SAN DIEGO, Calif., June 11, 2020 – Call Tuesday night’s first card a feeling out event. By Thursday night, the new venue at the MGM Grand Hotel now called “The Bubble” was warmed up and delivered all the action boxing fans have been craving in four fights. What the participants lacked in experience, they made up in heat and heart.
In the main event, featherweight Jessie Magdaleno of Las Vegas (28-1, 18 KOs) battled veteran Yenifel Vicente of Miami, Florida (36-5-2, 28 KOs), scoring two knockdowns but eventually winning by disqualification when referee Robert Byrd got fed up over Vicente’s repeated intentional low blows and fouls, stopping the fight at 1:38 of the tenth and final round.
Magdaleno started strong, targeting the body of Vicente. Two minutes into the round, backed into the corner, Magdaleno parried a right jab from Vicente, feinted and countered with a pretty left hook to the body, followed by a right to the head dropping Vicente two minutes into the fight. Vicente had never been stopped and didn’t want it to happen Thursday. He backed off to a safer distance. Magdaleno could afford to be patient.
As Magdaleno began to take control of the fight, Vicente decided to make it a street fight. Midway through the fourth round, Vicente landed a low blow to Magdaleno. As referee Robert Byrd moved in to waive Vicente away to allow Magdaleno the permitted five-minute recovery break, Vicente moved in and landed a hard right to the head. The blatantly illegal punch put Magdaleno down. Byrd gave Magdeleno his five minutes and he got to his feet. Byrd could have DQd Vicente right there. Instead, he docked Vicente two points for the foul. “When I tell you to stop, that’s what you have to do. You have to listen to me,” warned Byrd, repeating the instructions in Spanish. He took another point in the round from Vicente for continuing to fight roughly. In a ten-round fight, losing three points after a knockdown virtually forced Vicente to pursue a stoppage.
Magdaleno scored another knockdown on a short crisp right counterpunch in the fifth round, and Vicente had to realize the hole he’d dug for himself. Magdaleno could afford to be selective, giving Vicente nothing to work with. From this point, the fight devolved on Vicente’s side as he continued to rough Magdaleno up. He lacked any other tools to make headway. Finally, referee Robert Byrd had enough and called for the DQ. Scores at the time of the stopped were 87 – 79 X 2, and a perplexing 85-81 from judge Dave Moretti.
Magdaleno said he would have liked to take Vicente out, but gave him credit for being a rugged veteran fighter. “He was just a dirty fighter. Once he felt the power, once he felt that I put him down with various right hooks and the jab. he didn’t know how to come in because I was dodging everything. His way was to fight dirty and go low,” said Magdaleno.
“I tip my hat to him, he knew what he was doing. I’m too much of a smart fighter. I knew I had move and to keep moving on the outside, and catch him coming in with those right hands,” said Magdaleno. As the top-rated contender by the WBC at featherweight, Magdaleno said he’d like a shot at the titleholder. “Gary Russell, I’m coming baby,” said Magdaleno, but added he’d like to fight any of the division champions.
Adam Lopez and Louie Coria deliver the action
In the co-feature, Adam Lopez of Glendale, California (14-2, 6 KOs) and Louie Coria of Moreno Valley, California (12-3, 7 KOs) did not disappoint, delivering ten solid rounds of two-way action, with Lopez scoring a narrow majority decision victory for a vacant NABF Featherweight title. Scores were 96-94 twice (judges Tim Cheatham and Steve Weisfeld) and 95-95 (judge Dave Moretti).
Their opening bout should have been the first official fight back. It would have been a crowd-pleaser if there had been a crowd at “The Bubble” as the MGM Grand Hotel’s conference center venue is now called. Coria came right at Lopez from the opening bell applying plenty of pressure and got the better of him in the first two rounds. When Lopez settled in and settled down, relying on footwork to work behind his jab and move our of Coria’s way, he fared a lot better. But Coria kept up the pace, accumulating damage wherever he could. Any hope Lopez might have had that Coria would tire out or slow down was gone by the eighth round.
Coria’s accumulated damage began to show as Lopez’s eyes started to shut. Coria poured on the effort, and turned the fight back into his favor. As in many good scraps it came down to the final round. Trainer Robert Garcia told Coria he’d already made him proud; trainer Buddy McGirt told Lopez to stay on the outside and get it done. Lopez landed the cleaner hard shots in the round, and more punches overall to get the win.
Seeing himself on replays after the fight, Lopez said the damage to his face showed it was his toughest fight to date. “It feels like it, my eye hurts, my lip hurts. He was relentless. I was hitting him, honestly I hurt my hand hitting with my jab. He was relentless, he didn’t care. I hit him with body shots and I heard the wind go out of him. He had a lot of heart, he kept coming no matter what,” said Lopez.
Lopez said he and Coria applied different approaches to the fight. “I kept trying to box, he kept trying to fight. Sometimes I went to his game plan, sometimes he fell into my game plan,” he explained. “I feel like I made a lot of mistakes. Maybe he showed my weaknesses a little bit, I got a lot to work on. I’m young, I still only have 16 fights.”
More than 1,400 punches were landed in the ten rounds between Lopez and Coria. It’s easy to see why Lopez is called the “Glendale Gatti.” He’s right to get back in the gym and hone his craft so he doesn’t have to work quite that hard for his wins, although the fans certainly won’t mind.
Trainers Garcia and McGirt did their part too, delivering their customary loud and lively running instructions to their fighters throughout the bout. It often drowned out the ESPN commentating crew. It’s a rare treat for the fans at home, a benefit of the empty venue without the usual fan chatter.
Undercard results: Muratalla schools Robles ; Mondragon and Sanchez draw
Sometimes a recap writes itself. Bantamweight prospect and pre-school teacher Gabriel Muratalla of Fontana, California (3-0, 3 KOs) taught opponent Fernando Robles of Texas a lesson (2-3, 0 KOs). Muratalla had the upper hand from the start and didn’t let the first round get to the bell, scoring a hard right hand followed by a left hook to the body, and referee Robert Boyd called it a TKO win at 2:33 of the round.
How does “Mr. Gabriel” feel about his debut on national TV in only his third pro fight? “It’s wild. It was an experience, I’m happy I did my thing,” said Muratalla. He admitted, “I’m going to hear it from their parents” when he gets back to school.” But rest assured, he doesn’t allow any fighting in the classroom. “Break it up, it’s all peace,” said Muratalla.
Two unbeaten Southern California-based lightweights traded knockdowns in round one of their four-round fight. Eric Mondragon (3-0-1, 2 KOs) was the first to go down in the opening minute on a left uppercut; then Mike Sanchez (6-0-1, 2 KOs) gave the point away, dropped from a Mondragon short right hand.
OK, that’s how it’s going to be? Mondragon started mixing in body shots, and the southpaw Sanchez tried to position himself outside to get the advantage. They both made it to the final bell on their feet and without a loss, scoring a draw. Judges Tim Cheatham and Adelaide Byrd scored it 38-38; Steve Weisfeld gave it to Mondragon 39-37. Call it a learning experience and terrific experience and exposure for both.
ESPN’s fight series from “The Bubble” returns on Tuesday, June 16, with bantamweights Joshua Greer Jr. (22-1-1, 12 KOs) vs. Mike Plania (23-1, 12 KOs) in the ten-round main event.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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