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Every Joe Gans Lightweight Title Fight – Part 3: George “Elbows” McFadden

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This was the seventh meeting of the rival lightweights.  In all previous ones McFadden held his own, making a brave stand against the colored wonder. Since then, Joe Gans has been on the upgrade. – San Francisco Call, June 28, 1902.

Joe Gans celebrated winning the lightweight championship of the world by fighting. It was how he made money. As a rule, the bigger the fighter got and the whiter the fighter got, the more he might find himself making easy money in theatre and foregoing the ring. The likes of John Sullivan spent literally years milking the title in theatre productions that caused for little more in physical exertions than a pulled punch thrown at an over-awed actor. For an African-American champion in a lighter weight class, such opportunities were less common.

To see Joe Gans in the ring, though, the public would always pay.

Gans took four fights in two days back in Baltimore, all slated for four rounds, all victories inside the distance. One might sneer at the soft opposition but in fairness, they all managed to do more minutes than Frank Erne.

Real work was to begin though, and it came in a familiar form.

George “Elbows” McFadden, “a champion in any other era” according to Nat Fleischer, was a white lightweight who charged himself with a near impossible task in 1899: he set out to outfight not just Joe Gans, but Frank Erne and Kid Lavigne, too. He went 9-2-2 that year, and 2-2-1 against the trinity of Erne, Lavigne and Gans. He met Gans three times.

No lightweight has ever engaged a higher level of competition in a single year and although the likes of Harry Greb and Henry Armstrong probably had harder years overall, even in that company, McFadden’s 1899 is welcome.

Most extraordinary was his relative inexperience, remarked upon in the days before his first match with Gans. Boxrec sees him at 20-3-12; by contrast Gans had already amassed a record of at least 68-4-8. Most of all, McFadden was stepping up not by a single class, but by three, by five, out of the pack and into a ring that would birth a legitimate title contender.

“McFadden gave the most remarkable display of blocking ever seen in a local ring,” reported the Saint Paul Globe the morning following the fight. “Gans tried in every way to get in on the New-Yorker but was invariably stopped. If McFadden blocked with his left he sent his right to the body and sent the left to the face.”

McFadden, a defensive specialist, earned his nickname not for throwing his elbows, as might be expected, but rather as one who used them to pick off punches, a mobile guard that he used to protect his body, like a pioneering Winky Wright, but also his head, perhaps in an early incarnation of the cross-arm guard. “My elbows ensured their fists stayed away from my chin” was how McFadden himself put it. As an in-fighter and a counterpuncher, a fluid cross-arm guard deployed out of a crouch at close quarters makes sense, as ably demonstrated by Archie Moore some decades later. Whatever the specifics, McFadden relied heavily upon his defence in beating Joe Gans in their first meeting, on April 4th 1899.

McFadden was a slow starter. He never troubled Gans, really, in their six-round contests. Every time they contended over a longer distance though, McFadden made Gans miserable and never more so than in the first of their three New York contests. Once he achieved for himself a lead in the contest, he rarely let it slip. McFadden’s strategy was essentially to keep Gans physically close to him, buying his way in with his elite blocking and parrying, then being economical with his leads, minimising opportunities for Gans to punish him. It is an intimidating strategy and it worked for McFadden, forcing Gans to move continually. By the close of the 18th round of their first fight, Gans appeared tired to ringsiders. In the twenty-third, McFadden opened with two rights to the body and a left to face which visibly distressed Gans; McFadden then leapt upon him and delivered a right to the jaw followed by a hooked left to the chin and Gans was out.

McFadden, in his first fight at boxing’s highest level, had done what no man had done before and arguably what no man would ever legitimately do again until the very twilight of Joe’s career: he had knocked Joe Gans out.

Retrospectively, the enormity of this achievement cannot be overstated. Arguably, this is the best result under Marquis of Queensberry rules from the nineteenth century.

McFadden dropped a razor-thin decision to Frank Erne a month later and then met Gans in a rematch; this fight was close and not decisive. Gans worked left-handed, jabbing and hooking, McFadden pressured him and threw bodypunches. As the rounds progressed, Gans began the painful process of uncovering McFadden’s great weakness – an excessive reliance upon specific punches on offence. When he jabbed, it tended to be to the body; left-handed headshots seemed his shot of choice in clinches. Right-handed bodyshots, too, were expressly favoured, at least against Gans. The list of punches that required neutralisation was short. Having perhaps been unlucky not to be awarded a draw against Erne, in his second fight with Gans McFadden seems lucky to have received one, although he did pull out all the stops in an astonishing last round, fighting a stunned Gans “to a standstill” after being dropped himself in the twenty-fourth.

Gans finished the job he started in that second fight almost exactly three months later in the pair’s third meeting of the year, finally out-pointing McFadden over the twenty-five-round distance, but only after a difficult, bruising tussle. McFadden fought one of his most aggressive fights but despite great success to the body he was firmly outboxed by Gans who repeatedly tagged McFadden flush. “Elbows” confirmed his defensive prowess and punch resistance in seeing out the distance, but Gans had finally solved the McFadden problem. McFadden would manage another draw with Gans, over ten rounds in 1900, but he would never again defeat him.

McFadden’s 1899 performance, though, was astonishing. As well as defeating Gans and dropping the narrowest of decisions to Erne, he beat former champion Kid Lavigne, by knockout. Since, he had lost two six-round fights to Gans and one to Gus Gardner. He almost immediately rematched Gardner over a longer distance and won by disqualification. That his 1902 title shot against Gans was to be his only fight for a title is a testimony to the strength of the era. His continued absence from the Hall of Fame is an absurdity.

Although it would seem to make sense that the contender who most troubled Gans pre-title should be his first defence, the fight came about almost accidentally.

McFadden had a fight scheduled for San Francisco, but prospective opponent Jimmy Britt injured his hand; McFadden’s manager, Billy Roche, received a telegram inviting his charge instead to fight the newly crowned Joe Gans.

Although there are some stories that he was unhappy with the notion of yet another fight with Gans, McFadden accepted. He would fight anyone, and in the days of the colour-line appeared never once to have thought about it. Whatever the race or size of the prospective opponent, McFadden’s reply only ever concerned remuneration, although it should be admitted that McFadden may have preferred Britt. For his own part, Gans had “established a precedent for American pugilists to ponder” in meeting McFadden, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, “one of the hardest propositions of his weight now in the game. Gans is not an actor, nor does not care to shine in any place but the ring.”

Both men were primarily motivated by money, but their willingness should not be overlooked.  Gans-McGovern VII was on.

McFadden arrived in San Francisco on the 9th of June 1902; Gans was just a few days behind him.  Gans was remarkably confident for a man who had previously been knocked out by his opponent, although as was almost always the case pre-fight, much of his talking was done by manager Al Herford.

If talk was cheap then the public were buying; Gans was made a significant favourite in the betting, which would nevertheless remain light. Herford was disgusted at the odds. “I think Gans will win sure,” he told pressmen, “but I have been at the ringside every one of the six times they have come together before and I know it is not a 2 to 1 bet that my man will win.”

As far as I can tell, the two-thousand dollars he wished to wager remained in his pocket.

“The fight will take place at Woodward’s Pavilion,” reported the San Francisco Examiner. “Both men are reported to be in splendid shape and should the contest be honestly fought those who attend will doubtless be treated to a boxing exhibition of the highest order.”

As we saw in Part Two, however, Chicago cast a long shadow.

“Unfortunately,” continued the Examiner, “…the remembrance of shady transactions in the career of Joe Gans have incurred a feeling of doubt in the minds of ring patrons that is difficult to remove. Of his several notorious fakes, the one with Terry McGovern in Chicago, on December 13, 1900, stands out from all the rest, and is still fresh in the memory of those familiar with his record.”

McFadden declared himself in the finest of condition; the Examiner agreed “his general appearance denotes the truth of his words.”

His general appearance, perhaps, was deceptive; then again, perhaps Gans really had improved beyond measure between 1899, when these two were marked as equals, and 1902 when Gans made himself forever McFadden’s superior. The fight was neither close nor difficult, but it nevertheless divided onlookers: was it real, or had Gans once again been involved in a fixed fight?

The wire report was both succinct and in essence tells the reader all they needed to know about the action as it occurred:

“The fight was an unsatisfactory one.  In the first two rounds McFadden was slow and did nothing but block. In the third, Gans landed a stiff left on the jaw, following it with a right in the same place, putting McFadden out.”

The devil though, as always, is in the detail. First and foremost, it must be noted that McFadden often started slowly and with an emphasis on defence and this was not uncommon when he met Gans. McFadden appeared to feel his way into fights in order to achieve his best results, which is why he had given Gans such terrible trouble over the longer distance. McFadden waiting and blocking was not unusual but drew ire in the light of the early stoppage.

 The Chronicle saw a legitimate fight, but a deeply unsatisfying one.

“Gans was declared the winner of the whatever the bout may be called,” ran the story on page four the day after the match, “certainly not a fight, for it takes two men to fight; perhaps assault would fit the case better.”

The Call, too, called it above board but below par:

“There is not the slightest possibility of the fight being a “fake” in the sense of being prearranged. It was simply an unfortunate match, which looked well on paper, only to prove a fizzle when the men faced one another in the ring.”

But the Examiner saw a different fight.

Under the headline “Sporting Public Swindled by Another Fake Fight” it printed that “The farce was kept up for three rounds…[t]here was not at any stage of the game enough pretence of fighting to delude the spectators. Before the first round was half over they began crying, “Fake! Fake!” These cries increased as the exhibition progressed, McFadden never letting go a blow that was intended to hurt and Gans declining to punch his opponent’s waiting jaw when it was held up to him.”

In the following days, the Examiner worked hard to source proof of a fake but to no end.  They pushed referee Phil Wand right to the edge of agreement; he claimed calling the fight a farce would be “charitable” but saw no evidence of collusion. The Examiner is a minority report and although it cannot be dismissed, it should be noted that Gans had his enemies in San Francisco, not necessarily without reason but perhaps neither without bias.

Herford, concerned with the accusations against his charge, astonished the Examiner into begrudging retreat when he appeared at the newspaper’s offices with a thousand dollars in cash, the equivalent of thirty thousand today, offering it as a forfeit should anyone produce evidence of a fake. “It is not likely that anyone will accept Herford’s offer” concluded the Examiner.

Nevertheless, the stink was such that Hayes Valley Athletic Club announced that it would be withholding the fighter’s purses “until it was clearly shown that the fight was not a fake.”

Little more than a week later, George Siler, writing in the Chicago Sunday Tribune, reported an end to the matter:

“After a thorough investigation, in which every known angle was gone over carefully, the managers of the Hayes Valley athletic club, under whose auspices Joe Gans and George McFadden recently battled, concluded the above-named fight was strictly on the level. The cry of “fake” which went floating over the country immediately after the fight was caused by two reasons: One because McFadden was supposed to give Gans a terrific battle, and the other because the colored champion had been engaged in shady ring transactions.”

This, it seems to me, is exactly what happened. McFadden always gave Gans a fight and his shocking capitulation in combination with the controversy connected to the McGovern fight led to a response in fight fans that will not be unfamiliar to modern followers of the game. The simple truth was that the champion had improved since 1899, had gone from a fighter losing in a disorganised headclash in twelve to Frank Erne, to one who had destroyed the reigning champion in just seconds.  McFadden was being crushed as a part of the same ghost-wave that had drowned Erne.

“Gans,” stated the Call, “with his marvellous ability as a boxer, was all over McFadden from the first moment.”

“It seemed the fight would not last one round when Gans sent a right and left to the head, followed by another right that seemed capable of felling an ox,” the report continued. “He kept this rapid fire up for nearly a minute and it was a miracle McFadden did not succumb to it. At times it seemed Gans did not take advantage of all his chances.”

The Call was on hand, and we, unfortunately, were not, to see what reads like a seminal performance from one of the ten greatest fighters ever to draw breath. Therefore, we must take seriously the diagnosis of a failure in Gans to take advantage of all his opportunities. Nevertheless, it must be remembered what McFadden was, however one-sided the fight: a defensive specialist with years of experience, including nearly one-hundred rounds against Gans himself.

The Chronicle was near despairing in describing round two:

“Gans hit his man at will and without return. Twice the white man hit the floor. Neither time did he take the count. In fact, he seemed as though in a trance, and, when he arose, made no effort to protect himself.”

To a modern eye it wills seem clear that McFadden had been concussed by the vicious attack in the first. Even after the fight, McFadden remained alarmingly non-responsive.

“McFadden could hardly speak,” ran one report of his condition in his dressing room. “He had to be shaken roughly to get a word out of him.”

It may not be an exaggeration to say that his life was in danger as prime Joe Gans, as terrifying a pound-for-pound incarnation as had been seen in the ring, stalked him throughout the third, showing little in the way of mercy.

“Gans punished McFadden terribly,” wrote the Call of the third and final round. “He knocked him clean off his feet with a right to the jaw. McFadden was no sooner up than he was knocked down again. He was up again and staggered to the center of the ring. He tried to hang on, but the elusive Gans seemed never where he expected to find him. McFadden was knocked down twice before the end of the round.”

As the final seconds of the third round approached, McFadden second George Tuthill perched himself ringside and prepared to throw the sponge. As McFadden was battered around the ring. he tossed it, signalling the end of the massacre and of McFadden’s time as a contender to the title. In his future, still, there were impressive performances against the likes of Mike Sullivan and Patsy Sweeney, but never again would he reach the heights he displayed in achieving the result of KO23 Joe Gans.

Some years later, after his forty-two-round battle with Battling Nelson in Goldfield, someone asked Joe Gans if this had been his toughest fight. “No sir,” he replied. “Bat is tough, but I met a tougher fellow than him. That fellow was George McFadden.”

As an epitaph, it is far from displeasing.

The noise surrounding the purported fix was such that what Gans had achieved was obscured. Six weeks apart, he had smashed Frank Erne, champion, out of title honours in a round and then destroyed a chief contender and his chief rival from his pre-title days in three. Neither man had lain a meaningful glove upon him. My position is that Joe Gans boxed the greatest championship reign in all of boxing built primarily of dominance and over exceptional opposition, opposition better than that of other, numerically comparable reigns.

I will prove that to you over the coming weeks.

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

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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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