result.

“Come on, I showed ring generalship. I hurt him a couple of times. I hurt him in the last round,” Vences said. “I know I wasn’t as active, but the shots I was throwing were powerful. That’s what the pro game is about. It’s the hurt game. It’s not the amateur game.”

Said De Leon: “It was a really good fight, but I think I won. I landed the hardest shots. He never hurt me. Those were 10 rounds of pure pressure where I had him walking backwards the whole way. I really think I won the fight.”

The fight was highly competitive throughout, but Vences was a bit quicker, and he seemed to get off to a good start. In the fifth round, he briefly wobbled De Leon with a right hand and also caught him with effective body shots. De Leon, the more accomplished amateur, resorted to lunging and throwing wild punches, but he came back later in the fight.

In the seventh round, 26-year-old Vences (20-0-1, 12 KOs) of San Jose, California, snapped De Leon’s head back with a jab, but De Leon (17-0-1, 10 KOs), a 26-year-old southpaw from Detroit who was the heavier puncher, quickly responded with a good right hand that knocked Vences off balance. There was a lot of back and forth in the late rounds, making it a difficult fight to score.

De Leon fought despite the absence of his trainer, Robert Garcia, who was in San Antonio for his brother Mikey Garcia’s junior welterweight title shot against Sergey Lipinets. Instead, Robert Garcia Jr. ran the corner.

Falcao punches way into title fight

Middleweight contender Esquiva Falcao (20-0, 14 KOs), a 2012 Olympic silver medalist from Brazil, blew away former junior middleweight world title challenger Salim Larbi (20-9-2, 7 KOs) in the first round Saturday in his final fight before an expected summer world title shot against secondary titlist Ryota Murata in Las Vegas.

“I wanted to blast him in the ring. I wanted to win by knockout and show everybody I am ready to fight for world title,” Falcao said through a translator. “I want to challenge Murata. I want the rematch from the 2012 Olympic Games. The judges gave him the victory that time, but he knows I won. I want to show the world that I am the real Olympic champion. Now I am ready to become a world champion.”

Japan’s Murata still has to do his part to set up the fight with Falcao. He has to come through a title defense against Emanuele Felice Blandamura on April 15 in Yokohama, Japan. If the Murata-Falcao fight comes off, it would be a rematch of the 2012 Olympic final, which Murata (13-1, 10 KOs), 32, won to claim the gold medal.

Falcao, a 28-year-old southpaw, dropped France’s Larbi, a 30-year-old who fights out of Brooklyn, New York, with a right-left combination and moments later landed another 1-2 down the middle to knock him down again. Referee Raul Caiz Sr. waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 6 seconds.

Larbi lost his fourth fight in a row and fifth in his past six bouts.

  • Junior welterweight Alex Saucedo (27-0, 17 KOs), 23, of Oklahoma City, struggled early against Abner Lopez (25-9, 21 KOs), 27, of Mexico, but the fight came to a sudden end when Saucedo knocked him out with a brutal left hook to the body in the seventh round.

    Lopez grimaced and went down in agony, and referee Caiz Sr. immediately called off the fight at 1 minute, 18 seconds.

    Lopez, who lost his third fight in a row, took it to Saucedo early and worked him over to the head and body, especially in the second round, when he opened a cut under Saucedo’s right eye. But Saucedo slowly got back into the action-packed fight and had him in trouble in the sixth round. Saucedo had a huge sixth round, badly hurting Lopez along the ropes with a series of clean punches, including an overhand right, that nearly dropped him.

    “The first couple of rounds were a little bit slow for me, but I made my adjustments and I started to apply pressure,” said Saucedo, who is trained by Abel Sanchez. “When I started to get my rhythm, I knew that it was just a matter of time until I knocked him out. I felt a little uncomfortable in the first two rounds, but I have trained very hard in Big Bear, and the sacrifices that I have made while being up there really helped me when things get tough in the ring. I’m ready for the big fights.”

  • Heavyweight contender Andy Ruiz (30-1, 20 KOs), returning to the ring for the first time in 15 months and with trainer Manny Robles for the first time, scored a one-punch knockout of Devin Vargas (20-5, 8 KOs) in the first round.

    Ruiz, 28, a Mexico native fighting out of Imperial, California, was fighting for the first time since December 2016, when he traveled to New Zealand and lost a majority decision to Joseph Parker for a vacant world title.

    Ruiz, who was 260.2 pounds to Vargas’ 217.4, wasted no time. He nailed Vargas with an overhand right near the ear that badly hurt Vargas and dropped him, causing referee Thomas Taylor to stop the fight at 1 minute, 38 seconds.

    Vargas, 36, of Toledo, Ohio, was a 2004 U.S. Olympian and was fighting Saturday for the third time since returning to boxing in 2017 following a three-year layoff.

    “I haven’t been in the ring for 15 months, so I wanted to take my time and let my hands go when possible,” Ruiz said. “I stayed composed. I’ve had 31 pro fights now. I’ve been doing this a long time. It’s a new beginning, a new start, a new everything. After this fight, we’re going to continue in the gym, keep working, and next fight, I’m going to look better.”

    Parker is due to meet Anthony Joshua in a unification fight on March 31, and Ruiz is rooting for Parker.

    “I think Parker has a shot to beat Joshua. It’s a 50-50 fight, and hopefully Parker wins so we can get the rematch,” Ruiz said.

  • Los Angeles junior welterweight Arnold Barboza Jr. (18-0, 6 KOs) ground out a unanimous decision against Mike Reed (23-2, 12 KOs) in a tough fight. Barboza, 26, who suffered a cut over his left eye, won via scores of 97-93, 96-94 and 96-94. Barboza rocked Reed several times with right hands throughout the fight, but Reed hung in there and had his moments. Reed, a 25-year-old southpaw from Waldorf, Maryland, lost his second fight in a row, having been stopped in the second round by Jose Ramirez on Nov. 11.

  • Lightweight Mikaela Mayer (4-0, 3 KOs), a 2016 U.S. Olympian, went straight to Maria Semertzoglou (7-4, 2 KOs), 36, of Greece, at the opening bell and overwhelmed her with punches set up by a strong jab. Mayer, 27, of Los Angeles, unloaded numerous clean shots. With Semertzoglou defenseless, referee Sharon Sands stopped the fight 35 seconds into the first round. It was the first time Semertzoglou has been stopped.

    “Honestly, I expected her to last a little longer than that,” Mayer said. “We studied her, and she seemed to be aggressive and tough. She looked aggressive and strong, so I expected her to give me more of a challenge. I think she was a little bit intimidated by my jab, and that one right hand put her against the ropes.”

    Quigg promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing also promotes women’s lightweight world titlist Katie Taylor and said this week he wanted to take a look at Mayer as a possible future opponent for Taylor (8-0, 4 KOs).

  • Junior lightweight Bryan Lua (4-0, 1 KOs), 20, of Madera, California, scored a highlight-reel, first-round knockout of Jesus Arevalo (2-3, 0 KOs), 28, of Sierra Vista, Arizona. Lua connected with a clean left hook and knocked Arevalo out at 1 minute, 21 seconds.



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