Late Replacement Eddie Sanchez Upsets J.C. Candelo on Friday Night Fights

By Darren Nichols @ Ringside


Late Replacement Eddie Sanchez Upsets J.C. Candelo on Friday Night Fights

Having been in the ring with the higher-ups of the junior middleweight division like Kasim Ouma, Angel Hernandez and current division king Winky Wright was not enough for J.C. Candelo to take apart his not-so-well-known and late replacement opponent Eddie Sanchez. Candelo would have gone up against Joachim Alcine had the undefeated fighter not failed his medical exam after testing positive for Hepatitis C. Sanchez found out while having lunch on Friday, literally hours before he went on the air in the main event of ESPN's Friday Night Fights that he would be facing his toughest opponent to date. What ensued was a constant battle between these two tall 154-pounders that gave those in attendance more than their monies worth.

The first two rounds of Friday Night Fight's main event saw Sanchez punish Candelo with a combination of hooks to the ribs that was followed up with straight rights upstairs that occasionally found their mark. Knowing this was the biggest fight of his career to date, Sanchez did not fight intimidated, but instead with heart landing monstrous shots downstairs, while Candelo retreated before landing nice combinations of crosses to Sanchez' head.

Candelo began his upswing momentum in round three by landing two left jabs followed by a huge straight right to put his opponent against the ropes. Sanchez had enough wits about him to get out of Candelo's snare, and countered with several classic one-two's.

After three rounds of hearing his trainer Buddy McGirt's pleading to be busier, Candelo dug deep and pressed the action for most of round four. He welcomed any exchange Sanchez was willing to get involved in, as Candelo began moving slicker and quicker around the ring, forcing his opponent to fight while on the retreat. Candelo used his long reach to find Sanchez' head with short jabs and straight rights, but Sanchez stole the round when he landed a powerful combination of crosses that landed flush on the side of Candelo's face.

Absorbing one shot in order to land two of his own, Sanchez fought with more determination and heart in an attempt to knock out the fighter who had gone the distance with junior middleweight king Winky Wright. Regardless of the fact that many came to see Candelo fight, Sanchez starting winning the crowd over in round five with his continuous and punishing use of leather. With shouts of "Eddie" reverberating throughout the ballroom, the two fighters spent most of the round in a war that spanned the four corners of the ring with each fighter landing monstrous shots upstairs.

Candelo caught a break in the opening seconds of round six when he landed a crisp right uppercut to Sanchez' head dropping him to one knee. After the mandatory eight-count, the fallen fighter, who was blatantly tired continued to fight off his attacker with long jabs and hooks upstairs that found their way onto Candelo's head. Worn out and hurt, Sanchez escaped the round by forcing his opponent into a chase around the ring and by extending his long arm that kept Candelo at bay.

Round seven saw both fighters jockeying for the best position to land a stiff jab or hook to each other's head, but they both failed to inflict any damage to the other. However in round eight, Sanchez got Candelo against the ropes and landed another classic "one-two" that found its way through Candelo's gloves and flat on his nose. Sanchez repeated this action seconds later, but this time he decided to work his opponent's body in order to take some gas out of Candelo's tank.

Like he had in previous rounds, Candelo found his target by attacking Sanchez' upstairs, but as soon as the exchange began, Candelo would get into retreat mode and allow Sanchez to press the action with straight rights to his head. With less than a minute left into round nine, Sanchez was hit by a hard blow not from a glove but instead from Candelo's head, forcing the referee in charge of the action to stop the bout briefly to check on any cranial damage. Seeing none, the fight continued and that is when Candelo landed his best shot of the fight in the form of a huge right hook to Sanchez' head. However, Sanchez once again escaped the round by wisely extending his long jab knowing from experience it would be enough to hold off Candelo's attack.

Even though Sanchez appeared the more tired fighter coming into round ten, he continued to fight on as Candelo waged war on his opponent's head and body. With both fighters landing huge shots throughout the first half of the round, the tide turned when Sanchez smacked Candelo's ribs with a stinging right hook. This put Candelo on the run, and had there been more time left on the clock Sanchez could have and would have sealed the deal.

Candelo returned the favor a minute later into the eleventh round when he had Sanchez on the run after landing a two punch combination upstairs, but Sanchez proved to have the bigger heart as he returned fire in the form of the one-two combo that had served him so well in the previous rounds. Obviously frustrated that his fighter had not taken out Sanchez yet, McGirt pleaded with Candelo to go out of the twelfth and final round and look impressive for the judges.

Candelo heeded to his trainer's advice as he landed two consecutive left hooks to Sanchez' head in the opening moments of the last round. Obviously and understandably hurt, Sanchez wisely grabbed Candelo at the waist, but Candelo knew that there was no time left in the round for hugging. Having nothing to do with Sanchez' embrace, Candelo pushed his suppressor away, but Sanchez' genetics scored a victory when he stuck out his long-armed jab that put Candelo on the mat even though the third man in the ring ruled it a slip. Nevertheless, this put the momentum of the final round into Sanchez' favor, and he took advantage of it by chasing Candelo around the ring landing more combination of straight rights and hooks to Candelo's head. The crowd was on their feet during the final seconds of the fight as these two warriors squared off in the center of the ring tossing out a plethora of leather, and they stayed that way when the announcer read the judges' scores of 118-109, 117-110, and 115-112 all for the fan favorite Eddie Sanchez. Sanchez not only won the biggest fight of his career but he did it by winning the hearts of the fight fans at the Pechanga Resort and Casino. With this impressive victory Sanchez improves to 12-3-2 (8), while Candelo disappointingly drops to 26-7-3 (18).

Lucero's Aggressively Attacks Pereira but Fails to Impress the Judges

In what would be the motif of the fight, a body attack ensued during the opening moments of round one between 126-pounders Valdemir Pereira and Emmanuel Lucero. Both fighters strategically tossed out light jabs upstairs in order to blind their opponent before dishing out the real punishment: thunderous digs to the ribs. Lucero was more successful at first with his defense of ducking low then shooting up to offensively land uppercuts and hooks to Pereira's body.

Aware after three minutes of a body-attack war, Pereira came out for round two punishing his attacker with meat-hook shots of his own. Lucero was hard to find for Pereira as his punches that normally would have landed on the body were finding their way to Lucero's smaller head target due to Lucero's low stance. To counter Pereira's attack and frustrate his opponent, Lucero played the stick-and-move card brilliantly forcing Pereira to use up his energy by chasing Lucero around the ring rather than the preferred position of standing still and engaging in an all-and-out war.

Lucero game plan for victory was working quite well for himself, as he had Pereira on the run and covering up for most of the third and fourth round. Lucero landed at rapid-fire speed hard smacking shots downstairs only to then go upstairs to administer more punishment there. Lucero remained the busier fighter throughout these two rounds, as he had his opponent under cover behind his own gloves, only coming out to throw one to two shots before going back into hiding. Having felt Pereira's power, or lack of it, Lucero dropped his hands and relied instead on his quicker head movement and rolls of the shoulder to evade his opponent's punches. Pereira found his desired target occasionally but was still being overworked by the shorter Lucero.

Pereira got the attention of Lucero and the crowd's as well when he landed a monstrous left hook that resonated throughout the Pechanga ballroom to begin round five. However, Pereira failed to cash in on his telling blows, and instead returned to his "hiding behind his gloves" stance. For the first time, both boxers appeared tired – Lucero from the amount of punishment he was dishing out, and Pereira from the amount that he was absorbing.

For the first time in their fight, Pereira and Lucero opened up a round by attacking upstairs. However, he could not help but return to his opponent's body while dancing beautifully around the ring with his hands at his side. This time the odds caught up with him and Pereira found Lucero's head almost at will. Stubbornly, Lucero was not defending himself by putting his hands up. A couple times Pereira seemed to have Lucero in trouble and still the shorter fighter would not put his hands in front of his face. Lucero was trying to impress the crowd with his superior head movement, but they were instead flabbergasted as to why this boxer was not defending himself after being hit so flush so many times in the head.

This type of action continued throughout round seven, but Lucero was penalized a point when one of his left hooks to the body ventured too far south of the border. After less than minute of much needed recoup time, Pereira came out of the neutral corner only to be met with a barrage of body shots that found their way in to his ribs. Just as stubborn as Lucero was to defend himself in the prior round, Pereira failed to cover his abused body, but instead held his gloves high over his face.

The two boxers tossed out light jabs throughout round eight giving themselves more much needed rest time, for even Lucero's body shots did not carry the sting that they had in the previous rounds.

In the ninth round Lucero reinstated his dance routine around the ring, fighting with his hands down and landing quick jabs to Pereira's head and body. As a result of Lucero's quicker feet, Pereira could only toss out snapping jabs upstairs in order to score some points with the judges, but very few hit their intended mark.

Egged on by "boo's" from the crowd due to a lack of engagement, Pereira and Lucero finally went to war after shuffling around the ring for over a minute into round ten. However, those jeering in attendance were not at all satisfied once the two fighters returned to action since their choice of finishing off their ten-round battle was to dance around the ring, only coming in together to throw a quick flurry of meaningless and powerless leather, than hugging each other until they were released to start their routine all over again. When the scorecards were read, a split decision was the verdict, and with scores of 97-92 and 95-94 for Pereira, and 95-94 for Lucero, Pereira remains undefeated with a record of 18-0 (14), while Lucero drops to 22-2-1 (13). Lucero commented after the fight that barring any big money fight, this was to be his last and he would spend his days with his family managing his restaurant.

Herman Ngoudjo Hands Jorge Padilla His First Loss

These two junior welterweights only needed a minute to get through their "feeling out" phase. The rest of their opening round was fought in a phone booth as both fighters landed their fair share of straight jabs and powerful hooks upstairs, but it was Ngoudjo that stole the round by mixing it up with uppercuts that landed flush on Padilla's chin.

Padilla was stunned twice in the opening moments of round two when Ngoudjo landed a left-right hook combination to his opponent's head. Padilla wisely hung on to Ngoudjo until he cleared the cobwebs that had just formed in his head. When the action continued, the two danced brilliantly around the ring landing quick jabs to the body and head until the bell sounded to end round two.

Ngoudjo met Padilla in his corner to land a snapping jab that brought the Mexican's head staring at the lights hanging above him. Knowing how the round could go, Padilla hung on to his opponent to get some more rest, but Ngoudjo fought out of the clench to land a monstrous left hook that was followed by a right hook to bring Padilla's halfway out of his mouth and in deep trouble. As hard as these two tried to fight for the last minute of the round, they seemed to be hugging each other more than throwing leather.

The holding carried over into round four where if either boxer landed even the softest jab, they would hold each other rather than exchanging leather. The referee threatened several times to deduct points, but never did. When the judges' voices were heard, one scored it 39-37 for Padilla, while the other two both scored it 40-36 for Ngoudjo, giving him the split-decision victory. Ngoudjo remains undefeated with a record of 5-0 (4), while Padilla drops his first with a record of 4-1 (2).

Soriano Takes Split Decision From Almazon

Coming with a 14-38-5 (1) record, one would expect that Justo Almazon would have been an easy walkover for Antonio Soriano, especially since the Lakeside resident's prior victories all ended in knockout. However, Almazon's fight experience, as well as his swinging hooks upstairs, gave Soriano trouble throughout their four-round battle. As wild as they were, Almazon landed his punches with surprising accuracy, only to be slowed by Soriano's stiff jabs that snapped his opponent's head back. Neither boxer seemed phased by the other and it went to the judges after sixteen minutes of action where one judges scored the fight in favor of Almazon with a score of 39-37, only to be overruled by the other two with scores of 40-36 and 39-37. Almazon moves down a notch, while Soriano improves to 10-2-1 (9).

In other action Junior welterweight Anthony Salcido needed only :58 seconds to dispatch Alvaro Morales into a brief unconscious state. Salcido improves to 3-0 (2), while Morales reduces to an average of .500 with a record to 2-2 (1).

Trained by Buddy McGirt, Kelsey Jeffries swept Melissa Yanas on all three judges' scorecards with a four round unanimous decision. Jeffries ups her record to 28-8 (2), while Yanas falls to 3-3 (2).