Junior featherweight world titlist Leo Santa Cruz retained his belt with ease as he blasted out Manuel Roman with a single right hand in the second round on Saturday night at the MGM Grand.
Fighting in the co-feature of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana rematch, Santa Cruz (28-0-1, 16 KOs), a former bantamweight titlist before vacating that belt to move up in weight, retained his title for the third time.
Roman (17-3-3, 6 KOs) used to be one of Santa Cruz’s sparring partners and was not qualified to be in a world title fight. He was boxing in his first scheduled 12-round fight, has had only two 10-rounders and has been mainly fighting six- and eight-round fights.
Santa Cruz made Roman look like he didn’t belong in the ring with him, winning the first round with a steady diet of hard punches and then dusting Roman with a right hand to the chin in the second round. Roman went down on his back and referee Robert Byrd counted him out at 55 seconds.
“I threw the right and caught him just like we practiced,” Santa Cruz said. “I worked hard in the gym to make it easy in the ring.”
Said Roman: “I got caught cold with a right. He just caught me. What can I say.”
Santa Cruz said he wants to fight a top opponent next and called out unified 122-pound champion Guillermo Rigondeaux.
“I did my job. That’s what I came for,” Santa Cruz said. “I’m not scared of anyone. I want Rigondeaux and I want my manager [Al Haymon] to make the fight to show I am the best.”
Bey upsets Vazquez
In a fight every bit as bad as expected, Mickey Bey (21-1-1, 10 KOs) pulled a major upset by winning a split decision and a lightweight world title from Miguel Vazquez (34-4, 13 KOs), who was making his seventh defense.
Judge Robert Hoyle had it 119-109 for Bey and Julie Lederman also had it for him, 115-113, while Adalaide Byrd had it 115-113 for Vazquez, whose 13-fight winning streak came to an end.
“I’m No. 1 in the lightweight division,” said Bey, who added that he hurt his right hand. “He was No. 1 and now it’s me. I’m not surprised I won. I’m just really happy. He was head-butting and holding the whole time. I won every round. I beat him with one hand. I told my team I wasn’t going to let this one slip away.”
They began slowly and never made it into anything more than a contest of staring, feinting and grabbing with a few decent shots mixed in, leading the crowd to boo.
Vazquez, 27, of Mexico, countered Bey, 31, of Cleveland, who did not appear very effective. Vazquez, however, did wind up with a bloody nose in the fourth round. Beyond that the fight was devoid of any action.
“He’s a dignified opponent. He fought strong but I anticipated he would fight that way,” Vazquez said through a translator. “I don’t have much to say. I thought the fight was close. I thought I won.”
De La Rosa hangs on against Angulo
Middleweight James De La Rosa dominated Alfredo Angulo but had to hang on after some rough moments in the final two rounds to win a unanimous decision.
De La Rosa (23-2, 13 KOs) won 99-89, 98-90 and 96-92, but was in big trouble in the ninth and 10th rounds against Angulo (22-5, 18 KOs), who was moving up to middleweight and lost his third fight in a row. He was attempting to rebound from back-to-back knockout losses to Erislandy Lara and Canelo Alvarez.
De La Rosa, 26, of San Benito, Texas, started fast and dropped Angulo just as the bell ended the second round when he landed two left hands that sent Angulo reeling into the ropes, which held him up. De La Rosa continued to go to his combinations and repeatedly knocked Angulo’s head back while taking very little in return.
In the seventh round, referee Russell Mora docked a point from Angulo, whose face was getting badly marked up, for a low blow. And after the eighth round, Virgil Hunter, Angulo’s trainer, told him the deal in the corner: “If you don’t knock him out, your career is over. Go get him for me.”
Angulo tried and landed some heavy shots that wobbled De La Rosa in the ninth, but he survived.
Angulo, 32, of Mexico, was all over De La Rosa in the 10th and badly staggered him in the final minute, but De La Rosa stayed on his feet for a dramatic finish.
“I’m proud of myself,” De La Rosa said. “I felt I won it easy. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I fell off at the end. I wanted to put on a good show. That was my fault. I hurt my hand in the second round. I fought through it. That’s boxing.”
In other action:
• Junior welterweight Humberto Soto (65-8-2, 35 KOs), a former lightweight and junior lightweight titleholder, won a unanimous decision against John Molina Jr. (27-5, 22 KOs) in a fight filled with low blows. Soto won on scores of 96-91, 95-92 and 95-92 in a fight in which he was docked a point for a low blow by referee Jay Nady and Molina lost two.
“I felt very good in the ring but it hurt me when he hit me below belt,” Soto said. “But I was able to suck it up.”
In the fourth round, Molina nailed Soto with a bad low blow and he went down. Nady gave Soto time to recover and issued a hard warning to Molina, telling him to keep his punches up. But he couldn’t.
Molina continued to stray low with body shots, landing low blows that knocked Soto to the mat in the sixth and seventh rounds, and Nady docked him one point each time.
In the eighth round, Soto landed his own low blow that sent Molina to his knees in agony, but Nady did not take a point. Each man continued to target the body in a grinding affair, although they hugged each other after tapping gloves to begin the final round.
And then moments later Soto nailed Molina low again and Nady took a point from him.
“I feel he had more low blows. They shouldn’t have taken two points from me,” Molina said. “He’s a veteran and did dirty stuff in there. Back to the drawing board for me.”
Molina, 31, of Covina, California, lost his second fight in a row. He had been trying to rebound from an 11th-round knockout loss to Lucas Matthysse in April — one of the most action-packed fights of the year in which Molina knocked Matthysse down twice and was dropped three times himself before being knocked out.
Soto, 34, of Mexico, won his seventh fight in a row since Matthysse knocked him out in 2012.
• Cruiserweight Andrew Tabiti (8-0, 8 KOs), of Chicago, stopped Caleb Grummet (3-2, 3 KOs), of Lake Odessa, Michigan, in the final minute of their six-round bout. Tabiti had dominated the fight and got the stoppage when he rocked Grummet with a combination, forced him to the ropes and began unloading on him until referee Vic Drakulich stepped in at 2 minutes, 1 second.
• Junior welterweight Armando Lopes (5-3, 1 KO), of Mexico, scored a six-round upset decision win against Argentina’s Damian Sosa (8-1, 6 KOs). Lopes dropped Sosa in the second round and won by scores of 59-54, 58-55 and 57-56.
• Argentine welterweight Fabian Maidana (3-0, 2 KOs), the younger brother of Marcos Maidana, had an easy time as he blew through Jared Teer (2-3, 0 KOs), of Springfield, Illinois, stopping him at 2 minutes, 7 seconds of the first round of their scheduled four-rounder.
• Las Vegas super middleweight Kevin Newman (0-0-1), of Las Vegas, who recently signed with Mayweather Promotions and is trained by Jeff Mayweather (Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s uncle), fought to a disappointing split draw with Tajikistan’s Azamat Umarzoda (0-5-2). One judge scored the fight 39-37 for Newman, one had it 39-37 for Umarzoda and one had it 38-38.