ESPN2 results: Lamont Roach Jr. and Orlando Cruz fight to a draw
On Thursday night in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Lamont Roach Jr. and Orlando Cruz fought to a split-draw after 10 competitive rounds of boxing – and one mistake by referee Luis Pabon. The junior lightweight contest was the main event of a Golden Boy Promotions card televised on ESPN2, from the Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum.
Fighting out of Washington D.C., Roach, 22, approached his step-up in competition with a relaxed demeanor, as he slowly tried to figure out the southpaw. Cruz, an aggressive fighter by nature, held himself back in the counter position throughout the fight, however, leaving him and Roach in an action-less game of chess, with plenty of feints, misses and clinches for much of the 10 rounds. In the final moments of the second round, Roach landed a big right hand that showed he had the power to hurt Cruz but, soon enough, Roach would start fighting with apprehension, instead of patience.
Cruz, 25-6-2 (13), showed every bit of the experience he’s garnered as an Olympian and 18-year-pro. The 36-year-old began to time his counters in the middle rounds and although they weren’t hurting the American prospect, they were certainly to blame for Roach’s apprehension. Roach was gun shy in the in the middle rounds and, with Cruz rallying his home crowd after every sporadic score, their cheers were certain doom for the visiting corner, as they strung along close, uptight rounds that were hard to definitively score.
In the ninth, with the fight up in the air, Roach, 16-0-1 (6), landed the best punch of the fight and created its only memorable moment when it rendered Cruz wobbly-legged and on the mat two seconds later. Cruz was trying to hold on before his shaky legs gave way, after Lamont backed off, and Pabon rushed in, only to rule it a slip. Roach stalked Cruz for the remaining 30 seconds and turned in another solid round in the 10th, to cap off what could’ve been a win, had Pabon rightfully scored a knockdown in Roach’s favor. A case of controversy for Roach, as he’s sure to watch the replay again and again, shaking his head, but that moment was only one that saved a fight he was letting slip away.
The Puerto Rico vs. Mexico rivalry made an appearance in the ESPN2 co-feature and, to the island’s pleasure, Jose “Wonder Boy” Lopez outboxed and outclassed Miguel Angel Gonzalez to earn a wide unanimous decision (99-91, 98-92 and 97-93) after 10 rounds in the junior lightweight class.
The fight started with a head clash in the first round that left Gonzalez bleeding and Lopez shelled up, with his back against the ropes afterward. The cut wasn’t too bad and it didn’t prevent Gonzalez from wailing on Lopez with body shots but, starting in the second, the Puerto Rican was starting to put together some punches. Standing toe-to-toe, Lopez varied his hooks and uppercuts in short combinations that easily found the holes in Gonzalez’s offense, which was slow and predictable. With his jab also being a factor, Lopez maintained control through the middle rounds and Gonzalez had a mouse growing under his left eye by the fifth.
Lopez, 20-2-1 (14), who was coming off a November defeat to Avery Sparrow stateside, was the ring general throughout this one but Gonzalez’s drive and ability to take a punch were able to make things monotonous. Going into the later rounds, Gonzalez, 22-4 (19), was starting to get turned around whenever he had the chance to get Lopez’s back against the ropes but his effort never dwindled, as he huffed and puffed in the final two. By then, Lopez had a lead left hook down that peppered the Mexican’s head, to the home crowd’s pleasure. In the final round, Lopez flirted with a knockout but with the win in the bag, ran out the final seconds with his Mexican counterpart still asking for more.
In the opening bout of the ESPN2 telecast, Magdiel Cotto received a majority decision (58-56 twice, 57-57) win over Elie Augustama after six competitive rounds of middleweight action.
Cotto, 9-0 (7), out-landed his Haitian foe to earn the well-deserved nod but Augustama, 6-8 (3), kept himself in it with a long, pumping jab that eventually forced a cut on the Puerto Rican’s cheek. Cotto, 25, weathered the game opponent by varying his attack, once on the inside, and ultimately set the pace of the fight.