WOODLAND, Calif. — Saturday night, from the Woodland Community Senior Center, 2004 U.S. Olympian Vicente Escobedo fought in his hometown for the first time in his 28-bout career, as he met Lonnie Smith of Las Vegas in the ten-round main event of TeleFutura’s Solo Boxeo.
Escobedo made it a successful homecoming, dismantling Smith in the 1st round, dropping him three times before the fight was waved off.
Escobedo (24-3, 14 KOs) came into the fight at 129 pounds, which marks the lightest he had ever weighed for a fight in his run as a professional. It marked his second fight in a row in the junior lightweight division, where Escobedo hoped to bring new life to his career after previous failed attempts at breaking through at the world level in the lightweight division.
“Better late than never,” said an elated Escobedo following the win. “I didn’t have any problems getting down to 130 and there’s a new Escobedo at this weight.”
Smith found a home for his jab to begin the fight as he decided to box with Escobedo rather than pressure him. Escobedo landed a solid left hook-right hand combination right on the sweet spot that dropped Smith in a heap. Smith gamely got to his feet and was promptly put down a second time. After returning to his feet again, Escobedo cornered Smith and landed another flurry, this time trapping Smith in between the ropes before landing another series of brutal shots that finished Smith for good. Referee Dan Stell waved off the fight at 2:20 in the opening round.
Smith (14-2-2, 10 KOs), who turned 25 on the day of the fight, was riding a nine-bout winning streak into his first televised headliner. The son of former WBC 140-pound titlist Lonnie Smith and nephew of Hall of Fame light heavyweight Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Smith, 130, was making his 10-round debut after having previously maxed out at the six-round scheduled limit.
With the victory, Escobedo now has a claim to being one of the United States’ best junior lightweights behind WBO beltholder Adrien Broner of Cincinnati, Ohio and budding contender Diego Magdaleno of Las Vegas. A fight with Broner was reportedly in the cards if Escobedo emerged victorious.
“It was the right hand, and it is something we’ve been working on,” said Escobedo. “We found that I wasn’t throwing it the right way, so we went and fixed some things and that’s what happened tonight.
“I’m really surprised. I was expecting a tough fight,” he said. “Lonnie is a good, young fighter and I thought I was going to go some rounds tonight, but I caught him with the right hand. I’m surprised he got up.”
Golden Boy bantamweight prospect Manuel Avila (6-0, 2 KOs), of nearby Fairfield, Calif., easily decisioned novice Montebello, Calif.’s David Reyes (2-1) in their scheduled six-round co-feature attraction.
Avila, 118, turns twenty next month and caught the eye of the Los Angeles based promoter as an amateur and signed with them prior to turning pro in November 2010. Avila has now appeared on Solo Boxeo five times in his first seven professional bouts.
Reyes, 120, was unable to reverse his luck from the last time these two met in October of last year. The fight was a rematch of their bout that saw Avila come away with a four-round split-decision on the untelevised undercard of Bernard Hopkins versus Chad Dawson from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Avila was just too skilled as Reyes only found success when he attacked without fear for his own safety. Avila dictated the pace and forced Reyes to move, particularly after a cut was opened up near his right eye early in the fight. Scores were 60-54 twice and 59-55 for Avila. TQBR scored it 60-54 for Avila.
Unbeaten middleweight Dmitry Chudinov of Serpukhov, Russia fought Paul Mendez of Delano, Calif. to a majority draw in what looked to be the most competitive fight on paper heading in.
Chudinov worked the body early and often, while Mendez tried keeping the fight in the middle of the ring. Chudinov largely outworked Mendez, who had his moments.
When Chudinov forced Mendez to the ropes, he dominated the fight. When Mendez was able to keep Chudinov out of his range, he was able to land flashy combinations. More often than not, Mendez was bullied to the ropes where he mostly covered up while Chudinov landed a variety of power shots.
Chudinov (6-0-1, 3 KOs), 159 ½, was fighting for only the second time after a more than eighteen month layoff, having been a casualty of the unexpected folding of Las Vegas based TKO Boxing Promotions back in July 2010. Chudinov looked like he shook the rust off well compared to his fight against Tony Hirsch in December.
Mendez (7-2-1, 2 KOs), 166, was a winner in five of his last six, his only loss being a disputed six-round split decision to James Parison in September of last year in a Solo Boxeo televised co-feature. The official scores were 57-57 twice and 58-56 for Chudinov. TQBR scored it 59-55 for Chudinov.
San Francisco, Calif. junior welterweight Jonathan Chicas (4-0, 3 KOs), 140, kept up his winning ways, defeating Ephraim Martinez (4-1, KO), 137, of Buttonwillow, Calif. via majority decision in their scheduled four-round bout.
Chicas had to work much harder than expected against the naturally smaller Martinez, who previously has campaigned as a bantamweight and super bantamweight. In the opening round, Chicas more or less controlled the action with his boxing ability. In the 2nd round, both fighters began to open up a bit more and Martinez’s wider shots began to find the mark. Martinez was the busier fighter while Chicas was more accurate. In the third, the fight became a slugfest as both began landing power shots almost at will. In the fourth, Chicas tried boxing early but was overwhelmed late by Martinez’s volume right up until the final bell. The official scores were 38-38, overruled by two 39-37 verdicts for Chicas. TQBR scored the bout 39-38 in favor of Martinez.
In the opening bout, a battle of two Sacramento, Calif. based light heavyweights, Harry Gopaul (1-2, KO) scored a dramatic come-from-behind 2nd round stoppage of Payton Boyea (0-1).
After being dropped in the opening minute of the 1st round, Gopaul weathered the storm and made it to the bell, despite being staggered by a number of left hooks. It was evident from the beginning of the 2nd that Boyea had spent a lot of his energy looking for the knockout and was seemingly gassed. Gopaul took advantage, and landed a couple of big shots early in the round, specifically a left hook that had Boyea reeling. Somewhere in the melee, a bad gash opened up above the left eye of Boyea.
Boyea then was pushed to the ropes, where Gopaul unleashed a fierce attack, finally stiffening Boyea through the middle ropes, where he then was knocked out of the ring. Referee Edward Collantes ruled it a slip, but it wouldn’t factor into the result as Boyea was quickly dispatched after he returned to his feet. Boyea gamely made it to his feet, but Collantes intelligently stopped the fight at 2:02 of the round.
Boyea, 172, was making his professional debut and has the distinction of being managed and trained by former three-division titleholder Tony “The Tiger” Lopez. Gopaul, 174 ¼, secured his first win.
The card was promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Don Chargin Productions in association with Paco Presents, and was sponsored by Cerveza Tecate.