By: William Holmes
Madison Square Garden in New York City hosted tonight’s HBO Pay Per View card in what feels like the first Pay Per View in the East Coast in a very long time. Several Promotional companies collaborated for tonight’s card, including DiBella Entertainment, Top Rank, Sampson Boxing, Miguel Cotto Promotions, and Maravilla Martinez Promotions.
The opening bout of tonight’s card was a flyweight bout between the debuting Jantony Ortiz (0-0) and Elio Ruiz (1-4).
Both boxers came out in an orthodox stance with Ortiz being the slightly taller boxer. Ruiz caught Ortiz by surprise with a right hook, but Ortiz quickly settled down and began to pick Ruiz apart. A right cross from Ortiz hurt Ruiz badly and he began to turn his back towards Ortiz. Ortiz followed it up with a combination on Ruiz by the corner which forced Ruiz to take on knee.
Ruiz stayed on one knee while the referee counted to ten and the bout was immediately waived off. Jantony Ortiz wins by knockout at 1:50 of the first round.
The next bout of the night was between Darryl Cunningham (29-6) and Willie Nelson (21-1-1) in the middleweight division. Nelson is a prized prospect who’s career was momentarily halted due to injury. This was his first fight since June of last year.
Cunningham is an older veteran and twelve years older than Nelson. He was also giving up thirteen inches in reach and about four and a half inches in height.
Nelson immediately took the center of the ring in the first round and used his height and reach to his advantage. He rocked Cunningham early on with a jab that forced Cunningham to hold onto Nelson. Nelson later connected with a hard right uppercut, and followed that up with a combination that sent Cunningham to the mat. It looked like it could have possibly been ruled a push but the referee ruled it a knockdown.
Cunningham got back to his feet and attacked the body of Nelson, but Nelson stopped his attack with a crisp straight right. Nelson connected with a beautiful left hook right uppercut combination that sent Cunningham down again. Cunningham stayed on one knee and got up at the count of nine, but the referee stopped the fight after the ringside doctor took a look at Cunningham.
Willie Nelson returned with a quick TKO victory at 2:43 of round one.
Jose Pedraza (16-0) and Arturo Uruzquieta (15-5) met next in the lightweight division. Pedraza hails from Puerto Rico and had the support of the fans in attendance for the undercard.
Pedraza came out in the first hand working behind his jab, but soon went to work on Uruzquieta’s body. He delivered a left hook to the body followed by a straight right that had Uruzquieta hurt. Uruzquieta backed up to the corner and Pedraza continued his assault to the body and head of Uruzquieta. Uruzquieta was rocked by another straight right hand from Pedraza and was able to offer very little offense.
Pedraza wailed on Uruzquieta by the ropes and finally sent him down with a crushing right uppercut. The referee briefly checked on Uruzquieta and waived off the fight.
Jose Pedraza wins by TKO at 2:19 of the first round.
The final bout of the undercard was between Raul Hidalgo (21-10-0-1) and Jose Lopez (12-0) for the WBC Super Bantamweight FECARBOX Title.
Lopez is only twenty years old and came out in a “Wonderboy” superhero costume, and his costume was perhaps the most exciting moment of the bout. The crowd at MSG was strongly behind the Puerto Rican Jose Lopez.
Lopez came out in the first round patient, and was dictating the pace of the bout and was able to stay out of the range of Hidalgo. He ended the first round with a quick three punch combination, but it did not feature much action.
Lopez stayed sharp with his jab in the second round and was landing his counter left hook, but Hidalgo was doing a decent job at slipping the power shots of Lopez. Lopez’s left was landing, but his right hand was falling short of it’s target. Hidalgo at one point in the second switched to a southpaw stance, but he immediately went back to orthodox after eating a combination from Lopez.
Lopez continued to walk Hidalgo down in the third round and look very patient. Hidalgo was throwing one punch at a time while Lopez was throwing combinations. The fourth round was another dominating round by Lopez as he was touching Hidalgo at will while avoiding the shots from Hidalgo. Hidalgo did land his best punch of the night in the fourth round, a wide looping left hook.
Lopez continued to do a masterful job at moving in and out of the range of Hidalgo while pop shotting him, but the crowd started to boo the lack of action in the ring. Lopez stunned Hidalgo near the end of the sixth round with a two punch combination, but failed to knock him down.
Hidalgo needed a knockout by the final two rounds to win but failed to push the pace. Lopez won a wide decision with scores of 80-72, 80-72, and 79-73.
The final bout of the untelevised undercard was between Engelberto Valenzuela (9-1) and the heavily hyped Felix Verdejo (12-0) in the lightweight division. Verdejo was nine years younger and about five inches taller than Valenzuela.
Verdejo, like every other Puerto Rican on tonight’s card, had the support of the crowd in attendance, and he put on a quick and brutal performance.
Verdejo took the center of the ring in the first and pounded a three punch combination to the head of Valenzuela. Verdejo followed that up with a combination to the body of Valenzuela, and then rocked Valenzuela with a left hook. Verdejo connected with another combination that sent Valenzuela to the mat. The crowd roared loudly in approval as Verdejo jumped on Valenzuela when he got back to his feet and the referee had seen enough and waived off the fight.
Felix Verdejo wins by TKO at 1:17 of the first round.