Leonardo Zappavigna can exit with his head held high
Like he had done consistently throughout his career, Saturday night, in Oklahoma City, iron-tough warrior Leonardo Zappavigna (better known as “Lenny Zappa”) fought with nuts and guts, in an all-out war against undefeated hometown hero Alex Saucedo.
In the end, in a back-and-forth war that not only thrilled the highly charged, pro-Saucedo crowd but is being considered a strong candidate for “Fight of the Year,” Zappavigna came up short, getting stopped in round seven.
Alex “El Cholo” Saucedo, 28-0 (18), now ranked No. 1 in the WBO’s junior welterweight rankings, has now slotted himself into a title fight with organization champion Maurice Hooker.
Zappavigna, 37-4 (27), from New South Wales, Australia, showed up to the Chesapeake Energy Arena, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, looking to pull off the upset and recharge his own career with a signature win.
Saucedo, undefeated and looking to earn a title shot with the win, may have been the favorite but he was going to have to get through Zappavigna, and that is no easy day at the office.
Both fighters caught their fair share of shots and were both cut in the bout. Saucedo dropped Zappavigna in the third frame but, as he has done many times in his career, Zappavigna fought back, fiercely showing the heart and determination that will define his legacy as a fighter.
Round four saw Zappavigna get the better of Saucedo, landing some bombs throughout the round. Credit to the Arturo Gatti-esque Saucedo, who weathered the attack and maintained composure in a scenario that might have seen a lesser up-and-comer folding.
However over the next few rounds, Saucedo worked off of a strong jab, closed Zappavigna’s left eye and rendered his face a crimson mask.
With the bleeding and swelling at a dangerous level, Zappavigna’s corner threw in the towel at 2:31 of round seven.
Saucedo leapt onto the ring ropes to the roars of the hometown crowd, knowing he was headed toward a world title shot, while a disappointed Zappavigna would exit the ring for seemingly the final time.
Zappavigna, who challenged Miguel Vazquez for the IBF lightweight title in 2011, leaves the ring with an impressive resume that sports 37 wins in 41 fights in a 12-year career.
However numbers don’t just tell the whole story.
When Lenny Zappa entered the ring, fans knew he was going to give everything he had that night; he was going to leave it all in the ring. Saturday night, like he had done 40 other times as a pro, Zappavigna gave everything he had in a thrilling effort.
After the fight, UCNLive caught up with Zappavigna manager Mike Altamura, who was once again humbled by and proud of his charge’s effort.
“He gave a good effort; he gave it everything he had brother,” said Altamura, “but the cuts and swelling, that has plagued him throughout his career, were a problem again tonight. Lenny is a true warrior and I have so much respect for him.”
Zappavigna can walk away with the respect earned from every fighter he faced and every fan who watched him.
Lenny, sit back and relax; you’ve earned it. Look back with pride, and reflect on a great career.