ESPN results: Jose Martinez and Alex Santiago fight to a draw again
The rematch was made to settle a draw and, after 10 rounds of competitive junior bantamweight action, Jose Martinez and Alex Santiago fought to another draw. The fight was the main event of an ESPN card, televised live from Complejo Ferial in Ponce, Puerto Rico, co-promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Cotto Promotions.
Each was given a score of 96-94 in his favor and, just after the third score of 95-95 was read, Santiago could already be seen pleading with Martinez for another rematch.
Fighting out of Tijuana, Mexico, Santiago, 15-2-4 (7), returned to Martinez’s home turf in hopes to prove he was, in fact, the better man after their first go-round. Most thought he beat Martinez in that fight and that the hometown fighter got the benefit of the doubt in the end. That may very well be the case again, after Santiago ended the fight on a higher note, thanks to his ferocious ability to get on the inside. His active hands had Martinez backpedaling for much of the final two rounds, and even hurt in one instance, but the Puerto Rican had already done plenty of work to make a compelling case.
Martinez, 20-0-2 (13), got off to the better start, thanks to a long jab that kept the shorter opponent on the outside. A few right hands from “Chiquiro” forced Santiago against the ropes on a few occasions, in which Martinez was seemingly in control. Santiago eventually found a way around that jab in the third and the fight started to get heated once he did. Great exchanges started to happen in the fifth round – the fight’s best span of three minutes – making it apparent that their contrasting styles were made for each other. Martinez stunned Santiago with a short right hand in the middle rounds but everything Santiago did to finish the fight resonated in the end.
In the co-feature, Lucas Fernandez handed Joshua Franco his first defeat after forcing a referee’s stoppage in the ninth round of an action-packed fight. The junior bantamweight contest was scheduled for ten.
Franco, 13-1 (6), began the fight with a tremendous uppercut that dropped Fernandez hard to the mat, in the final moments of the opening round, and aggressively went back to work to start the second, to try to get him out of there. Fernandez, 26, proved himself tough as he withstood the right hands up the middle that Franco sniped behind his consistent jab. As he started to throw back in the third, there was no doubt the Argentinean was game against the undefeated prospect.
Fernandez, 12-1-1 (9), wanted to get into heated exchanges with Franco and even though his counterpart was getting off the sharper shots, his body work, in return, slowly got him back into the fight, by the midway point. In the sixth, a right hand caught Franco to start the round – marking the first time the 22-year-old seemed hurt in the fight – but Franco recovered nicely, even giving an effort in the round’s final 45 seconds that may have stolen the round. Fernandez’s scrappy slugging didn’t give Franco much room for error in the seventh but the San Antonio, Texas, native had a tremendous eighth round, in which he seemed to take control of the fight.
That kicked off a confident impetus for Franco to start round nine but Fernandez caught him with an overhand right that hurt him badly, worse than the first time. Franco tried to clinch but Fernandez did a good job of not letting that happen, with his footwork. Franco bent at the waist, trying to elude Fernandez’s attack and, after one landed flush near the back of his head, referee Jose Hiram Rivera decided to step in and wave off the fight. Franco shrugged in surprise, immediately afterward – giving credence to the notion that he was OK to continue – but the decision was made and Fernandez celebrated by pulling off a mini-upset.
Puerto Rican welterweight prospect Danielito Zorrilla took the opportunity to showcase his talent in the TV swing bout and, in his unanimous decision (60-52 on all three official scorecards) win over Clifford Gray, 1-4, enjoyed two highlight reel knockdowns that proved he was a name worth remembering.
Zorrilla, 5-0 (4), had a craftiness that seemed to come naturally against a fiery opponent willing to take chances. In the the fourth round, he cocked a right hand, as Gray came forward, and delivered a picture-perfect right hand to the chin that sent him to the mat in a flash. In boxing’s version of a ball carrier trucking a defender, Zorrilla even hurled over Gray to get to the neutral corner, adding to the highlight. In the fifth, a cuffed lead right hand caught Gray by surprise and dropped him flat on his back, which conjured a roar from his home crowd. Zorrilla may have gotten the knockout, had the bell not saved Gray, in that instance, but it was still an impressive outing at this stage of the 24-year-old’s career.
In the opening bout of the ESPN telecast, Josean Serra dominated Marco Sanchez with body shots, knocking him down twice, en route to a corner stoppage midway through the third round. The junior bantamweight contest was scheduled for six.
Fighting in his hometown, Serra, 12-1 (8), couldn’t have performed better in his American television debut against an opponent set up on a tee. Fighting out of Mexicali, Sanchez, 12-7-3 (7), had the softest of jabs and the leakiest of defenses, and Serra exploited the latter with a patient technique that started with a solid jab of his own. By the end of the opening round, Serra peppered Sanchez around the ring and a left to the body in the second, to score the first knockdown, started a quick unraveling. Sanchez spit his mouthpiece out once getting up and somehow survived the round, being hunched over and looking for a way out. Serra’s body work continued to be precise, in the third, and Sanchez slowly crumbled to a knee midway through, just before his corner threw in the towel.