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Ringside in San Diego Where William Zepeda Defeated Jojo Diaz

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SAN DIEGO-Mexico’s William Zepeda learned a lesson or two from the crafty former two-division world titlist Jojo Diaz and buzz-sawed his way to victory by unanimous decision in a lightweight showdown on Saturday.

Mexico City’s undefeated Zepeda (27-0, 23 KOs) took some bumps and bruises against the more experienced Diaz (32-3-1, 15 KOs) and showed more than 3,500 fans at Pechanga Arena that he can fight the elite lightweights.

Is he ready now?

Zepeda (pictured on the right) had rocketed up the lightweight ladder with a nonstop punching style that allowed him to steamroll almost every opponent. Against Diaz, it almost proved fatal when the former featherweight and super featherweight world titlist caught him with check right hooks. Zepeda wobbled but did not go down.

It was a great learning experience exchanging blows and counter measures against Diaz who was not about to be overrun by the younger Zepeda.

But Zepeda’s nonstop punching, though not always landing clean, was able to keep Diaz from setting up traps for the Mexico City fighter. Though Diaz had in several rounds, he just couldn’t muster enough power to score a knockdown. But his experience did provide a litmus test for Zepeda’s future.

He passed.

All three judges scored for Zepeda 119-109 twice and 118-110.

“I’m very happy for the victory,” said Zepeda. “We had confidence we could go in there and win.”

The win gives Zepeda a marquee win in the red hot lightweight division.

“We want to face the best in the division,” Zepeda said.

Female IBF World Title

Mexico’s Arely Mucino (32-3-2, 11 KOs) started the world title match quickly then held off Argentina’s Leonela Yudica’s (17-1-3) late charge to win the IBF flyweight title by split-decision. The San Diego crowd erupted into a roaring cheer when it was announced.

Though several early clash of heads caused a welt on the side of her left eye, Mucino continued to attack and put the pressure on the taller and more defensive Yudica. Things changed around the fifth when the Argentine champion began to open up.

Yudica countered with precise shots every time Mucino attacked with her body and head combinations. The swelling on Mucino’s eye continued to grow.

Just when it looked like Mucino was tiring, she found new energy in the seventh round to stop Yudica’s rally. It was just in time.

Though neither fighter was seriously hurt at any juncture, each absorbed hard blows the last three rounds of the fight. A knockdown could have changed the outcome but neither fighter was close to going down. After 10 rounds one judge saw it 96-94 Yudica, two others saw it 97-93 and 96-94 for Mucino. Once again, the Mexican fighter becomes flyweight world titlist. This was the second time Mucino has held the IBF version. She also held the WBC, WBA and WBO versions.

Sitting in the audience was unified WBA and WBC flyweight titlist Marlen Esparza and contender Sulem Urbina.

Other Bouts

Alexis Rocha (21-1, 13 KOs) knew little about Tijuana’s Jesus Perez (24-4, 18 KOs) but soon discovered he was in a fight for all 10 rounds. Still, he prevailed though he needed to survive the constant incoming fire from the very tough Mexican welterweight.

Rocha and Perez fought toe-to-toe Mexican style and after countless body shots, uppercuts and head snapping rights, it was the fighter from Southern California that won by unanimous decision: 100-89, 100-90 and 99-91. The scores don’t indicate how close and competitive every round was.

It was a fight to the finish that left the fans clapping at the end.

Dallas fighter Hector Valdez (16-0, 8 KOs) won a split decision over Max Ornelas (15-1-1, 5 KOs) to remain undefeated in a super bantamweight showdown after 10 rounds.

It was clash of different styles and saw Valdez win by putting constant pressure on the always elusive Ornelas of Las Vegas. Though Valdez was only effective when targeting the body, that was enough to convince two judges he was the victor. Two judges scored it 97-93 for Valdez and one saw it 97-93 Ornelas.

An entertaining super featherweight contest saw San Diego’s Jorge Chavez (4-0, 3 KOs) run into a one-two combination from Houston’s Adrian Leyva (3-4-2) in the first round. Chavez got up and then knocked down Leyva with his own right hand and down went the Texan. After that the two traded big blows but neither visited the canvas again. After six rounds Chavez was deemed the winner by unanimous decision 60-56, 59-55, 58-56.

Long Beach, Calif. fighter Japhethlee Llamido (10-0, 4 KOs) and Houston’s Adrian Leyva (3-4-2) opened up quickly with combinations. Llamido fired off a four-punch combination including a blistering left and that stunned Leyva. Llamido opened up even more and battered Leyva until referee Ray Corona stopped the super featherweight fight at 1:36 of the first round.

Mexico’s Jan Salvatierra (9-2, 4 KOs) survived a first-round knockdown from Robert Ledesma (3-9, 2 KOs) and then sped his way to victory winning the rest of the rounds to win by unanimous decision after four rounds in a flyweight match. Ledesma fights out of San Antonio, Texas. Salvatierra fights out of Los Cabos.

Hawaii’s Asa Stevens (3-0) floored San Diego’s debuting Mychaquell Shields (0-1) in the second round with a left cross and cruised to victory in a four-round featherweight fight between southpaws. Stevens showed experience and speed in his win. But Shields rallied late to make it interesting.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Mercito Gesta Victorious Over Jojo Diaz at the Long Beach Pyramid

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LONG BEACH, CA.-Those in the know knew Mercito Gesta and Jojo Diaz would be a fight to watch and they delivered.

Gesta emerged the winner in a super lightweight clash between southpaws that saw the judges favor his busier style over Diaz’s body attack and bigger shots and win by split decision on Saturday.

Despite losing the main event because the star was overweight, Gesta (34-3-3, 17 KOs) used an outside method of tactic to edge past former world champion Diaz (32-4-1, 15 KOs) in front of more than 5,000 fans at the Pyramid.

The speedy Gesta opened up the fight with combination punching up and down against the peek-a-boo style of Diaz. For the first two rounds the San Diego fighter overwhelmed Diaz though none of the blows were impactful.

In the third round Diaz finally began unloading his own combinations and displaying the fast hands that helped him win world titles in two divisions. Gesta seemed stunned by the blows, but his chin held up. The counter right hook was Diaz’s best weapon and snapped Gesta’s head back several times.

Gesta regained control in the fifth round after absorbing big blows from Diaz. He seemed to get angry that he was hurt and opened up with even more blows to send Diaz backpedaling.

Diaz targeted his attack to Gesta’s body and that seemed to slow down Gesta. But only for a round.

From the seventh until the 10th each fighter tried to impose their style with Gesta opening up with fast flurries and Diaz using right hooks to connect with solid shots. They continued their method of attack until the final bell. All that mattered was what the judges preferred.

After 10 rounds one judge saw Diaz the winner 97-93 but two others saw Gesta the winner 99-91, 98-92. It was a close and interesting fight.

“I was expecting nothing. I was the victor in this fight and we gave a good fight,” said Gesta. “It’s not an easy fight and Jojo gave his best.”

Diaz was surprised by the outcome but accepted the verdict.

Everything was going good. I thought I was landing good body shots,” said Diaz. “I was pretty comfortable.”

Other Bouts

Mexico’s Oscar Duarte (25-1-1, 20 KOs) knocked out Chicago’s Alex Martin (18-5, 6 KOs) with a counter right hand after dropping him earlier in the fourth round. The super lightweight fight was stopped at 1:14 of the round.

A battle between undefeated super welterweights saw Florida’s Eric Tudor (8-0, 6 KOs) emerge the winner by unanimous decision after eight rounds versus Oakland’s Damoni Cato-Cain.

The taller Tudor showed polished skill and was not bothered by a large cut on his forehead caused by an accidental clash of heads. He used his jab and lead rights to defuse the attacks of the quick-fisted southpaw Cato-Cain. The judges scored the fight 80-72 and 78-74 twice for Tudor.

San Diego’s Jorge Chavez (5-0, 4 KOs) needed less than one round to figure out Nicaragua’s Bryan Perez (12-17-1, 11 KOs) and send him into dreamland with a three-punch combination. No need to count as referee Ray Corona waved the fight over. Perez shot a vicious right followed by another right and then a see-you-later left hook at 3.00 of the first round of the super featherweight match.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Jojo Diaz’s Slump Continues; Mercito Gesta Prevails on a Split Decision

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At age 30, Jojo Diaz’s career is on the skids. The 2012 U.S. Olympian, a former world title holder at 126 and 130 pounds and an interim title holder at 135, Diaz suffered his third straight loss tonight, upset by Mercito Gesta who won a split decision at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, CA.. The scoring was strange with Gesta winning nine of the 10 rounds on one of the cards and only three rounds on another. The tie-breaker, as it were, was a 98-92 tally for Gesta and even that didn’t capture the flavor of what was a closely-contested fight.

Originally listed as a 12-rounder, the match was reduced to 10 and that, it turned out, did Diaz no favors. However, it’s hard to feel sorry for the former Olympian as he came in overweight once again, having lost his 130-pound title on the scales in February of 2021.

Diaz also has issues outside the ropes. Best elucidated by prominent boxing writer Jake Donovan, they include a cluster of legal problems stemming from an arrest for drunk driving on Feb. 27 in the LA suburb of Claremont.

With the defeat, Diaz’s ledger declined to 32-4-1. His prior losses came at the hands of Gary Russell Jr, Devin Haney, and William Zepeda, boxers who are collectively 83-2. Mercito Gesta, a 35-year-old San Diego-based Filipino, improved to 34-3-3.

Co-Feature

Chihuahua, Mexico super lightweight Oscar Duarte has now won nine straight inside the distance after stopping 33-year-old Chicago southpaw Alex Martin in the eighth frame. Duarte, the busier fighter, had Martin on the deck twice in round eight before the fight was waived off.

Duarte improved to 25-1-1 (20). Martin, who reportedly won six national titles as an amateur and was once looked upon as a promising prospect, declined to 18-5.

Other Bouts of Note

New Golden Boy signee Eric Tudor, a 21-year-old super welterweight from Fort Lauderdale, overcame a bad laceration over his right eye, the result of an accidental clash of heads in round four, to stay unbeaten, advancing to 8-0 (6) with a hard-fought unanimous 8-round decision over Oakland’s Damoni Cato-Cain. The judges had it 80-72 and 78-74 twice. It was the first pro loss for Cato-Cain (7-1-1) who had his first five fights in Tijuana.

In the DAZN opener, lanky Hawaian lightweight Dalis Kaleiopu went the distance for the first time in his young career, improving to 4-0 (3) with a unanimous decision over 36-year-old Colombian trial horse Jonathan Perez (40-35). The scores were 60-52 across the board. There were no knockdowns, but Perez, who gave up almost six inches in height, had a point deducted for a rabbit punch and another point for deducted for holding.

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‘Big Baby’ Wins the Battle of Behemoths; TKOs ‘Big Daddy’ in 6

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Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne weighed in at a career-high 277 pounds for today’s battle in Dubai with Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, but he was the lighter man by 56 pounds. It figured that one or both would gas out if the bout lasted more than a few stanzas.

It was a war of attrition with both men looking exhausted at times, and when the end came it was Miller, at age 34 the younger man by nine years, who had his hand raised.

Browne was the busier man, but Miller, whose physique invites comparison with a rhinoceros, hardly blinked as he was tattooed with an assortment of punches. He hurt ‘Bid Daddy’ in round four, but the Aussie held his own in the next frame, perhaps even forging ahead on the cards, but only postponing the inevitable.

In round six, a succession of right hands knocked Browne on the seat of his pants. He beat the count, but another barrage from Miller impelled the referee to intervene. The official time was 2:33. It was the 21st straight win for Miller (26-0-1, 22 KOs). Browne declined to 31-4 and, for his own sake, ought not fight again. All four of his losses have come inside the distance, some brutally.

The consensus of those that caught the livestream was that Floyd Mayweather Jr’s commentary was an annoying distraction that marred what was otherwise an entertaining show.

As for what’s next for “Big Baby” Miller, that’s hard to decipher as he has burned his bridges with the sport’s most powerful promoters. One possibility is Mahmoud Charr who, like Miller, has a big gap in his boxing timeline. Now 38 years old, Charr – who has a tenuous claim on a WBA world title (don’t we all?) —  has reportedly taken up residence in Dubai.

Other Bouts of Note

In a 10-round cruiserweight affair, Suslan Asbarov, a 30-year-old Russian, advanced to 4-0 (1) with a hard-fought majority decision over Brandon Glanton. The judges had it 98-92, 97-93, and a more reasonable 95-95.

Asbarov was 12-9 in documented amateur fights and 1-0 in a sanctioned bare-knuckle fight, all in Moscow, entering this match. He bears watching, however, as Glanton (18-2) would be a tough out for almost anyone in his weight class. In his previous fight, at Plant City, Florida, Glanton lost a controversial decision to David Light, an undefeated Australian who challenges WBO world title-holder Lawrence Okolie at Manchester, England next week.

A 10-round super featherweight match between former world title challengers Jono Carroll and Miguel Marriaga preceded the semi-windup. Carroll, a 30-year-old Dublin southpaw, overcame a cut over his left eye suffered in the second round to win a wide unanimous decision in a fairly entertaining fight.

It was the sixth straight win for Carroll (24-2-1, 7 KOs) who elevated his game after serving as a sparring partner for Devin Haney. Marriaga, a 36-year-old Colombian, lost for the fourth time in his last five outings, declining to 30-7.

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