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Donaire spanks Chango
Short nightcaps on marathon card see Donaire, Montiel putting foes to bed early

Ringside report and photos by Chris Cozzone

If you blinked, you might’ve missed the shot that 115-pound lord of the ring Nonito Donaire used to send his hobbit-sized foe to the canvas for the ten-count.

If you blinked during Fernando Montiel’s WBO bantam title gain, you might’ve missed the fight altogether.

With Manny Pacquiao and fallen fighter Z Gorres watching on, Donaire and Montiel topped off the ten-bout, scheduled 80-round “Latin Fury-Pinoy Power” hybrid at the Las Vegas Hilton last night, bottoming out their opponents with quick wins.

The card, promoted by Top Rank and televised on Pay-Per-View, left a tie score for Pinoys and Latins. In the opening TV bouts, Filipino Bernabe Concepcion outpointed Puerto Rico’s Mario Santiago while Puerto Rico’s Eric Morel edged Filipino Gerry Penalosa – both bouts going the distance in close encounters.

There was nothing lengthy in the main and co-main, however, unless you were talking about the time spent on the canvas by Donaire and Montiel’s victims.

With a long list of super showdowns looming, Donaire shortened his scheduled 12-rounder with a relatively short fight against short notice sub, short Manuel “Chango” Vargas.

Taking the fight on three days notice, after original opponent Gerson Guerrero was nixed for a bum optic, Vargas’ journey from Jalisco, Mexico proved less of a trek than did his sudden, supersonic leap from minimumweight, three divisions north to super flyweight. Vargas’ sudden rise in weight was nearly as rapid as his fall to the canvas, courtesy of a flashy left hook by the “Filipino Flash.”

Donaire took his time in the first two rounds, figuring out his foe.

There wasn’t much to figure out. Other than a wild overhand right or two, Vargas, short on more than just reach and height, was going nowhere but down. A left hook rattled the Mexican in the first and, in the second, he was fed several right hands by the patiently stalking Donaire.

In the third, Donaire made a monkey out of “Chango”, dropping the poor, overmatched challenger to the canvas with a left hook. Referee Joe Cortez counted Vargas out at 1:33.

“I figured him out early,” said Donaire, rising to 23-1, 15 KOs. “It was just a matter of not getting careless, and relaxing.”

Donaire did say he got caught with one good punch by Vargas, but that it was “in the butt.”

Vargas, losing two straight now and dropping to 26-5-1, 11 KOs, will, no doubt, journey back to minimumweight.

Donaire is looking to clean up at super flyweight, hopefully against Vic Darchinyan in a rematch, and Jorge Arce, before moving up to a possible showdown with Fernando Montiel at bantam.

Ciso desist

In the 12-round co-main, Fernando “Cochulito” Montiel, of Los Mochis, Mexico, showed the Filipino-favoring fans that he still has it, by folding his formerly-undefeated Pinoy foe to the floor with a ripping body shot.

Though undefeated, Ciso “Kid Terrible” Morales was largely untested before getting his shot at the pound-for-pound powerhouse Montiel, his minor Oriental belts somehow tiptoeing his name into contention.

Montiel, however, sent Morales back into the minor leagues for a season or two. Countering off his opponent’s jab, Montiel backed Morales against the ropes, then hurled a hook downstairs, a right up top, and, for a grand finale, finished the Filipino with a solar plexus hook that dropped Morales to the floor for the ten-count, and then some.

Clutching his battered bread basket, Morales was counted out by referee Robert Byrd at 2:06.

“I knew I had to get inside of his long jab,” said Montiel. “When I did that, I hit him with the left, and a right just before that. I didn’t think he was going to get up.”

Montiel, now 40-2-2, 30 KOs, is looking for bigger paydays at bantamweight, possibly against Donaire or in unifying two of the four major belts against WBC champ Hozumi Hasagawa.

Suffering his first loss, Morales drops to 14-1, 8 KOs.

Morel outdances Penalosa

Preceding the co-main WBO bantamweight title fight between Montiel and Morales was a 12-round WBO Interim bantamweight championship bout (which is, really, just a confusing way of saying it determined a mandatory challenger) between former champions Eric Morel, of Puerto Rico, and Filipino Gerry Penalosa.

Though slow-starting against the fast-dancing Morel, Penalosa built up steam down the stretch, weathering nicks and cuts, only to come out on the short end on the judges’ scorecards.

Morel salsa danced his way through the first three rounds, the three years difference in age looking more like a decade. Reach, movement and an unwillingness to trade in the pocket forced Penalosa to plod forward, hoping for the right opportunity.

The chance came in the fourth when Morel gave up the round by trading with the harder-hitting Penalosa, who landed big body shots. The two treated a crowd, that had started to snooze in the first three stanzas, with a big exchange at the end.

Morel was back to dancing in the fifth, but obliged Penalosa one pleasing exchange before the bell.

Penalosa’s face was battered in the sixth – by way of accidental head clashes – and the fight was stopped twice for the ringside doc to give the green light to the sudden outpouring of red streaking the former champ’s mug. Fighting with a sense of urgency, Penalosa poured it – or tried to – while Morel kept to the outskirts.

Penalosa pressed on through the seventh, but it wasn’t until the eighth that he was able to turn the tide of the fight. Landing his best shots – straight lefts – Penalosa edged the round.

Booed for running, then for putting Penalosa in a headlock, then for hitting and holding, Morel ran his race through the ninth and tenth. The head-shaven hoofer did, however, let his hair down long to launch a rare down-and-dirty attack on his foe before the end of round ten.

What was a race and a chase turned into a fight in the final two rounds, and the two revved up the crowd by trading heavily. Morel showed his grit, but it was grim-faced Penalosa who landed did the heavier grilling.

No surprise to a ringside that was divided, the judges, too, were split, scoring it 115-113 and 116-112 Morel (judges Duane Ford Paul Smith), and 115-113, Penalosa (Dick Houck).

Fightnews had it 115-113, Morel.

Becoming the mandatory challenger – and/or the interim champion, if you’re one to adhere to WBO office protocol – Morel moves his record to 42-2, 21 KOs.

Penalosa, losing two in a row, falls to 54-8-2, 36 KOs.

www.Fightwireimages.comBernabe’s jones

Jonesing for his second world title fight, Filipino Bernabe Concepcion bounced back from a DQ loss to Steven Luevano for the WBO featherweight belt, to outpound Puerto Rico’s Mario Santiago for the right to face newly-crowned champ Juan Manuel “Juanma” Lopez.

It was pitty-patt punches and footwork vs. pithy Pinoy power: Though outboxing Concepcion through large portions of their unofficial ten-round eliminator, Santiago fell prey to the Filipino’s pounding power, weathering a sixth round knockdown.

Concepcion spent the first two rounds stalking Santiago, winging rights and hooks, but usually missing. The Filipino started to connect to the body in the third, but Santiago kept to his game plan, a Morel-like dance and faster hand point approach.

Concepcion started to close the gap in the fifth, but Santiago, too, upped his power punches, getting braver until, one round later, he paid the price when a murderous right dropped him to the canvas. Though making the count, Santiago’s legs buckled again later in the round by another right.

www.Fightwireimages.comJust when it looked like he was going to send Santiago home early, Concepcion took off the seventh, actually allowing the Puerto Rican his best moments in the fight by resting against the ropes in a cover-up.

Fighting in rare spurts, Concepcion gave up the eighth, as well, and took several hard body shots in the ninth. Landing few – but furiously when he did – Concepcion came back in the tenth, though Santiago, by his roar of victory, still thought he’d won the fight.

Despite the range of scores that said otherwise – from 98-91 to 97-92 to 96-93 – several ringsiders (and those booing the decision) were of like opinion.

Fightnews had it five rounds apiece, the knockdown in the sixth making the difference for Concepcion, 95-94.

Concepcion raises his stats to 28-3-1, 15 KOs while Santiago, losing for the first time in nearly three years, falls to 21-2-1, 14 KOs.

www.Fightwireimages.comOff-TV bouts
Magdaleno still undefeated

In an eight-round super featherweight – and only local – bout of the evening, Las Vegas’ Diego Magdaleno (14-0, 3 KOs) decisioned Floriano Pagliara (10-4, 6 KOs), of Cecina, Italy.

Though busier, Magdaleno edged the first with his aggression though Pagliara countered well enough in the second to even the score. Both missed the majority of their shots in the third but Magdaleno launched an attack in the final moments to take the round.

Finally, the two engaged in the fourth. Though neither were equipped to hurt the other, Magdaleno’s higher work rate and aggression kept the fight in his pocket.

What was a welcome bathroom break for the first several rounds actually turned into a decent fight in the fifth, when the two began to trade consistently.

Going to the body and throwing more, Magadaleno continued to rack up rounds through the final three rounds.

Scores were 80-72, 78-74 and 79-73, all for the local favorite.

Harris plays Russian roulette

In a six-round middleweight bout, undefeated Russian Matt Korobov (10-0, 8 KOs) scored his tenth victory stopping Lamar Harris (6-5-3, 4 KOs), of St. Louis, Mo at 1:05 in the first round.

Korobov’s first big left to the chest had Harris shaking his head – “Ha, that didn’t hurt.” The second one silenced Harris and the third had him splashed against the ropes for the taking.

Moving in for the finish, Korobov unleashed a frenzied flurry that had ref Robert Byrd flying in to wave the skirmish off at 1:05.

Viva lost Vega

Either zillion-time National Golden Gloves champ Jose Benavidez (2-0, 2 KO), of Phoenix, is that good, or overmatched John Vega (0-2), of Carrizo Springs, Texas, is that bad.

It’s probably a lot of both.

Defenseless, offenseless Vega was down from a right in the first minute. Looking like a lost little puppy, he was on the receiving end of a couple more shots in his own corner when he stuck his head through the ropes and signaled to his corner that he’d had enough of this 17-year-old high school student for one night, or one lifetime.

The fight was called off at 1:07.

www.Fightwireimages.comMJM too grand for Gatica

In an eight-rounder at welter, Filipino Mark “MJM Grand” Melligen (17-2, 13 KOs) floored Raymond Gatica (11-1, 6 KOs), of Austin, Texas, twice en route to a sixth round victory.

Though undefeated, Gatica’s “Made in Texas” resume proved inadequate when making the jump to someone like Melligen, and the harder-hitting Filipino hopeful had the Texan on his tricycle for most of the fight.

Melligen pushed the action early while Gatica sought to trade from the sidelines. Slapping shots at the Melligen freight train, Gatica looked like a human octopus, throwing slippery tentacles before tying up after tasting the Filipino’s big lefts.

In the fourth, Gatica had his best moments when Melligen took a catnap, but a round later, Melligen went headhunting. It paid off, too; big lefts staggered, then floored Gatica.

In the sixth, a barrage floored Gatica again and though the game Texan beat the count, a barrage of lefts and rights had ref Kenny Bayless waving off the bout at 2:36.

www.Fightwireimages.comMarengo struggles with Portillo

In the opening bout, Puerto Rican featherweight Hector Marengo (5-0-1, 3 KOs) could do no better than a draw with mauling, brawling Edgar Portillo (6-3-1, 4 KOs) of Midland, Texas.

Portillo poured it on early, but Marengo took control with cleaner boxing, at least through the third round. By the fourth, the undefeated hopeful proved unable to cope with Portillo’s rough style.

Headbutts stalled the action for a bit in the fourth, and both fighters showed wear and tear by the end of the round, Marengo looking worse, his left eye sporting a cut.

Portillo threw Marengo off course, roughing him up on the inside in the fifth, sometimes straying a shot south of the border. Not wanting to play bumper cars with his forehead and trying to steer clear of low blows (“That was low – by the knee,” ref Jay Nady warned Portillo at one point), Marengo was forced to fight defensively, giving up the final round that cost him the win.

Scores were 58-56 twice – one apiece – and 57-57, ruling the bout a draw.

Escalante-Okada close the show

In the walkout bout of the evening, Filipino debuter Bruno Escalante (0-0-1) had a less-than-easy welcome into the pro ranks by drawing with Takashi Okada (1-0-1, 1 KO), of Okayama, Japan.

Okada took the lead in the first, but Escalante might’ve stolen the round in the last minute with sudden aggression. Landing the harder shots, the Filipino forced an inside slugging match with Okada in the second and third. In the final round, Okada’s relentless attack swung the fight back in his favor.

Judges scored it 39-37 apiece, and a draw-deciding 38-38.

Pacquiao, Torres bonus photos

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