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Every Joe Gans Lightweight Title Fight – Part 2: Frank Erne II

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The lightninglike character of the defeat struck consternation into the hearts of the thousand Erne men at the ringside. They were dumfounded. Their champion had met defeat before he had fairly begun to fight. – The Brooklyn Eagle, May 13, 1902.

At the end of Part 1, we left Joe Gans with a career it tatters. By quitting to Frank Erne in a world title fight and then colluding in an apparent fix against Terry McGovern, Gans had committed the two mortal sins of the ring. Months after the McGovern debacle The Waterbury Democrat ran a speculative piece under the headline “Is Gans Chicken Hearted?” More than a year after the first Gans-Erne fight, the St.Paul Globe reported on Joe’s attempts to break into the San Francisco fight scene: “Fortunately Gans’ evil reputation has preceded him and the ‘Frisco sports are consequently forewarned and forearmed against the threatened coming of that most undesirable negro pugilist.”

His name was mud.

Erne, for his part, was clear: he would take “no notice of challenges directed” by, or on behalf of, Joe Gans. Ahead at the time of the stoppage, Gans was twice disgraced, and a fighter Erne needed no part of. Gans, though, had been a professional for eight years before he tempted Erne into the ring and knew the two-part equation for forcing a champion’s hand: kick ass and take names.

This work started in earnest in the May of 1901, some months having elapsed since his miserable hippodrome against McGovern. His opponent that day was the wonderful Bobby Dobbs, the old-time “colored” lightweight champion, too vulnerable, perhaps, to be compared directly to Gans but a boxer of some brilliance. His career spanned five decades and during it he took to the ring more than two-hundred times. Suffice to say, he was no pushover, a veteran of the ring who had a decade and more of fighting before him. Gans “made a chopping block” of the wily Dobbs who did not land a meaningful blow according to the wire report. Gans was back in earnest.

That said, nothing more underlined his being drawn back into the chasing pack of lightweights than the fact that he was now once more battling for the “colored” lightweight championship. This title is viewed in modern times, rightly, as something of an ignominy but in fact various “colored” titles were fought for as late as the 1940s and often by men as good as or better than the reigning “world” (and by implication, white) champion. This title worked as a chokepoint for black contenders, a way of thinning out the ranks of African-American fighters who sought championship fights. Black fighters first had to prove themselves the best black fighter, and then they might be allowed to fight for the real title. Gans then, sought to prove himself once more.

He hit a bump in the road against the excellent Steve Crosby in August, boxing a twenty-round draw in a fight he dominated, his soon-to-be-legendary blocking bedrocking an inspired generalship that kept Gans in control throughout. But Crosby, too, was a fighter of no small talent and in the nineteenth, he rushed Gans and was not turned away. The pattern of the fight had seen Gans pin Crosby to the ropes at the end of exchanges, here, instead, Crobsy held his ground and a tired Gans was outhustled in both the nineteenth and twentieth rounds.

Joe clinching his way through the late stages looked bad; the referee, according to the wire report, “could only call the match a draw.”

Gans was no longer a young man and I think this was the last major lesson he learned in the ring. As Jack Blackburn would tell Joe Louis three decades later, “let your fist be your judges, Chappie.” Gans was the best technician of his generation, more, the best technician in history up until that point.  Like every technician he hIn January of 1901 he stopped Bobby Dobbs for a second time and what had been clear once before was clear again: Joe Gans was far and away the best of the African-American lightweights and deserved another chance at the champion.ad a question to answer, and that question was more urgent in the early 1900s, with fights often scored on the general impressions of the referee: when to cut loose. Gans wasn’t quite given the chance to answer in the immediate rematch, which was stopped by police interference while Gans battered Crosby about the ring, but it is no coincidence that Gans scored four quick knockouts in his next four fights. These included a one round stoppage of Joe Handler, a man who had never been stopped and was himself coming off a win over the excellent Spike Sullivan.  Gans, perhaps, had a redeveloped a mindset, one fixated on stoppage victories even over class opponents he had tended to seek to outgeneral.

Erne, for his own part, was not without problems. Not least among them was the same Terry McGovern with whom Gans had performed his disastrous charade; McGovern had put a much more legitimate hurting upon Erne at a catchweight. A sojourn to 147lbs in search of a second championship had also seen him hurt. There were those that saw the champion slipping just as they saw Gans beginning to surge.

Surge, and surge irresistibly, for around January a rematch was planned for February. A six-round no -decision whereby Gans would have to win by stoppage to take the title, it seemed little more than an exhibition and very much in keeping with the Philadelphia law of the time. It was also the first step on the road to a legitimate second fight for the world’s lightweight title.

The Buffalo Courier, which watched Buffalo resident Frank Erne’s every move, speculated as to the significant financial rewards which must have been on offer to induce Frank to face a man he had sworn off fighting before noting that Erne’s title was for the most part protected by the ruleset. Gans’ compliance in boxing six was all but implied and there seemed little chance, anyway, of Erne succumbing in six to a technician like Gans. Nevertheless, the paper reported on January 19th that the contest “will be worth going a distance to see. While they fought at long distance [in their first fight], Gans damaged the Buffalo boy considerably.”

Both things were true, and people did indeed go a distance to see the Philadelphia fight that February – only for Erne to no-show.

This was not a carefully considered withdrawal, either, but a panicked last-minute dereliction of duty leaving an angry crowd disappointed at the gate – not quite the equal to the sins perpetrated by Joe Gans, but only a single magnitude lower.

Erne spoke freely of a plan to “do him”, that Gans, clearly in superb condition, plotted to attempt to knock Erne out, an accusation denied vociferously by Gans. This sounds strange to modern ears – why would Erne be upset at the notion that Gans would try to knock him out? And why would Gans deny it? They were fighting, weren’t they? They were, but laws differed by state in America at the time and there were perceived differences in different types of fighting. Erne’s expectations of an exhibition rather than a prizefight were not unusual; there were even stories that Gans had posted a thousand-dollar bond against his winning by stoppage.

That this would not be considered a fix where the Gans-McGovern fight was very much in the shades of grey associated with the era. In fact, Erne only disgraced himself by the lateness of his withdrawal – the accusation of a double-cross was otherwise taken seriously.

Still, having won all but one of his previous eight contests by stoppage – including a Philadelphian six-rounder with Joe Youngs, who he beat into retirement in just four – Gans cast a shadow so menacing as to intimidate even Erne. Erne wanted time, time to improve his shape and perhaps to reclaim his confidence. Softer fights were made for the champion at lightweight while negotiations began in earnest to make the championship match Erne had probably now doomed himself to fight.   If Erne had given the impression of handling Gans over six, he could perhaps postpone meeting him in a title fight indefinitely; now it seemed only a question of where and when.

By late March, all was known. The fight had found its way north of the border and into Canada. It made no difference to Erne, nor Gans, natural-born road-warriors both, where the fight might be fought; the Athletic Club at Fort Erie on May 12th was as good a spot as any, three thousand dollars guaranteed ending the argument. Gans celebrated by dusting Jack Bennett in three; Erne, who had stopped Curley Supples (better known for wrestling) and then exercised himself over the six-round distance against Gus Gardner earlier in the month, eschewed further combat and settled into training.

Some of that training took place at his father’s Lewiston farm where his mother once more took control of training camp logistics. His final training base was planned for Niagara, but the improvised camp did not agree with Erne; he returned to Buffalo and the Rose Street gym he called home. He trained before pressmen who were suitably impressed.

“I feel a hundred percent, better than I ever did before,” Erne replied in questions to his condition.

Erne sparred three rounds with chief second Frank Zimpfer, then shadowboxed. “To say that Erne is faster on his feet than ever before,” reported The Courier, “is only giving him partial credit. Erne’s puzzling and wonderful footwork, if nothing else, is bound to give Gans trouble.”

“They tell me Joe is working like a Trojan,” offered Erne. “Well he can’t be in better shape than he was the night we clashed in New York…I think Gans will play a rushing game. I rather expect him to fight fast from the gong.”

Gans was indeed “working like a Trojan” down in Leiperville, Pennsylvania; Terry McGovern, clearly bearing no grudges over the considerable fallout from their contest, had done some sparring with Gans and then loudly picked him to defeat Erne. Gans always sought out serious sparring partners and much of his work had been done with the wonderful Young Peter Jackson and Herman Miller, who had himself boxed a pair of draws with Dobbs. Al Herford, Joe’s manager, expressed his satisfaction at the condition of his charge and that all their claims upon Erne and the title would evaporate with a loss. For Gans, it was to be now or not at all.

He arrived in Fort Erie forty-eight hours before bell, around the same time as professional gamblers began pouring into town. Odds were in his favour, barely, though they had been fluctuating since the fight was made and would continue to do so until first bell: Gans, evens, Erne, and back, though never was the difference vast.

“A bet on me will get the money,” Gans told The Courier. “I will lick Erne sure. He beat me once, but it was an unfortunate accident. He couldn’t do it again in twenty years.”

Erne disagreed. “I’ll still be lightweight champion of the world Tuesday morning,” he said. “I will knock out Gans in ten rounds or win the decision at the end of twenty.”

There was some concern in print over the moral certitude of the combatants. Between them they had a quit job, a fake and a no-show in just two short years; overwhelmingly though there was excitement, the type that only a true superfight can engender. The Courier was enthusiastic concerning their hometown fighter’s condition to the point of sycophancy:

“That Erne is in the best of physical condition is a foregone conclusion. He is in better shape at present than he ever was before. Erne of tomorrow night will not be the same Erne of two months ago. He is down to weight, fast as a colt, his skin is rugged, his eyes are bright, and flash like a panther’s. His wind is perfect, his hands are sounder than ever before, and, in general, he is the same Erne who won the championship from “Kid” Lavigne some three years ago. Erne is hitting harder and faster now than he ever did in his life.”

And even where past transgressions were to the fore, as they were in The Chicago Inter Ocean, Gans may have remained a “despicable human being” but was nevertheless an “ugly and dangerous ring partner…it behooves you to watch him closely.”

Gans was first to the ring, “as lean as a wolf hound” according to The Buffalo Review; Erne did not make him wait, arriving only minutes later appearing “trained to the hour.” The crowd stood in preference of Erne but Gans not without his backers. One by one, Kid Parker, Kid McPartland, Art Sims and George McFadden presented themselves and their challenges  – more fighters issued challenges to one another. The weights of the two principals were announced, Gans just under 134lbs, Erne just under 133lbs. At 9:49pm the two shook hands.  At 9:41pm Frank Erne writhed on the canvas in a futile attempt to beat the count.

“After knocking at the door for ten years,” wrote The Brooklyn Eagle, “Joe Gans, the Baltimore lightweight colored pugilist, at last is the lightweight champion of the world.”

“The knockout punch was so clever,” continued The Washington Post, “so sudden, so unexpected and so quick that even Gans and referee Charley White stood motionless for an instant, staring at the form of Erne as he lay on his stomach, apparently unconscious.”

The two had emerged cautiously, sparring, each man trying to induce the lead, as they had in the first fight, a competition Gans had won. Here Erne seemed more determined, shifting, while Gans danced at the very edge of reach. Erne finally reached Gans with a right-hand punch, but it was at the very end of his reach and did no harm. If there was a warning shot for Erne this was it, a punch not thrown by Gans but by himself: at the full extent of his reach, he was both powerless and vulnerable. He needed to either commit to attack or commit to remaining at safe distance, he could not do both.

The first seriously landed punch was a Gans left, but a jab, as if in portent though it drew blood from Erne’s nose. Both men were trying to feint each other out of position but Gans, just as he had been in the first fight, was the man controlling the distance. It was Erne that had to take action to close that distance, to change the pattern of the fight, and here he did so, stepping in with a punch.

“Erne feinted with his right,” saw The New York Evening World, “and as he did so Gans also feinted with the same hand. Erne, evidently thinking that Gans was going to swing for his jaw, ducked, and as he did so Gans sent in a short but terrific right jolt under Erne’s left guard. The blow landed with terrible force on Erne’s nose, mouth and chin.”

The punch was an uppercut, whipped straight through the Erne guard. He collapsed face-first to the canvas, some descriptions having him tangle with Gans as he fell.

The Washington Times takes up the story:

“The six thousand or more men in the arena were simply petrified with amazement. For the first three seconds not a single person moved or spoke. Then of a sudden a mighty cheer burst forth.  Men jumped to their feet and surged towards the ring.”

The Inter Ocean provided the tragic details of Erne’s desperate struggle:

“One, two, three, and Erne’s quivering body stretched out. Four, five, and he partly raised himself on one arm, only to roll over on his face at the count of six. Seven, and Erne, with a game effort, worked his hands under him. Eight, nine and out.”

Gans had won in a hundred seconds.

“Did he knock me out?” demanded Erne as he was carried to his corner by his seconds and then began to weep. Gans was hoisted into the air and carried from the ring.

There was some bad feeling associated with the result. Some talk of a “lucky punch” reached the ears of Al Herford who marched his charge out of town early the following day, resulting in Frank Erne, this time, being stood up, as he arrived in town for a meeting with Herford the following morning to discuss a potential rematch. Herford claimed Gans was keen to be reunited with his wife, “his fourth” sniffed a clearly pained writer for The Buffalo Evening News.

Those seeing a lucky punch included Terry McGovern who was ringside but a lightweight named Joe Leonard, the instructor at the Buffalo boxing gym, was also ringside, and gave a more thoughtful perspective:

“I was close to the ring,” said Leonard, “and I had a good view of the doings. I also noticed that Gans, in stepping in with his final punch, pivoted partly around on his knee – just as I have seen Kid McCoy do. That put additional force in the blow. I have seen a good many fights, but never before did I see anyone show such fine generalship as did Gans in feinting Frank into that angle where he had him dead to rights. Erne fell into the trap easily and Gans was there with one of the cleverest punches I ever saw delivered.”

Whether a lucky punch or a masterful trap, there was no doubting the result, nor the winner.  Erne would never fight for the world title again – though he did fight for something called the “white” world title.  Gans, the first man of colour to lift the lightweight championship was about to become the fightingist champion of any weight in the short history of boxing.

His first defence would see the end of a war fought in numerous chapters, stretching back to the summer of 1899.

This series was written with the support of boxing historian Sergei Yurchenko.  His work can be found here.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

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Amanda Serrano and Jake Paul Vanquish Overmatched Foes in Tampa

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Amanda “the Real Deal” Serrano mowed through knockout puncher Stevie Morgan in less than two rounds on Saturday and Jake Paul soundly defeated bare knuckle champion Mike Perry by knockout too.

Paul and Serrano move on to bigger things.

“It’s feels great, it feels amazing. My 50th fight, my 31st knockout, I’m super blessed,” said Serrano.

Despite jumping up three weight divisions Serrano (47-2-1, 31 KOs) showed more than 17,000 fans and Morgan (14-2, 13 KOs) at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, how she was able to win seven weight divisions.

Fans and perhaps Katie Taylor breathed a sigh of relief that Serrano is truly back. In Serrano’s last fight she was forced to withdraw back in March due to an accident to her eye moments before a fight. Now the Puerto Rican and Irish super stars will meet in Texas on November 15.

Fans can expect a rematch of one of the greatest fights of all time.

Tonight, before walking into the boxing ring, Morgan had commented that of all the top female fighters Serrano was low hanging fruit. The Puerto Rican legend merely shrugged her shoulders and replied that she lets her fists do the talking.

Both fighters hesitated touching gloves but did. After that, Serrano immediately went into assassin’s mode and moved forward while punching like a finely tuned hemi-engine. Morgan tried to keep up but discovered Serrano was not easy to hit.

Serrano moved forward smoothly while slipping and punching. A stiff looking Morgan, whose legs seemed unbent, tried to fend off the Puerto Rican champion’s blows but was smacked repeatedly in the first round with lefts and rights.

When the bell rang to end the first round, it was obvious that Morgan was overmatched.

As the second round commenced Serrano immediately slipped into attack gear behind her southpaw defensive guard. Once again, she fired combinations while moving quickly forward against the taller Morgan.

It was even worse than the first round as Serrano unloaded a dozen unanswered blows forcing the referee to stop the fight at 38 seconds of the second round.

“I think these girls were mistaking my kindness for weakness,” said Serrano. “If you’re not on my level that’s what happens.”

Morgan quickly learned she’s not on the championship level.

“Stevie Morgan just started a little while ago. I knew it would have been a little too much for her,” said Serrano. “My hat goes off to her. It’s not easy.”

Now it’s on to Katie Taylor.

Jake Paul KOs Mike Perry

In the co-main event Jake Paul (10-1, 7 KOs) floored Mike Perry (6-1) the Bare Knuckle Champion in the first and second round of the cruiserweight fight. And then battered the smaller fighter with a jolting jab to the body and head that opened up cuts on the former MMA fighter.

Paul continued to show improvement and proved once again that whether its MMA or Bare Knuckle fighting, his boxing skills are superior to their combat champions.

“Man, he’s tough as nails. I’m sorry it took so long. Respect man. He’s the king of violence,” said Paul about his fallen foe whose nickname is the “King of Violence.”

Paul attacked the body with a strong left jab while circling slowly left and right. Perry stood straight up with a low guard and his chin up. Paul hit that chin repeatedly and eventually cracked it in the fifth round.

Perry survived.

In the sixth round the bigger blonde fighter Paul bludgeoned Perry with another left jab and then opened with a barrage of blows that blasted the bare knuckle fighter to the canvas. Though he beat the count, he stumbled and the referee stopped the fight at 1:12 of the sixth round.

“I kind of expected that,” said Paul.

Perry was honest about the outcome.

“I tried man, but the kid hit me hard,” said Perry.

Now it’s on to Mike Tyson on November 15 in Arlington, Texas.

“Mike. I love you. But this is my sport now. I’m so honored but I’m going to take your throne.”

Other Bouts

A lightweight battle between undefeated fighters saw Canada’s Lucas Bahdi (17-0, 15 KOs) lose every round until he unloaded a three-punch combination that rendered Ashton Sylve (11-1, 9 KOs) unconscious before he hit the canvas.

Sylve utilized his speed and counters for five rounds and seemed to cruise for five years. But Bahdi showed a good chin especially against lightning uppercuts that sneaked through the guard.

“He’s very twitchy and very quick. I was trying to get to his body early on,” said Bahdi. “He’s very fast and has good counter punches.

In the sixth round Sylve was opening up a little more with his hands down and Bahdi saw the opening and quickly launched a right followed by a left hook that knocked out Sylve before he hit the floor at 2:27 of the sixth round.

“I knew his head’s there in the center all the time,” said Bahdi. “I think I stole the show tonight.”

Prelim Bouts

A rematch between lightweights saw Corey Marksman (10-0-1) win by majority decision against Tony Aguilar (12-1-1) in a back-and-forth battle. Marksman out-worked Aguilar with an especially effective counter-right that scored repeatedly. Their first encounter last February ended in a draw.

Shadasia Green (14-1, 11 KOs) stumbled a bit but got the win against Natasha Spence (8-5-2) to win by unanimous decision in a super middleweight. It was her first fight since losing to Franchon Crews-Dezurn for the world title.

Green was cruising for most of the fight behind a sharp jab and rights to the body but during an offensive out burst Spence caught her with a counter right and floored her in the seventh. It was half punch and half slip, but she was knocked down.

Though Green did not get a knockout she emerged with the win 78-73, 77-74 twice.

“I had fun in there tonight,” said Green. “I belong at the top with the best.”

Alexis Chaparro (2-0) knocked out Kevin Hill (1-2) with a five-punch combination at 2:01 of the second round in a middleweight fight.

Angel Barrientes (12-1) defeated Edwin Rodriguez (12-9-2) by majority decision after six rounds in a super bantamweight fight. The scores were 57-57, 60-54 twice for Barrientes who resides in Las Vegas.

Photo credit: Esther Lin / MVP Promotions

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Nakatani Strengthens his Pound-for-Pound Credentials: Blasts Out Astrolabio

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Junto Nakatani is the best 118-pound boxer in the world. Tonight, in Tokyo, he reinforced that judgment with a first-round knockout of Vincent Astrolabio at Japan’s national sumo arena. A short left to the solar plexus left the Filipino writhing on the canvas. He tried to rise but fell back down, forcing referee Tom Taylor to waive it off. It was all over in less than three minutes, 2:37 to be precise. Nakatani (28-0, 21 KOs) was making the first defense of his WBO bantamweight title after previously winning title belts at 112 and 115.

Tall for the weight class at five-foot-seven-and-a-half, the 26-year-old Japanese southpaw produced his second highlight reel knockout in his last four fights. The first come in May of last year at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas where he scored a frightening, 12th-round one-punch knockout of Andrew Moloney.

Nakatani won’t have to travel far to unify the belt. The other three current bantamweight champions are also Japanese. Down the road, potentially, is a showdown with countryman Naoya Inoue. That match, should it transpire, would be the biggest domestic fight in Japanese boxing history. Astrolabio, who had been stopped only once previously and was making his second stab at a world title, declined to 18-5.

Other Title Fight

LA’s Anthony Olascuaga, a stablemate of Nakatani (both train in LA under the tutelage of Rudy Hernandez), won the vacant WBO flyweight title with a third-round stoppage of Riku Kanu. A left uppercut put Kano (22-5) on the deck for the full count. The official time was 2:50 of round three.

Olascuaga (7-1, 5 KOs) was rucked out of obscurity in April of last year when he dropped down a weight class and performed far better than expected, albeit in a losing effort, against Kenshiro Teraji, a fight that he took on 10 days’ notice. Despite his inexperience and the locale, the LA fighter entered the ring a consensus 3/1 favorite over Kanu.

Also

In his first 10-rounder, ever-improving Tenshin Nasukawa (4-0, 2 KOs) stopped U.S. invader Jonathan Rodriguez in the third round. Five unanswered punches climaxed by a straight left ended matters at the 1:49 mark. The bout was contested at a catchweight of 120 pounds.

Nasukawa, a baby-faced, 25-year-old southpaw, transitioned to boxing after becoming famous in Japan for his kickboxing exploits. His first foray into boxing was an exhibition with Floyd Mayweather who knocked him out in the opening round, but he’s made considerable progress since then.

Against Rodriguez, Nasakawa was dominant from the get-go. Rodriguez was in dire straits as the second round ended. The first fighter from Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley to fight in Japan, Rodriguez (17-3-1) joins the ranks of one-hit wonders. He scored a shocking first-round KO of former title-holder Khalid Yafai, but then lost his very next fight en route to this affair.

The promotion lost a bit of luster when the title fight between WBO 115-pound belt-holder Kosei Tanaka and Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Rodriguez (no relation to Nasukawa’s opponent of the same name) fell out when Rodriguez weighed a staggering six pounds over the limit.

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Results and Recaps from Fantasy Springs where Rocha Topped Dominguez

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Ringside Report by TSS Special Correspondent Raymundo Dioses…INDIO, CA – Alexis Rocha faced off against undefeated Santiago Dominguez and earned a hard-fought unanimous decision win for the NABO welterweight title on July 19, 2024 at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in a live event presented by DAZN.  The 10-round fight featured plenty of action on a hot night where temperature hit 111 degrees in the Southern California desert.

Rocha, (25-2, 16 KOs) looked to time Dominguez early on and began to throw in combinations leading to his impressive win. Dominguez would press Rocha against the ropes seeking some shots of his own in a fight which swayed back and forth until Rocha was able to find a late rhythm towards the end of the bout.

Rocha began to back up Dominguez, (27-1, 20 KOs) with shots and catch openings while on the inside, with Dominguez steadily slowing from the effects of Rocha’s shots. Rocha kept his hands busy and would catch Dominguez when he would step outside of range, and he began to control the middle of the ring and the terms of the fight as the bout progressed.

Judge Fernando Villareal had it 98-92 while Carla Caiz and Pat Russell scored the bout 99-91 for Rocha, who now finds himself in title contention in the 147-pound division.

“I wanted to show everyone that I’m not just a banger, I can use my IQ in there and that’s what I needed,” said  Rocha. “I knew Dominguez was going to come forward, he just keeps coming, so that’s what I wanted to show. It’s more about my brains from now on. I want to be very aware in the ring, and I want to use my brains. That’s all you’re going to see moving forward. I have a great team behind me, Golden Boy, and we’re just going to see what’s next. I’m right there. I’m knocking on the door still. The belts are gonna be open anytime soon, so I’m just knocking on the door right now.”

The fighters utilized combinations effectively and often, landing on even terms until Rocha found his timing in the second half of the fight and sealed the win.  A solid left hook from Rocha paused Dominguez in his tracks as Rocha began to close in and slow the return fire from Dominguez.

A one-two combination to the chin landed for Dominguez to begin the seventh round. The action moved to center ring with the fighter’s trading shots which got the fans cheering.  Rocha threw a combination and landed a straight-right hand which was effective throughout the contest.

A combination of punches nearly had Dominguez down in the later rounds yet Dominguez would bounce back and punch Rocha to the ropes. There was more middle ring trading as the fight unfolded and both fighters would find offense with Rocha getting the better of the action.

Rocha often fought through a jab to the head and body of Dominguez.  A head-body combination worked for Rocha, and one-two combinations followed by body shots came from Rocha who was making headway as the more offensively scoring fighter.

Time was called by referee Ray Corona in the final round as Dominguez was punched on the leg, and once the action resumed a series of trading resulted in Rocha landing the last punch. Rocha not only landed at will in the last half of the fight, he began to make Dominguez miss and matters ended after ten completed rounds with the fighters throwing as the ten second bell ticked.

Rocha, the youngest fighter to win a gold medal at the junior Olympics at age 14, began his pro career in 2016 fighting under the Golden Boy Promotions banner and the Californian went 16-0 before losing to Rashidi Ellis in October 2020.  Rocha would not lose again until three years later in an all-California match-up against Giovani Santillan in October 2023.  He is the younger brother of former world title challenger Ronny Rios.

Rocha would lose the Santillan fight via knockout loss, yet the new NABO titleholder had a bounce-back win in March 2024 over Frederick Lawson leading into the Dominguez fight.

CO-FEATURE

The nights co-main event saw Gregory Morales, (17-1, 9 KOs) defeat Jayvon Garnett over 10 rounds after a fast start, slow ending type fight in the featherweight division.

Round one was a feeler type affair for both combatants with each fighter seeking to gain ground. The pot-shotting continued into the second round until Morales, who last fought to a decision win on the January 2024 Jaime Munguia-John Ryder tilt in Arizona, was able to put his punches together via combinations.

Garnett landed a combination of his own to begin rounds two and three, and Cincinnati, Ohio’s Garnett proceeded to let his hands go as round three wore on. Busy hands lead to good things in the boxing ring. The fight then swung slightly in Morales’ favor at the 10-second mark of the round with a few punches followed by an audible body shot.

The body shots thrown with both hands continued from Morales in round four which Garnett taunted as non-effective. Morales marched forward and resumed his body attack. Garnett kept busy midway through the fight yet Morales kept composed and pressed forward despite the offense of Garnett. A big shot came from Garnett which did not faze Morales in the sixth round and Morales was able to answer as the round ended.

The action dulled in round seven with fighter fatigue setting in. Morales was finally able to back up Garnett (10-2, 5 KOs) in the eighth round with right hands and in the ninth Morales continued to press Garnett against the ropes. Shots were landed from both fighters near the end of the round.

The final frame was a ‘who wants it more’ type of three minutes with the fighters each wanting to either score a stoppage or win a pivotal round on the judge’s scorecards. The round ended with respect as the fighter’s traded pleasantries after trading blows for 10 rounds.

Scorecards were 96-94, 98-92 and 99-91 all for Morales.

COACHELLA’S FLORES REMAINS UNDEFEATED WITH KO OVER MEZA

The Coachella Valley’s hot prospect Grant Flores scored an impressive stoppage win over Juan Meza in a super welterweight fight.

At the outset Flores, (6-0, 5 KOs) timed Meza well, gauging the distance of his opponent which led to a stirring right hand to end the first round. Flores rocked Meza again in the second round and Meza showed signs of fatigue. Fiery right hands rocked Meza into the red corner and after a few more shots referee Ray Corona had seen enough and waved off the fight at 1:54 of round two.

At a ripe age of 19, Flores is trained by noted trainer Joel Diaz and impressively fought just three weeks ago at the same venue, registering a knockout over Josias Gonzalez on the June 27, 2024 Golden Boy Fight Night card.

CHAVEZ DEFEATS KITANI IN FIGHT OF THE NIGHT

In a tightly contested featherweight matchup Jorge Chavez, (12-0, 8 KOs) and Riku Kitani earned fight of the night honors in their entertaining six-round featherweight bout which resulted in a decision win for Chavez.

The fist throwers battled on even terms and lived up to the featherweight division way of punches in bunches. The action was mostly in the middle of the ring with each fighter connecting and trading.  Each three-minute round was used as a battleground for the fighters.

A clash of heads midway through the fight briefly stopped the action in round four. Chavez threw the classic one-two combination throughout the fight, yet Kitani, (8-3, 3 KOs) would answer with shots of his own.  Referee Raymond Armendariz had the fighters tap each other’s gloves to begin the final round which saw Chavez stalk and land, and Kitani counter-punch in a fight that ended with cheers from the crowd.

Scores were all for Chavez at 60-54.

HOMETOWN FAVORITE LUA WOWS CROWD WITH KO OVER OLGUIN

In the opening televised bout, Indio, California native Bryan Lua, (10-0, 5 KOs) dominated late notice opponent Diuhl Olguin with fast hands and solid ring generalship in what resulted in a knockout victory. The confident Desert product bruised his opponent up with lead right hands and uppercuts.

Lua cut the ring off well and landed at will against Olguin, who took the punishment well and even caught Lua with a right hand before the bell sounded to end round two. The ringside doctor took a look at a cut on Olguin before round three. The dominance continued in the third frame with Lua landing two straight body shots which slightly lifted Olguin off the canvas.

Another uppercut softened up Olguin late in round five which delighted the hometown crowd. Lua ran towards Olguin to begin the final round and pressed the action, ultimately scoring a stoppage win at 2:03 as Team Olguin decided to throw in the towel.

GUZMAN NOTCHES KNOCKOUT NO. 5 IN FIVE FIGHTS

Middleweight prospect Fabian Guzman, (5-0, 5 KOs) continued his knockout streak with a first-round stoppage over Las Vegas native Corey Cook.

Guzman started out tentative against his left-handed opponent, warmed up midway, then dropped Cook with a flush right hand which dropped Cook to a knee.  A 10-count ensued by referee Raymond Armendariz and Guzman was awarded the knockout at a recorded 2:14 of round one.

PHOENIX NATIVE IMPROVES TO 3-0

In the opening contest of the night Phoenix, Arizona native Juan Estrada impressed against opponent Dyllon Cervantes in a four-round fight.  Estrada, (3-0, 1 KO) threw effective combinations from the outset and worked both the body and the head throughout the bout.

End results of the fight were 40-36 all for Estrada.

DAZN commentators: Beto Duran, Sergio Mora

Fighters in Attendance: WBC Flyweight titlist Ricardo Sandoval, Bektemir Melikuziev  

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