by Sean Crose
In front of a thin crowd at California’s StubHub Center, Premiere Boxing Champions began a Saturday broadcast on NBC at noon, Pacific Time. First up was a match of undefeated heavies as native Californian Dominic Breazeale (14-0, 13 KOs) faced Cuban slugger Yasmany Consuegra (17-0, 14 KOs). While it was true that Breazeale was a very tall heavyweight, he was shaped more like Tyson Fury than Wladimir Klitschko. Yet he was still able to drop Consuegra in the second – and again in the third.
After the second knowdown, Brezeale stepped forward and dropped his foe for the third and final time. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth wisely stopped the fight at 1:49 of that chapter.
The second scrap of the afternoon featured Robert Guerrero (32-3, 18 KOs) facing off against the lightly regarded Aron Martinez (19-3-1, 4KOs) in the main event. Ray Leonard, who was part of PBCs broadcast team, was refreshingly honest when he made it clear that Martinez was there to be an opponent, so that the odds were truly stacked against him.
Guerrero started off slow, which was no surprise, since that was the man’s MO. Having said that, though, it seemed clear by Guerrero’s demeanor that he viewed the bout as a tuneup. He betrayed no sense of urgency and came across as being calmly confident.
Still, Martinez was aggressive throughout the second. Guerrero may not have viewed him as much of a threat, but Martinez was clearly taking the fight seriously. Still, no one, NO ONE expected what happened at the end of the fourth.
For Guerrero went down. Martinez, a man with just four knockouts to his name, dropped a former Pay Per View opponent of Floyd Mayweather through sheer attrition. Guerrero survived the round, but was nailed again at the beginning of the fifth.
Guerrero recuperated, however, and was able to assert himself in sixth. Still, Matinez kept taking it to Guerrero throughout the seventh. Regardless, by the end of the eighth, Guerrero’s professionalism and experience was taking over. He wasn’t able to run away with the fight, though.
Indeed, PBC’s Steve Farhood had the bout even walking into the tenth and final round. Guerrero came on strong, but Martinez kept moving forward, holding and putting up a tough fight. Needless to say, the two men ended the fight throwing punches.
Guerrero ended up winning a rather odd split decision as one of the judges granted him a strange 97-92 nod. The crowd booed at the call. What’s more, their booing continued on through Guerrero’s post fight interview. “At the least, it could have been a draw,” Ray Leonard said later. “At the very least.”
The next bout, which was switched to NBC Sports Network from NBCs flagship channel, featured featherweights Jesus Cuellar (26-1, 20 KOs) and old pro Vic Darchinyan (40-7-1 29KOs). The battle was declared a 12 rounder for the “Featherweight Title,” although it was specifically for the WBA World Featherweight title (PBC plays by its own rules).
The first quarter of the bout was close. Arguably, neither man took the lead. Cuellar was clipped hard in the fourth, however, which made it clear the man who called himself “RagingBull” was not the has-been some may have argued he was beforehand (Darchinyan was nearly 40).
Cuellar appeared to hold a close – perhaps a very close – lead in the middle rounds. It still could have been anyone’s fight – but Darchinyan was dropped by a thunderous right in the eighth. Darchinyan’s corner tried to stop the bout, but referee Tom Taylor didn’t notice, focused as he was on the fighters.
Still, it seemed Taylor was able to see for personally that all was lost for Darchinyan, for he stopped the fight himself a few seconds later.
Alfredo Angulo (22-5, 18 KOs) tried to get his career back on track afterward as he faced Delray Rains (20-10-1, 14 KOs) in a ten round middleweight showdown. Strangely enough, Angullo livened the crowd, even though he appeared well after the main event.
Although Rains wasn’t there to be walked over, Angullo effectively attacked. By the fourth, he literally punched Rains down to his knees. Rains, however, got up at the eight count and was able to end the round on his feet.
Still, Rains was sent to his knees again in the fifth. He gamely got up and continued, but the man was seriously being outclassed. A single shot towards the end of the round sent Rains down yet again. Veteran ref Jack Reiss asked Rains if he wanted to continue – and Rains wisely said no at 2:16 of the round.
Alejandro Luno (17-0, 13 KOs) then had an eight round super lightweight bout against Cristobal Cruz (40-16-4, 24 KOs). Luna came out strong, with body shots and blows to the head. Cruz, at 38, battled gamely in the second, though, showing he wasn’t done yet. Still, Luna was working the body hard.
The third round was an all-out war. It may not have been close to the main event, but the bout was exciting. Still, Farhood was right when he claimed during the fifth that “Luna’s just too big.” For by then the bout had fallen into a steady pattern. There was plenty of action, but Luna was the dominant force.
Credit needed to be given to Cruz. He never, not for a second, stopped fighting. Here was a potent vet who knew his way around the ring and who knew how to give an up and comer like Luna a run. Indeed, Cruz spent the bout going for broke, especially in the final round.
Yet it wasn’t enough. Luma took a well-earned unanimous decision win.
Post fight quotes:
“Aron Martinez came to fight and the fans got to see two warriors go at it.
“I can’t explain why I go to war so much. I just love to get in there and mix it up.
“When I got up off the canvas, I told myself…get up and win this fight.
“Once I started boxing I felt I started dominating the fight.
“We got the victory and now it’s time to move on to some big fights and give the fans the warrior type fights they deserve. I’m an action fighter and I’ll continue to be so.
“There is something about this arena that makes you want to stand there and trade.
“I just suffered the loss of my cousin. She passed away last week and this fight was for her.”
“I’m very happy with my performance. I thought I won the fight.
“I thought the third scorecard was way out of line.
“It was a great experience fighting on NBC. I wanted to put on a great fight for the fans and me and Robert did that.
“I look forward to being more active and fighting again as soon as possible.”