CARSON, Calif., April 22, 2017 – There were no significant surprises at the StubHub Center for three undefeated world champions Saturday in Carson, California. Fans were just fine with the familiar, as they also saw the debut of an American Olympian who must live up to big expectations.
The 5,419 fans in attendance at the first boxing event in Carson enjoyed barnburner of a fight in the main event. Featherweights Oscar Valdez of Nogales, Mexico and Miguel Marriaga of Colombia delivered an all-action fight worthy of the StubHub’s reputation. The unanimous decision went to Valdez, by scores of 119-108, 118-109, and 116-111.
But don’t let the wide scores tell the story. The fight seemed far closer as it unfolded.
Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs) had his work cut out for him with the tough as nails Marriaga (25-2, 21 KOs) , who has never been stopped and only been knocked down once in his entire career. The pair began trading lightning fast combinations with plenty of power right from the opening bell, and didn’t let up.
Valdez dishes out plenty of power shots, but Marriaga can walk through fire, and he kept right on coming. Valdez in turn appeared to be shaken up several times in the fight, including the fourth round and in the ninth round. To this point of the bout, it appeared Marriaga might have the power to deliver a surprise.
But in the ninth, Valdez nearly dropped Marriage with a series of left hooks. He kept this firmly in mind and planted a perfect counter left hook on Marriage in the tenth round, who stumbled forward and went down. Marriaga got to his feet, but with half the round left, Valdez thought he had a chance to do what no one else could and get the stoppage. But Valdez couldn’t put him away. Like many eager young fighters, Valdez overestimated what he had left and ran out of steam before he could finish Marriaga.
It set up two wickedly entertaining rounds, six minutes of two warriors slugging away at each other. After the fight, Valdez claimed he hadn’t been hurt by Marriaga, though he did feel his shots.
Valdez said he now feels ready to take on the champions at 126-pounds, naming Leo Santa Cruz. It’s a fight the fans would love to see and they roared their approval.
Valdez continues to improve and impress, adding new skills to his arsenal of power powers driven by his determined attitude. But he does need to learn to pace himself and be more economical with his punches – fighting smarter, not harder. Otherwise he’ll have a hard time keeping up with the likes of Santa Cruz.
Super middleweight stablemate Gilberto Ramirez of Mexico (35-0, 24 KOs) defeated his second Eastern European veteran in a row with a unanimous decision over Maxim Bursak of Ukraine (33-5-1, 15 KO). Scores were 120-106 on all three cards; Bursak had two points taken away in the fourth and again in the 11th round for holding.
Ramirez had a few questions to answer in his fight. First, how would his injured hand hold up? Second, would he maintain or improve the skill level he showed in winning his WBO title from Arthur Abraham?
Asked and answered. The hand was fine, and Ramirez didn’t seem especially challenged by Bursak, who worked hard enough landed just enough punches to make it a fight. It wasn’t especially fun or pretty to watch, but this was an important assignment for Ramirez to complete and he did.
Thanks to bantamweight Jessie “El Peligroso” Magdaleno of Las Vegas (25-0, 18 KOs), the “Three Amigos” were three for three. He dropped Adeilson Dos Santos of Brazil (18-3, 14 KOs) midway through the second round, and then he pounced and poured it on. He knocked Dos Santos down one more time, forcing referee Lou Moret to stop the bout at 2:51 of the second round. Magdaleno retains his WBO world title.
“I know I trained my butt off for this, I intend to be champion for a very long time,” said Magdaleno after the fight. “(Dos Santos) kept trying to counter me, so I played his game for a little bit until he made a mistake and I countered with the right hook and caught him underneath. Down he went.” Of all the fighters on the card, Magdaleno is the one flying furthest under the radar, and it’s too bad. He’s fun to watch, flashy, aggressive and crowd-pleasing. He’s campaigning in a division where plenty of challenges await him.
Magdaleno says he’ll fight anyone with a title belt in the 122-pound division, including his possible WBO mandatory challenger, Cesar Juarez, who was ringside scouting his possible foe. It’s a fight fans should enjoy.
Shakur Stevenson stepped into the ring as a professional for the first time Saturday, accompanied by 2004 Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward and 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields, who came to Carson to support Stevenson in his professional debut.
They couldn’t help in in the ring, but perhaps he got a little help elsewhere in the end. Stevenson (1-0) got his first victory in the books by decision over Edgar Brito of Phoenix (3-4-1, 2 KOs). The ringside physician and referee Eddie Hernandez made the determination Brito was unable to finish the fight due to cuts suffered from head butts. At least one of them was ruled intentional in the fourth round, and Hernandez had already taken a point away from Brito. The stoppage raised some questions, since Brito was on his feet in the corner. So it goes to the scorecards, and all three judges had it 60-54 to give Stevenson the unanimous decision.
“Before the fight, they told me not to go for the knockout,” said Stevenson. “Getting rounds in was more important. I give myself an A-minus.”
The fans are supportive but they can also be unforgiving when they don’t like how a fight is handled, and boos rained down on Stevenson during his post-fight interview. He admitted he’s got a lot to work on. He showed some nerves but now he can put it behind him. Bob Arum would be smart to get Stevenson right back in the ring as soon as possible.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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