This was supposed to be a real test for Israel Vazquez, the current IBF featherweight champion. His first defense of his title turned out to be nothing more than a solid fifteen minute workout.
A thunderous right cross dropped the no. 1 ranked contender, Art Simonyan in the third round of their scheduled 12-round main attraction at the Sycuan Casino in El Cajon, CA, and a barrage of punches would finish off Simonyan in the fifth.
More impressive than Vazquez’s power on this rainy and blustery San Diego night, was his showing of being a complete fighter.
Vazquez came into the bout without the accolades of his contemporaries, but possesses all of the skills necessary to make him a fine champion.
From the initial bell Vazquez, a Mexico City native, utilized a stiff jab to open up his powerful right hand on the previously undefeated Simonyan of Armenia. The right hand of Vazquez proved to be too much on this night.
“I knew he was a good fighter with a decent chin,” said Vazquez. “I expected a tough fight, but it was my night tonight. I really felt that my power would be too much for him though.”
The power came early and often. Simonyan was sluggish from the opening frame. Speed was a problem for Simonyan during the five rounds as Vazquez continually beat him to the punch.
Both men were willing to exchange blows, but Vazquez (37-3, 28 KOs) got the better of most, if not all of the inside violent destruction.
The complete fighter showed in Vazquez as he was able to weave his way through Simonyan’s shots and thread the needle with intense and violent counterpunches. It was one of these right hand counterpunches that would drop the Armenian in the third and set the tone for the rest of the bout.
The right hand of Vazquez eventually ripped a wicked little cut under the left eye of Simonyan. This was only the start of the damage as Vazquez’s uppercuts caused Simonyan to spit blood from his mouth for the remainder of the contest.
The power and accuracy of Vazquez was acutely evident in round three as he dropped Simonyan twice causing the Armenian to take the necessary 8 count. Both of Vazquez’s hands hit homeruns as they smashed Simonyan’s face into near oblivion. The end of the round was Simonyan’s only defense at this point.
In between rounds, Simonyan’s corner implored their fighter to hang on and buy time. Strangely enough, it was Vazquez who gave Simonyan an unintentional respite. A torn left glove of Vazquez needed to be replaced which gave Simonyan (14-1-1, 7 KOs) an extra four minutes to recover from the previous barrage he had swallowed.
With the new gloves firmly in place, Vazquez continued to dominate the action. Another crisp right hand by Vazquez wilted the Armenian in the corner like a stale Christmas poinsettia. Simonyan took the eight count again but was extremely glassy-eyed as the bout was allowed to continue.
Twelve seconds later, referee Dr. James Jen Kin called a halt to the contest at: 59 seconds of the fifth round as Vazquez’s shots went unanswered.
“This was an excellent fight for Vazquez,” said Frank Espinoza Vazquez’s manager.
“I am looking for tougher fights,” said Vazquez. “I would love to fight Oscar (Larios) again. We have fought twice, each of us with a win. I think that we should fight, I am always looking for harder fights.”
With the win, Vazquez retained his IBF featherweight title and has earned a well deserved rest. Vazquez said that he would like to fight next in the spring.
In other action, it was just a plain crazy night. Six four round fights went off with only two those going the distance.
Francisco Maldonado (7-17-4, 1 KO) of Guadalajara, Mexico and Mauricio Borquez (12-16-4, 10 KOs) of Culican, Mexico slugged it for four rounds in a left hook contest. The two welterweights entertained the crowd with Maldonado coming away with the unanimous decision.
In the heavyweights, Shawn Ross of Murrietta (1-1) ended Bernard Gray’s unblemished record with a devastating right hand lead that sent Gray to the canvass and out of the unbeaten ranks. The end came at: 32 seconds of the third round. Gray of Oakland literally fell to (1-1).
Slick Eddie Mapula of Tijuana, Baja CA, Mexico completely outclassed his junior welterweight dance partner, Hector Rivera of Michoacan, Mexico as the referee Raul Caiz Jr. put a stop to the bout in between rounds 3 and 4. Mapula moves his record to a perfect five wins with no defeats and all five wins coming via the knockout route.
In a very strange match, Crystal Hoy of Las Vegas made Sara Huntman quit after only 32 seconds of the first round. There may have only been five punches thrown between the two as Huntman wanted nothing to with Hoy. Hoy improves to three wins without a defeat.
James Harling (0-2) of Las Vegas was knocked out with no time remaining in the opening frame by James Horton of Pamona in heavyweight action. Horton earned his first pro win and evens his mark at one.
Finally, the cruiserweights decided to beat the hell out of each other for four exciting rounds before taking the decision to the judges. Shane Johnston (0-0-1) of El Cajon and Moses Matovu (1-3-1) of Las Vegas staggered each other on numerous occasions and wowed the crowed with their lack of defensive skills. Neither man hit the canvass, but Johnston came within a mouse snot of stopping the contest in the second round. The wild slugfest saw both men reeling from looping punches and solid inside fighting. Matovu took the unanimous decision.
The Sycuan Casino is a very intimate venue to watch boxing. It is one of the best lighted auditoriums in the business. Every photographer thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the organizers of the event took the time put up excellent lighting. The four hundred plus in attendance could almost feel the sweat coming off of the fighters.