NEW YORK–The HBO Cotto-Martinez pay-per-view card immediately gave viewers their money’s worth in an exhilarating brawl with a stunning finish in the first fight of the main card.
John Jackson dropped Irish Any Lee with a massive right hook in the first frame. After a tentative start to the second round, Jackson tagged Lee with several hard shots after eating a few of Lee’s punches. Lee kept Jackson at bay with a long, stiff jab in the third. Jackson continued to control the center of the ring in the fourth, inflicting punishment on a retreating Lee. Jackson’s momentum continued into the fifth, when his onslaught again sent Lee scurrying. As Jackson looked to finish in a mad scramble, Lee unloaded a massive hybrid hook-uppercut on the chin that knocked Jackson completely unconscious and prompted a wild rush into the ring from concerned medical staff and cornermen. CompuBox reported a 104-63 Jackson advantage in power punches. Humans discerned that only one of those power punches ultimately mattered. With that perfect punch, Lee (33-2) completes the comeback victory at 1:07 of the fifth frame.
Six of the seven other bouts prefacing the Miguel Cotto-Sergio Martinez middleweight championship match at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night featured Puerto Rican boxers.
In an Argentine-Puerto Rican proxy-battle preview of the main event, super welterweights Javier Maciel and Jorge Melendez waged a war over ten rounds that began with repeated low blows inflicted by the body-punching Puerto Rican. The referee finally deducted a point in the fourth and then Maciel deducted another one by sending Melendez down with a massive right. Maciel quickly resumed the attack with the bell mercifully providing Melendez an escape. The fifth played as a back-and-forth-affair. Maciel tagged Melendez against the ropes but Melendez responded with several scoring combinations of his own. After momentum shifted to Melendez in the sixth and seventh, Maciel pinned his opponent against the corner with a barrage of shots that may have been enough to steal the seventh. They fight the final few rounds in a phone booth. Melendez opens the last three minutes with a violent intensity announcing his desire to win. Both men swing wildly and the crowd erupts. But after suffering a knockdown and a point deduction, Melendez’s final-round rally proves too little, too late. The Argentine wins by majority decision on scores of 94-94, 96-92, and 97-91. Breitbart Sports scored it 97-91.
Marvelous Marvin Sonsona sends a grimacing Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. to the deck with a punch to the liver in the first round. The fight’s promise proves fleeting, as a series of head clashes, holds, low blows, and tackles spoils the bout. Sonsona wins a split decision.
On the undercard, Felix Verdejo wasted no time, aggressively stalking Engelberto Valenzuela and sending him to the canvass–and the Puerto Rican-dominant crowd to their feet, in a furious flurry of punches. Verdejo resumed his unrelenting assault upon the restart. His Mexican opponent remained upright but referee Arthur Mercante had seen enough–or at least the future–and called a cessation of the action at 1:17 of the first frame. Valenzuela falls to 9-2. Verdejo ups his undefeated record to 13-0.
The “Wonder Boy” Jose Lopez employed superior quickness, foot movement, and boxing to land a decision victory over game veteran Raul Hidalgo (21-11). Wonder Boy relied on a hit-and-run style that witnessed him landing darting punches but rarely sticking around for combinations to develop. The super bantamweight’s flight-not-fight instinct provoked boos periodically throughout the second half of the eight-round fight. Lopez lost the crowd but nevertheless won the judges. They scored the bout 80-72, 80-72, and 79-73. Lopez improves to 13-0.
Jose Pedraza overwhelmed Arturo Uruzquieta with a barrage of body and head shots from odd angles to move his record to a perfect 17-0. The Puerto Rican super featherweight coaxed a stoppage from referee Arthur Mercante by downing his Mexican opponent with a right uppercut followed by an overhand left thrown for good measure. Cleveland’s Willie Nelson improved to 22-1-1 with a first-round stoppage of flyweight Daryl Cunningham. Olympian Jantony Ortiz debuted in style by finishing in the first stanza an outmatched Elio Ruiz.