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Valero strikes in ‘Lightweight Lightning!’
Unbeaten Valero KOs Pitalua for vacant WBC belt

Ringside by Byron Spurlock and Jeff Zimmerman
Photos by Chris Cozzone /

Former WBA Jr. Lightweight Champion Edwin Valero didn’t waste any time Saturday night at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas, keeping his record perfect by dismantling Antonio Pitalua in the second round for the vacant WBC lightweight belt.

The scheduled 12-round championship fight topped off a heavy night of lightweight action televised on PPV and promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.

Valero not only made a statement with his destruction of Pitalua—who’d not lost a fight in nearly eight years—but staked his claim as the champ to beat at 135 pounds.

In the opening round Valero looked to initiate the action, throwing hard straight left hands that had Pitalua backing up. Pitalua wasn’t intimidated, but rather waited to see what the undefeated kayo artist brought to the table.

He found out in round two.

As the second round got underway it was all Valero, who was not only exploding all over Pitalua, but the boxing world, in general, with an attack that could only compared to Manny Pacquiao.

With the first knockdown coming from a right hand from Valero, it was clear that this was not going to be the last one for the night, much less the round.

The second knockdown came from the overwhelming volume of punches as Valero threw power shot after power shot from every direction, putting Pitalua down again.

Referee Lawrence Cole would later step in to stop the action as Pitalua would make it to his feet for the standing eight count, but not before Valero would initiate the onslaught once again, flooring Pitalua a third and final time.

This time, Ref Cole stopped the bout, official time :49.

With the win, Valero improves to 25-0, 25 KOs.

Pitalua, suffering his first loss since 2001, falls to 46-4, 40 KOs.

After the fight, Valero called out Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao.

Katsidis too much for Chavez

Hometown favorite and former super featherweight champion, Jesus Chavez (44-5, 30 KOs) put up a gallant effort against the younger, unorthodox, former WBO Interim Lightweight Champion Michael Katsidis (25-2, 20 KOs) but came up short by failing to come out for the eighth round of a scheduled ten-rounder.

Katsidis was too strong for Chavez, who suffered a deep cut above his forehead midway through the fight from an apparent headbutt. With blood pouring down his face and splashing those ringside every time Katsidis landed, it seemed only a matter of time before the bout might end.

When Referee Jon Schorle went to check on Chavez prior to the eighth round, he was notified by Chavez and his corner that he was done for the night.

The fight was halted.

Katsidis’ continuous assault and sheer strength was too much for the more methodical former champion as he imposed his will on Chavez, landing two shots for every one of Chavez’s.

Chavez did show glimpses of making this a fight when he came out in the fifth round with three straight overhand rights to the head of Katsidis. The crowd erupted with each one as they began their pro-Chavez chants which appeared on and off again throughout the fight.

Chavez also showed some good work to the body at times, but Katsidis would muscle Chavez to the ropes each time and unload combinations that Chavez had no answer for.

This was a crossroads fight for both fighters, with one trying to keep his career alive. For Chavez, it was a last chance for another title shot. For Katsidis, it paved the way for bigger fights, bigger paydays in the talent-rich lightweight division.

In the end, it was Katsidis who proved he was ready for the next stage of his career while we may have seen the end of the respected Chavez who gave his adopted hometown of Austin, Texas a great effort, even in defeat.

–Jeff Zimmerman

Escobedo decisions Hernandez in 10

In a ten-round lightweight action, pitting rising star against spiraling veteran, Vicente Escobedo took on former champ Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez in a blazing, back-and-forth battle.

Hernandez looked to use his size and experience in the bout. As the opening bell rang he immediately rushed Vicente, but was getting hit while doing it.

Vicente looked to use some counter punching as he landed the more accurate convincing shots in the first round. Vicente even looked comfortable against the ropes, keeping his composure against the overpunching Hernandez.

Late in the round, Hernandez went down from a right hand that landed flush on the chin of Hernandez. ‘Famoso’ beat the count and appeared to be fine, signaling to his wife, Vernonica, at ringside, that he was okay.

But things didn’t change much in the second round, and Hernandez rushed Escobedo again at the sound of the bell. Once again, another overhand right sent Hernandez to the canvas.

Showing he was clearly there to fight, Hernandez showed his tremendous heart and will by fighting his way back into the fight, second knockdown or not.

The third round was clearly the best round of the fight as the 38-year-old Hernandez began to connect with a few of his shots, appearing to put Escobedo in trouble, at times. The youngster came right back, throwing telling combinations of his own that wobbled Hernandez. The crowd rose to their feet at the end of the round as both fighters engaged, having fought the majority of the round in the middle of the ring.

In the middle rounds, both fighters begin to look a little tired and gassed from the sure energy that had been put out in the ring. By the mid rounds, however, it looked as if Hernandez was battling his way back into the fight.

In round six, Escobedo proved himself to be the more accurate and effective puncher but Hernandez was determined to impose his will unto the fight. Referee Ruben Carrion ruled a knockdown on Escobedo when his attention was taken away for a split second. The referee looked to time keeper and it was indicated that a knockdown had occurred when, in actuality, what was displayed on the replay screen was Hernandez’s left foot stepping on the right foot of Escobedo and, at the same time, delivering what appeared to be a punch. To the crowd’s dismay, Escobedo was given a standing eight count and Hernandez was back into the fight with a two-point round.

The remaining rounds had both fighters having moments, each delivering power shots that appeared to hurt the other. Hernandez was continually outboxed but was determined to will his way through this fight, while Escobedo continued to deliver the more accurate crisper shots. 

With the tenth and final round beginning, both fighters touched gloves, but then embraced with a hug in the middle of the ring—they preceded to battle it out for the remaining three minutes, leaving nothing in the ring.

At the end of ten, the scorecards swung in Escobedo’s favor, 96-91, 94-93 and 95-91.

Escobedo rises to 20-1, 12 KOs, while Hernandez falls to 43-8-1, 24 KOs.–Byron Spurlock

Reyes upsets Diaz

Looking to get back to a title shot, former IBF Lightweight Champion Julio Diaz found himself several stops back when opponent Rolando Reyes scored the biggest upset of the night.

Both fighters started out slow in the opening rounds with Reyes looking to be the counter attacker early. It could’ve been the long delay starting the bout – both fighters stood in the ring nearly ten minutes – but Diaz looked to be flat with his punches and just pushed at Reyes. 

With former champion Diaz not looking his best on this particular night, Reyes took advantage as he slipped in punches that appeared to blindside Diaz to the head repeatedly. Diaz was then rocked by a right hand that would eventually sent him down to the canvas.

Diaz beat the count but was rocked again, this time with a left uppercut against the ropes. The former champ, legs unsteady beneath him, was in deep trouble. Reyes followed up with a right uppercut that all but had Diaz out on his feet.

Putting together a combination of power shots, Reyes finished up Diaz and Referee Gregorio Alvarez had no choice but to call a stop to the fight 2:17 into round five, by TKO.

Reyes improves his record to 31-4-2, 20 KOs, while Diaz falls to 36-5, 26 KOs. –Byron Spurlock

Broner TKOs Rodriguez in 4

In lightweight action, Adrien Broner knew he had the advantage in this fight soon after the opening bell, hitting opponent Angel Rodriguez at will and slipping his foe’s punches.

After Broner used the first round to warm up, the only question then was, what round the knockout would come in.

Rodriguez was knocked down in the third round and looked out of it, but, amazingly, managed to get to his feet and finish the round looking exhausted.  Broner took care of business early in the fourth round by not sitting on Rodriguez, delivering power shots to the head and body. Referee John Shurly called a stop to the fight 27 seconds into the round, improving Broner to 8-0, 6 KOs.

Rodriguez falls to 3-2, 1. –Byron Spurlock

Thurman-Garcia no-contest

In jr. middleweight action, Keith Thurman (8-0-1, 8 KOs) landed power shot after power shot tonight against a game Francisco Garcia (5-2-1, 4 KOs), and was on the verge of a KO win when the fight was ruled a no-contest.

An accidental head clash between the two caused a stoppage in the fight and referee Rueben Carion called the ring doctor Lyle Cohen to analyze a deep gash in Garcia’s forehead. Excessive bleeding called for a halt and the bout was ruled a no-contest. –Byron Spurlock

Castillo defeats Ledesma

Veteran Ricardo Castillo (37-7, 25 KOs), brother to former champ Jose Luis Castillo, withstood a first round knockdown to edge his way to a decision win over Andres Ledesma (15-13-1, 10 KOs).

In the first, Ledesma landed a left hook that floored Castillo. Surviving the round, he fought his way back, stalking Ledesma throughout the fight. Ledesma was still able to keep the fight close with some nice combinations while on the run.  In the end, Castillo had too much for Ledesma as he appeared to be tiring as the fight wore on.

After eight, scores were 78-73, 76-75, 76-75 for Castillo. –Jeff Zimmerman

Lopez survives knockdown, defeats Ramirez

Featherweights Ricky Lopez (3-0 2 KOs) and Felipe Ramirez (0-3) came out firing from the opening bell in a four-round barnburner.

Within seconds of the opening bell, Ramirez sent Lopez to the canvas with a straight left. The rest of the round saw both fighters unleash bombs on each other as neither fighter backed down. In a close battle, Lopez won a split decision with 38-37 on two judges scorecard and a surprising 39-36 for Ramirez on the other. –Jeff Zimmerman

Charlo edges Garcia

It what appeared to be much closer bout than the final score indicated, Jermell Charlo (7-0 3 KOs) won a six-round unanimous decision over Carlos Garcia (3-3-1 3 KOs). Both fighters seemed reluctant to let their hands go, but Charlo seemed to have a little more ring generalship and won a fairly easy decision on the judge’s scorecard, 60-54 and 59-55 on the other two. Veteran referee, Jon Schorle, was the third man in the ring. –Jeff Zimmerman

Bazille loses debut

Kicking off “Lightweight Lightning” in a four-rounder between junior middleweights, Malik Bazille lost his pro debut to Juan DeLeon (1-1).  DeLeon proved to be the aggressor throughout the fight and escaped with a majority decision over the inexperienced Bazille who took several hard shots in the last couple of rounds. Even with the legendary Bernard Hopkins coaching Bazille from ringside, it wasn’t enough to muster a victory in his pro debut. The final scores read 39-37 twice and 38-38 on the third. –Jeff Zimmerman

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