By: William Holmes
ESPN Friday Night Fights had a special broadcast on a Thursday night instead of their regular Friday night time slot. Tonight’s broadcast took place from the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada and featured Andre Ward as a special guest analyst.
The first bout of the night was between Puerto Rican boxer Luis Cruz (20-1) and Mexican boxer Jose Felix Jr. (20-1) in the super featherweight division. The undefeated Felix Jr. has not fought the level of competition that Cruz has, and tonight was a major step up in competition for him.
Felix Jr., however, shined tonight and was clearly the quicker and better boxer. He used his superior movement and hand-speed to keep Cruz at bay and pot-shot him at will. He made his hand-speed known early in the fight with a lead left hook that momentarily stunned Cruz. Cruz was able to score a knockdown in the fourth round with a straight left hand, but Felix Jr. was not badly hurt from that punch. He came back out in the fifth round and continued to land his jab and left hook seemingly at will. Felix Jr.’s strongest round was in the sixth round when he visibly frustrated Cruz, who was unable to launch an effective offensive attack.
It was a close fight with good moments of action, but Felix Jr. deserved the victory and the scores were correctly announced in his favor with scores of 96-94, 96-94, and 97-92.
The main event was between the undefeated Jessie Vargas (19-0) and Aron Martinez (18-1-1) in the welterweight division. Martinez, who has never been past eight rounds, is seven years older than Vargas and at times it showed in the ring.
Martinez’s best round was in the first round, and he began to fade more and more each round after that. The fight got dirty at times: both fighters landed punches behind the head and Martinez got tagged with a possible low blow in the fourth round.
Vargas is a new signee of Top Rank Promotions, but he did not look overly impressive tonight. He won, and he beat a fighter who tried to make it dirty, but he was fighting an older fighter with little-to-no power. Vargas was able to do significant work when the fight was fought in tight quarters, and he was also able to land several lead right hands. Martinez had a mouse over his left eye, and was spitting up blood before the start of the seventh round.
The official scores were 99-91, 98-92, and 96-94 for the still undefeated Jessie Vargas.