ESPN2 results: Andrew Cancio beats Dardan Zenunaj in an exciting action fight
Andrew “Chango” Cancio earned a unanimous decision over Dardan Zenunaj, on Friday night, but had to dig deep to get the victory over the course of ten action-packed rounds. The junior lightweight contest was the main event of a Golden Boy Promotions card televised on ESPN2 and held at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California.
With his mouth open, his face bruised up and a leaky cut on the bridge of his nose, Cancio, a 29-year-old from nearby Blythe, had to fight off his back foot for much of the last few rounds, in order to circumvent the constant pressure from his Albanian counterpart, whose superb conditioning played a role in making it an interesting affair, let alone an entertaining one.
Cancio, 19-4-2 (14), got off to a tremendous start in the first three rounds. A left hook in the opening minute startled Zenunaj backward, in one of the few moments he looked seriously panicked in the entire fight, and Cancio worked off that early momentum to put together some crafty combinations. Straight hands and uppercuts were landing early and often for Cancio but his left hook was stopping Zenunaj in his tracks and making the bout more like a one-sided beating, amassing 137 total punches landed in those first three rounds.
Zenunaj, 14-5 (11), was getting peppered rather easily and had trouble with Cancio’s hand speed early on but, starting in the fourth round, his come-forward persistence paid off, as Cancio’s work rate started to catch up to him. By the midway point, not only was Cancio’s punch volume declining but his combinations weren’t as quick or authoritative, allowing Zenunaj to freely let his hands go and creep into the fight with every passing round in which he dictated the pace. There was no decline in Zenunaj’s work rate, once he got rolling, however, and, as the fight crept into the later rounds, Cancio had to do something about the momentum he had lost.
The last three rounds were drastically different than his start but Cancio was able to put together some much needed moments when fighting off the back foot. His jab was more effective on the move and he put together some offense of his own, once Zenunaj caught him with a few short hooks inside, the 31-year-old’s most consistent weapon in the fight. The late drama sparked some intense exchanges to close the eighth and ninth rounds in particular, in which the fight seemed up for grabs, as a fresh-faced Zenunaj sought to hurt Cancio until the final bell. There was plenty of bending but Cancio didn’t break from the relentless pressure he had to deal with all night.
By fight’s end, both fighters had thrown over a thousand punches and, despite a couple of wide scores (99-91 twice, 96-94) that didn’t really credit Zenunaj’s effort, he and Cancio certainly deserved the standing ovation.
In the ESPN2 junior middleweight co-feature, Greg “The Villain” Vendetti out-landed Yoshihiro Kamegai over the course of ten rounds to earn a convincing unanimous decision (98-92 twice, 97-93) victory.
Out of Stoneham, Massachusetts, Vendetti, 20-2-1 (12), out-worked and out-landed the action-friendly veteran from Sapporo, Japan. Standing toe-to-toe all night, Kamegai, 27-5-2 (24), got the type of fight he wanted but had trouble with Vendetti’s subtle head movement that had him missing and smothering much of his attack. It wasn’t until around the fourth round when Kamegai, 35, started to get into any offensive groove but once Vendetti figured out he could easily clinch after scoring a few shots, any momentum was thwarted by the middle rounds. Kamegai wasn’t as lively, compared to his recent outings, and this gave Vendetti, 28, the opportunity to get a big win out of seemingly nowhere.