By: Sean Crose
Jessie Vargas stepped into the ring at the Forum in Inglewood, California Friday night to face the veteran Humberto Soto in a junior middleweight bout scheduled for ten rounds. Soto, 69-9-2, came on strong from the opening bell. Vargas, 28-2-2, appeared ready to face his man head on. Soto went down from what was ruled a low blow towards the end of the first. Vargas found himself cut in the second. Soto, who was last seen besting Brandon Rios, was able to land effectively. The third saw good action in what was becoming an entertaining affair.
Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account
The high octane pace continued through the fourth. The same could be said for the fifth. “Speed and power,” Vargas trainer Freddie Roach told his man before the start of the sixth. Vargas clearly heeded the advice, for he dropped Soto with a right in the sixth. Soto beat the count, but Vargas continued to pile on the shots, so much so that the referee wisely stepped in and stopped the bout.
The following match saw the 21-0 IBF junior featherweight titlist TJ Doheny face off against the 26-2-1 WBA super bantamweight champion Danny Roman in a scheduled twelve round affair. The first round proved to be something of a feeling out process for both fighters. After pursuing his man for the better portion of the round, Roman was able to drop his man in the second. Doheny was able to get up and regain his composure. The third saw Roman able to dominate the tempo, albeit slightly. Doheny came alive at the end of the fourth, landing cleanly. Roman, however, continued to attack in the fifth. By the midpoint of the fight, Doheny’s face was showing the effects of swelling, but he remained competitive.
Doheny hurt and consistently unloaded on his man in the seventh. Roman went down, though it was ruled a toss down, then got up and fought back hard. Still, the round belonged to a very aggressive Doheny. Roman may have managed to win the eighth. The two men exchanged furiously in the ninth. Doheny looked completely battered in the 10th.
A thunderous body shot took Doheny down in the 11th. Doheny got up, but the fight should have been stopped by the man’s corner. Still, there was no denying Doheny’s courage. His grit was magnificent. The twelfth was, like the rest of the fight, very close. It was a magnificent match. Roman walked away with the majority decision win. Two of the scores were needlessly wide – but the win for Roman was well deserved.
It was time for the main event. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, 47-4-1, stepped into the ring to defend his WBC junior bantamweight title against the 38-3 Juan Francisco Estrada in a rematch of their highly – and deservedly – lauded 2018 match. Sor Rungvisai earned the decision nod after the first bout. Now, in the exact same arena, Estrada was getting a second chance.
A highly aggressive Estrada took the first. Estrada continued his aggression in the second – but Sor Rungvisai started coming alive, as well. The third saw Estrada continue to make the bout a high energy scrap. In the fourth, Sor Rungvisai, perhaps tired of getting landed on by his foe, switched to the southpaw stance. Estrada landed cleanly and regularly with straight shots in the fifth. By the end of the sixth, it was clear that Estrada had a plan and was executing it to near perfection. It was as simple as that.
The seventh saw Estrada continue to dominate. By the eighth, the fight had essentially settled into a pattern, with Sor Rungvisia looking outgunned while Estrada carried out an energetic, disciplined performance. In the ninth, Estrada continued to showcase his sharp shooting skills. Sor Rungvisai came alive in the tenth. Estrada went down from an accidental low blow. Things got quite exciting and competitive in the eleventh. The twelfth was close, but it certainly seemed like Estrada had a decision in the bag…which he did. All three judges ruled in his favor, giving Estrada the WBC junior bantamweight belt.