By: Robert Aaron Contreras
For a bill built around California’s best and brightest prospects, the gray sky and heavy clouds lingered over the outdoor venue holding the latest edition of Showtime’s ShoBox series. But while the rain subsided, thunderclaps came from the ring.
Ruben Villa (16-0, 5 KO) def. Luis Alberto Lopez (17-2, 8 KO) by unanimous decision
Featherweight upstart Ruben Villa had a puzzling brawler in front of him Friday night. But solving puzzles is what this technician is best at, picking Lopez apart en route to a unanimous-decision victory at the Omega Products International in Corona, California.
The scorecards surprised the ShoBox commentary team, who could only find one round (the tenth) to give to the visiting Mexican. Lopez came out swinging—awkwardly—and refused to back down. But Villa, armed with a sharp jab and supremely accurate punches, got the job done, winning 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94 to set himself up for another step up in competition.
A converted southpaw, Villa popped Lopez in the face consistently with a pretty jab. Lopez did him a favor and provided a big target, walking in with interchanging rights and lefts, sticking his chin directly in the air—an odd sight to behold, with strange quirks like when Lopez threw a right hand, his back right leg would fly out.
Lopez’s awkward charges upset Villa’s rhythm in the second round. The house fighter was forced to mix up his punches, opting to change levels and throw body hooks.
The visiting Mexican banger chased Villa around over the next three rounds. His footwork resembled an amateur but his punch resistance was as professional as it gets as Villa’s sharpshooting and counters raked up round after round. At least so it seemed.
Frustration set in for Lopez by Round 5, throwing a punch after the bell. And he was grappling in the eighth stanza.
A consistent stream of punches continued from Villa, who didn’t throw the same punch two times in a row: sticking out a picture-perfect jab, slapping a right hook off the top of his opponent’s head, circling out and away from Lopez after ripping a left hook to the body.
Lopez’s wild charges grew more and more irregular. In Round 9, Villa took advantage of his sputtering opponent and split his guard with a volley of straight left hands.
Lopez dug deep for the final three minutes. Reckless punches careened into Villa who returned fire at a lower rate, and a sharp contrast emerged between a beautiful boxer and a hideous one. But in this sport, it doesn’t matter how those punches look traveling to their destination just if they get there—and how hard.
The ringside panel seemed to value Lopez’s singular strikes more than anybody else in the building or at home. Of course not enough to take away the night from Villa. And rightly so. This one belonged to him.
The ShoStats painted a clear picture. Villa landed 220 of 591 total punches (37 percent) and 95 of 207 power punches (46 percent) while Lopez connected on 142 of 799 total punches and just 80 of 472 power shots (17 percent).
Michael Dutchover (13-0. 10 KO) def. Rosekie Cristobal (15-3, 11 KO) by first-round knockout
Considering his opponent took the fight on three-days notice, Dutchover didn’t have much time to prepare for Cristobal. But it didn’t take very long to end his man’s night either, finishing the visiting Filipino inside of one round. So quickly in fact the ShoBox telecast literally replayed the entire fight as the commentary team provided analysis.
Cristobal, 24, opened the contest with an almost cartoonish, winging right hand—it never came close. He never stood a chance. Soon after a right-left combination from Dutchover, ending in a left hook to the liver, put him on his knees where referee Zachary Young counted him out.
The finish extended Dutchover’s knockout streak to five.
Saul Sanchez (12-0, 7 KO) def. Brandon Benitez (14-2, 6 KO) by eighth-round knockout
War paint flowing from his nose, and likely down on the cards, Sanchez waded into his opponent with punches toward the end of the fourth round. Both hands oscillating, a right hand found its mark and buckled the knees of Benitez. The fight was belonged to Sanchez from there.
Sanchez, 21, commanded the center of the ring throughout the bantamweight contest. Benitez, 21, was there to meet him, quickly clubbing at the three-to-one betting favorite with both hands. A left hook to the midsection of Benitez induced a grimace from the Mexican fighter. And another counter left hand secured the opening period for Sanchez.
The rest of the way, however, began to fall in Benitez’s favor. He showered his opponent with punches in the second round. And continued to beat the blue-chip prospect to the punch to also steal Round 3.
Sanchez ignored the advice from his trainer Joel Diaz to open the fourth period and chased Benitez around while. Hurling big, winding blows, headhunting, Sanchez racked up more points pots hotting. But the agressopn paid dividends with 15 seconds to go and a right hand whizzed across Benitez’s chin. The Mexican’s knees instantly buckled and Sanchez smelled blood..
Still circling away from Sanchez, Benitez slowed down in the fifth-period. And by Round 7, his legs were gone. Stuck in the pocket with Sanchez, the California-born slugger abused his man’s midsection audible blows to the ribcage finally got the crowd into the action.
A short exchange opened the eighth period but soon after another right from Sanchez crashed into Benitez’s chin and Raul Caiz Jr stepped between the two. It was over. And Sanchez was awarded the victory and the WBO Latino title.
According to ShoStats, Sanchez landed 145 of 403 total punches (36 percent) and 123 of 296 power shots (42 percent) while Benitez connected on 94 of 380 total punches (25 percent) and 78 of 270 power punches (29 percent).