ESPN results: Alex Saucedo stops Leonardo Zappavigna
Fighting in his hometown of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, undefeated junior welterweight contender Alex “Cholo” Saucedo stole the show, Saturday night, in his TKO victory over Lenny Zappavigna, which was slated as the co-feature of an ESPN card promoted by Top Rank.
“I’ve been in trouble before. We know how to control it and stay calm,” Saucedo said in the post-fight interview. “It felt like another night at the office. I’m looking forward to bigger things.”
In the unruly workplace of a boxing ring, Saucedo and Zappavigna produced the type of stuff that separates the fighter from athlete, the warrior from human and the occupation from devotion. Their office, on this night, a smaller-than-usual, 20-foot ring harbored the dramatic effect of two offensive-minded fighters clashing, and making a case of will over skill.
After the first round of action, it was already clear they were willing to trade toe-to-toe. Both men took turns throwing varied, three-punch combinations off their jabs but, once Saucedo bopped Zappavigna with a clean overhand right, to start the second round, the level of intensity grew and so did the amount of flush shots landed. Just moments later, Zappavigna earned respect, once handing over a right of his own and soon finding the timing of a counter left hook that took advantage of the motionless head of Saucedo, who was admiring his own work. By the end of that second, however, Saucedo forced a small nick near the right eye of Zappavigna with a punch, and, a minute into the third, dropped him with a wicked, right counter shot that erupted the Chesapeake Arena. With seemingly all 5,241 in attendance standing on their feet, and cheering his cause, Saucedo went in for the kill, once action resumed. Zappavigna, 30, put his guard up and eked through flurried shots before finding his footing and scoring a big right hand, a minute later. By the end of the third, “Lenny Zappa” landed enough consecutive right hands to back Saucedo up, as the bell sounded.
Zappavigna, 37-4 (27), kept at it with the overhand rights into the fourth, and prompted the most dramatic round of the fight, once one caught Saucedo square on the chin in the opening minute. Saucedo was dazed badly and stayed glued to the ropes as the Australian wailed on him with right hands and left hooks, while Saucedo did his best to bob and weave. With two minutes left still in the fourth, Saucedo resorted to a clinch but wasn’t very successful, and soon found himself trading with Zappavigna, with an open mouth and shaky legs. Soon enough, blood was drawn from Saucedo, near his right eye, and the hometown crowd was now on its feet again, this time out of desperation, as the war continued throughout the round. Once the dust settled, Saucedo managed to worsen Zappavigna’s cut, and start the swelling of his right eye, but the visitor had all the momentum going into the fifth.
Saucedo, 28-0 (18), doubled-up a jab to prevent Zappavigna from teeing off again, and even had him bottled up against the ropes, after a right split the guard. Zappavigna caught Saucedo again with a right by the end of the fifth but, as Saucedo continued to maintain his distance and pace, the damage was starting to get noticeably worse by the end of the sixth. Zappavigna had trouble seeing now that both eyes had cuts around them but between pawing at his eyes, the veteran would muster up the courage to come forward and let off a fiery combination, with the hopes of hitting a home run. Saucedo’s rhythm with the jab and be-first mentality prevented that from happening. Zappavigna was now expending himself just to get away, in the seventh round, and, with 30 seconds left to go in the round, referee Gerald Ritter waved it off, once noticing the official on the apron.
“I said that I was ready for whatever he was going to bring the ring,” Saucedo said. “Tonight I proved it. That was a very tough fourth round but I got through it because I’m mentally strong. It was a very long training camp and I thought of all the sacrifices I made to prepare for this fight. I did it. I got a big win against a great fighter, and in front of my fans. We gave them an exciting fight. Now I’m ready to move on to bigger and better things. I want to become a world champion.”
Saucedo is the No. 1 junior welterweight contender in the WBO, and the sanctioning body just crowned its new 140-pound titleholder, earlier this month. When Saucedo was asked about whom he’d like to face next, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum stepped in and answered, “He’s fighting (new titlist) Maurice Hooker. (Saucedo)’s the mandatory. That title fight will be later this year. He’ll be healed and this will be the new champion from Oklahoma City!”
In the main event of the Top Rank card, Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez successfully defended his WBO super middleweight title for the fourth time, after outworking Roamer Alexis Angulo to a unanimous decision (119-109 twice, 120-108) win.
Ramirez, 38-0 (25), didn’t have to think often about the punches coming from his Colombian opponent but, when Angulo did manage to land, in the few instances in which he threw, there was looming destruction. Ramirez was startled by a right hand in the third round and proceeded to spark the fight but the flame wouldn’t last more than a round as Ramirez figured out that being light on his feet and mobile was enough to get around the plodding puncher. Angulo, 23-1 (20), took the shots well from Ramirez but didn’t nearly match the volume of offense to create a close fight, despite it being more competitive than originally thought. The 34-year-old went past eight rounds for the first time, and put up a better effort in the final round, but Ramirez was too smart to play Angulo’s game, given the very minor threat he displayed.