SAN DIEGO, June 21, 2014 – Pull out your favorite boxing clichés about warriors battling mano a mano, fighting in a phone booth, brawling toe to toe. They all apply to Saturday’s main event at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Boxing magic gets made regularly at this small Southern California outdoor venue. Saturday was no exception.
In a wild, crowd-pleasing fight consisting of nonstop power punches, Robert Guerrero (32-2-1, 18 KOs) of Gilroy, California won a unanimous decision over Yoshihiro Kamegai (24-2-1, 21 KOs) of Japan. Once again fans saw the kind of show that seems to happen when fighters go at it under the stars.
What is it about this place? We’ve seen Marquez-Vasquez III, Matthysse-Molina, Rios-Alvarado I and Bradley-Provodnikov. In our preview report, we wondered whether we’d get our third Fight of the Year in a row out of the StubHub Center, but never thought for a second it was possible. Now you can add Guerrero vs. Kamegai.
Guerrero got busy right away, and it was a slugfest from the start despite Guerrero saying before the fight he wasn’t going to engage with Kamegai. Engage he did. Kamegai proved the equal of Guerrero’s shots in the early rounds and didn’t fade early as expected for a boxer who’s never gone 12 rounds.
In round six, Kamegai hit Guerrero with a left upper cut and several follow-up punches that opened a cut over Guerrero’s left eye. It grew worse through the second half of the fight, but Guerrero soldiered on.
Guerrero and Kamegai came into the fight in phenomenal condition. Guerrero has taken up Crossfit training and gave the discipline credit for getting him ready for this type of punishing fight. Whatever he did, it allowed him to land 411 power punches in 12 rounds, versus Kamegai’s 278 power punches.
Guerrero wrapped up the fight with a blistering series of punches in the final round. Credit to Kamegai for standing up to those punches, but he had little left to offer in return. It was a tremendous return to the ring for Guerrero after a 13-month break.
Max Deluca scored it 116-112; Pat Russell and Tony Krebs scored it 117-111.
So why did Guerrero decide to engage in this sort of brawl? After the fight, he said “I fell into his style, but that’s the type of guy I am, I’ll stay in no matter how hard a guy hits. He hits hard man… He’s a tough guy. The fans, they love it. I like to get the fans what they want. So I stood there and banged it out with him.”
As for ring rust, Guerrero said, “You don’t find out about ring rust until you get in there. I’ve been out for a year. It’s time to go out there and start working again.” Guerrero said there are a lot of good fights out there waiting next, but he will let his management take care of that. “We’re ready to go.”
Kamegai said he didn’t have much to say. “I came here to fight a great fighter like Robert Guerrero and I came here to win. There’s not much I can say because I didn’t win.”
In the battle of Olympians, two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko (2-1, 1 KO) from Ukraine proved too tough a challenge for 2008 Olympian Gary Russell Jr. (24-1, 14 KOs), handing the American his first loss and becoming the WBO featherweight champion. He ties the record for winning a professional boxing title in the least number of fights with Saensak Muangsurin of Thailand, in three fights.
Lomachenko took the bout by majority decision, with Max Deluca and Pat Russell scoring it 116-112, and Lisa Giampa had it 114-114. For all Russell’s hand speed, he couldn’t connect the way he needed to do damage to Lomachenko. Lomachenko stepped forward with the confidence of a seasoned professional, landing body shots in combination that simply wore Russell out. Russell proved he can take a punch, but that isn’t going to win you a bout outright.
In the later rounds, Lomachenko convinced any doubters up to that point whether he was in command of the fight by hitting Russell to the body and landing damaging left upper cuts at will. Russell stayed on his feet, but didn’t have much to offer in return. In the final seconds of the 12th round, Lomachenko had Russell wobbling on his feet. He was fortunate to finish the fight. He had never faced an opponent with the talent of Lomachenko and he was unprepared.
Lomachenko tripled the number of punches landed as Russell, while also landing harder and more accurate punches. Lomachenko landed 31 percent of his punches (183 of 597); Russell landed a mere 10 percent (83 of 803).
On winning the title belt Lomachenko said, “I’m very happy, very excited to be a world champion … I was just working the plan was built by our team, I was just working hard.”
Russell was disappointed in himself. “We’re gladiators, we’re warriors. We’ll go back to the drawing board … He had real good lateral movement, we tried to close the distance with the jab. I have to give it to him … I feel I didn’t execute the game plan like we did in the gym.”
Russell has talent and potential. He and his team should chalk this up to a learning experience that will only benefit him down the road. It’s also a lesson to other fighters to test themselves earlier in their career.
Former two-division champion Devon Alexander (26-2, 14 KOs), 27, of St. Louis got his career back on track with a unanimous decision over solid journeyman Jesus Soto Karass (28-10-3, 18 KOs), 31, of Mexico. Alexander is a steadily, solid performer frequently criticized for his unexciting style. Nevertheless, it worked for him. Over 1,800 punches were thrown between the two boxers in 10 rounds. Soto Karass tried to work the body of Alexander to tire him out, but Alexander was able to duck Soto Karass’s attempts to throw a lights out punch on several occasions.
Alexander sits in the thick of boxing’s most active and fan friendly weight divisions between welterweight and middleweight with formidable opponents. He’ll need to step it up to reach the top tier here.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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