Buenos Noches, Monterrey
Nishioka puts out Gonzalez in title defense; Marquez stages return
Ringside report and photos by Chris Cozzone / Fightwireimages.com
One colossal punch, thrown with all the might of the Land of the Rising Sun, was enough to defeat, both, a former champion and a country, last night at the Arena Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico.
Defending his WBC super bantamweight title on foreign turf, the Japanese champion, Toshiaki Nishioka, had no need of three Americano judges and ref in scoring the biggest win of his career—knocking out ex-bantam champ Jhonny Gonzalez, of Mexico City, in front of 12,523 suddenly-silent Mexicans.
It was a line drive from left field from the southpaw champ that scored boxing’s equivalent of a grand slam, silencing bookies who rated Nishioka a three-to-one underdog while obliterating the dreams of the Mexican challenger who had high hopes, someday, of achieving the status of gran campeon.
Gonzalez, hoping to become a two-division champ who would break the quarter-million dollar mark in his next fight by targeting the marquee names at super bantam, suffered the most devastating loss of his career – a loss made worse because victory was one punch away.
Promoted by Promociones del Pueblo and televised throughout Mexico on TV Azteca, the main event capped a scheduled 82-round, 10-bout card that also saw the successful return of Rafael Marquez.
While proving himself a worthy foe for any other 122-pound champion, if not an Israel Vazquez or Marquez, Nishioka backed up his claim, last night, that he would be taking his belt back to Japan. At the same time, he put on a performance that not only mirrored Manny Pacquiao’s recent kayo of Ricky Hatton, but brought to mind the Filipino’s long string of East-conquers-West victories.
Nishioka appeared nervous at the weigh-in, and before the first round, while Gonzalez, who predicted a kayo win before the fourth, was noticeably confident.
But appearances can be deceiving.
At the opening clang, the southpaw champion went right at Gonzalez, jabbing and looking for a left hand opening. The challenger was tentative, but as the round progressed, he warmed up with a solid left hook to the body.
Then, with 20 seconds left on the clock, Gonzalez let loose with a straight right hand that floored the Japanese champ in the neutral corner. As the crowd cheered, “JHONN-EEE! JHON-EEE!”, Nishioka got up at six, somewhat shaken, but weathered the remainder of the round.
Gonzalez fought the second round like a victory was one punch away, like he only had to find the right moment – the right opening – to snag his coveted green belt. Though spurred on by the knockdown, and a chanting crowd, Gonzalez showed patience.
The two danced around the center of the ring, both jabbing, Gonzalez looking for a repeat performance with his right and Nishioka, trying to set up his left. With the champion edging most of the round, Gonzalez sprung into action at the tail end, landing a big right that drove Nishioka into his corner as the bell rang.
Picking up the pace and nearing what was assumed to be his knockout win, Gonzalez tore into Nishioka as the third round began. The champ, however, started to land a speedy straight left hand.
Then it happened.
One moment the crowd was chanting the name of their Mexican would-be champion; the next, they were as floored as their hero when a straight left hand snaked through the air to bite the challenger.
Gonzalez hit the canvas like a flat, iron anvil, horizontal and out.
For a second, Nishioka stood there, as stunned as Gonzalez, while the only sound in the arena was a faint buzzing of moths who were flying in and out of the lights above.
Nishioka sprang into action, running toward the neutral corner, just as Referee Kenny Bayliss, crouched alongside Gonzalez, began his count – a count that woke up the challenger. At eight, Gonzalez struggled to clear his head and get his legs beneath him, but the attempt was futile.
Ref Bayliss waved it off at 1:20.
Bellowing his victory cry, Nishioka was raised skyward by his cornermen. While the still-champion pumped his gloves into the air, following this impossible win, the fallen ex-campeon challenger was consoled, all thoughts of big money fights, Israel Vazquez, Rafael Marquez, snatched away with a single left hand.
“I did not think about losing in the first round when Jhonny hurt me,” said Nishioka. “He hurt me, but I was conscious.
“From the moment I threw the knockout punch, I knew he would not get up. I am very happy with the victory, and to have defeated another Mexican.”
Nishioka proves himself a worthy champion, rising to 34-4-3, 21 KOs.
Gonzalez ends a six-fight win streak with the severe setback, falling to 40-7, 34 KOs.
“I am saddened by the reversal of the fight,” said Gonzalez.
“But I will continue on and will keep going in order to win another world title.”
With his brother, Juan Manuel buzzing all around the globe, from Las Vegas to L.A., New York to London, hyping his July mega-fight date Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Rafael Marquez made a relatively quiet comeback last night in the ten-round, featherweight co-main event.
Ending a 14-month layoff following the classic trilogy with Israel Vazquez, Marquez paved the way for a fourth war, or another big money fight, by shaking off a bit of rust before knocking out Colombian Jose Francisco “Pegono” Mendoza in three.
Round one was a cautious one, with Marquez pressing the action though Mendoza proving game. Both jabbed while Marquez reached with his right.
Seeing a rusty Marquez brought out the gameness in Mendoza in the second. Fighting entirely in the middle of the ring. Mendoza landed several rights on Marquez, who came up short with anything but a jab.
Mendoza’s counterpunching and lead rights continued to show an out-of-form Marquez-that is, until a big right hand finally connected, staggering the Colombian. Marquez closed the gap on his wounded prey and, trapping Mendoza against the ropes, battered him with a combination that sent him to the canvas.
As Marquez walked to the neutral corner, Referee Carlos Garcia halted the action, official time 2:20.
“I started throwing my blows in the third round after I knew what the Colombian brought to the ring,” said Marquez.
“I am now ready to fight the best fighters in the world.”
Marquez, now 38-5, 34 KOs, said earlier in the week that he was targeting a fourth fight with Israel Vazquez.
Mendoza falls to 21-3-2, 17 KOs.
‘Zorro’ doesn’t find mark, but wins decision
Ending a 45-minute intermission due to several early knockouts on the undercard, lightweight Javier “Zorro” Castro (20-2, 16 KOs), of Juarez and El Paso, had to sweat through eight rounds with cagey Guadalupe Rosales (28-5, 16 KOs), of Monterrey, for a unanimous decision.
While Castro pressured, seeking to land a big right, Rosales fought in spurts, unloading at just the right times and making it a dead even fight going into the fifth.
Castro pulled ahead in the second half of the fight, though he was unable to hurt Rosales at any time. Left hooks marked the fifth for Castro. The sixth was close, the seventh, slow, and the eighth, edged by Rosales.
Scorecards read 77-76, and 78-74 twice, for Castro.
Figtnews had it 77-75, Castro.
‘Murder Man’ too sharp for ‘Vibora’
In a 10-rounder for the WBC Fecombox welter title, champion Michael “Murder Man” Medina (19-1, 12 KOs), of Monterrey, proved too big, too sharp, too strong, for Juarez's Bladimir Hernandez (15-1, 13 KOs), who lasted but two rounds.
Medina went at Hernandez early but the Juarez banger not only took the Monterrey “Murder Man’s” punches, but fired back with a hook that momentarily stunned the beltholder.
Medina took his time launching a second assault, but when he did, it was over.
After several crowd-pleasing displays, the bigger punches of Medina got the best of Hernandez, and he crumpled to the canvas in the neutral corner. He was up at eight, but wobbly enough for the ref to stop the action at 1:20.
“Acertijo” no mystery for Salgado
In an eight-round featherweight bout, Juarez’s Angel “Acertijo” Reyna (9-2-1, 4 KOs) lasted but half a around against Mexico City’s Juan Carlos Salgado (20-1, 14 KOs).
After a first cautious minute, Salgado landed a straight right to Reyna’s heart that momentarily stunned his foe. Reyna countered with trick lefthand counters until Salgado opened up again. Landing another hard shot on the torso, Reyna slumped to one knee where he was counted out.
“El Nene” battles Nene-sized foe for decision
Frustrated through ten rounds of his WBC Fecombox super flyweight title defense, Chihuahuan Victor Zaleta (9-1, 5 KOs) had to settle for a decision win over hobbit-sized Javier Romano (8-3, 2 KOs), of Veracruz.
Irking the much-taller Zaleta with his size and awkward overhand counters, Romano proved a difficult target for the ever-pressuring Chihuahuan. Round five saw the best action from Zaleta, but even his hardest, cleanest punches were countered consistently by Romano’s unorthodox left hooks.
Switching to the body only had Zaleta hitting lower than he wanted. He was warned in the seventh for a low blow, with a minute-and-a-half time-out given Romano to recover. Then, in the eighth, another shot ruled low – it looked like a clean belly shot, however – zapped Zaleta of a point. With Zaleta languishing on the ropes for most of the round, it gave Romano a 10-8 round.
In the last two rounds, Zaleta tried to drop a bomb on Romano below – without landing going too low, that is – but it couldn’t be done. Romano cruised his way defensively through the tenth, weathering a bloody mouth in the last 30 seconds.
Scores were 99-90 twice, and 96-93, all for Zaleta.
Escobedo kayos Garcia in three
In a ten-rounder at superbantamweight, Mexico City’s Eduardo “Caniggia” Escobedo (25-3, 17 KOs) of Mexico City, took out Monterrey’s Jesus Garcia (13-13-2, 4 KOs) in less than three rounds.
Garcia was outgeneraled with a jab in the first, outpunched with rights in the second, and finished with a right-left combo in the third.
Garcia was counted out at 2:20.
Olivo outworks Tavera
In the curtain raiser, Monterrey cruiserweight Pablo Olivo (2-0) outhustled slow-moving debuter Miguel Angel Tavera of Mexico City over four uneventful rounds.
Sporting a shaved chest—but for a hairy crucifix—Tavera had his best moments in the third, but Olivo proved too crafty for him. Tavera did little but plod forward and eat loopy right hands.
Judges scored it 40-36 and 39-37 twice.
Romero kayos Hernandez
In a fast, four-round bout between Monterrey welter debuters, zippy Jesus Romero (1-0, 1 KO) took out game Guadalupe Hernandez (0-1) in the first minute of round two.
Hernandez pressured and Romero countered. In the last minute of the first, a left hook dropped Hernandez. That same left floored Hernandez in the second—and, then again, for the count.
Lozano takes out Villanueva
In a four-round welter bout, Mario Alberto Lozano (6-1, 5 KOs) of Chihuahua, TKO’d
Antonio Villanueva (4-5, 2 KOs) of Tampico, at 2:22 of round two.
Though Villanueva proved to be an elusive counterpuncher, he wasn’t elusive enough. The Tampico foe went down from a right/left combo in the first and twice in the third before the ref stopped the slaughter.
Mexican greats Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr., Marco Antonio Barrera, Cristian Mijares and Edgar Sosa were in attendance.
Boxing photographer Sumio Yamada put aside his camera before the main event to sing the Japanese national anthem.
The ten-rounder scheduled between Marco “Dorado” Reyes (11-0, 10 KOs), of Chihuahua, and Cristian Solano (22-16-4, 16 KOs), of Torreon, was nixed when Reyes fell ill.
Alejandro Barrera (9-0, 7 KOs), of Monterrey, also pulled out of his bout with Mexico City’s Johnny Navarrete (10-1-1, 7 KOs)