Super bantamweight Danny Roman (17-2-1, 5 KOs) continued his winning ways Friday night at “Path to Glory,” this time successfully defending his NABA Championship against the technically sound Erick Ruiz (14-4, 6 KOs) of Oxnard, Calif. With the unanimous decision win, Roman, 25, now sits with a nine fight-winning streak, plus the No. 15 ranking by the World Boxing Association.
“I’m feeling more and more confident with every win,” said Roman, who is based in Los Angeles. “Ruiz presented a tough challenge in that he’s defensive and likes to counter punch. I figured him out pretty quickly and was able to control the pace of the fight to get the win and keep my NABA title.”
Roman got off to a quick start, busting Ruiz’s nose early in the first round. By the second and third rounds, Roman backed up Ruiz with a steady jab and lightening fast left uppercut. From that point forward, Roman was essentially in the driver’s seat, navigating his way to the first title defense win of his young career. Unanimous decision scores read 98-92 and 99-91 twice.
In the co-main event, junior welterweight Giovani Santillan (17-0, 9 KOs) of San Diego remained unbeaten after winning a hard fought majority decision against the bigger and taller Ernesto Ortiz (10-3, 7 KOs) of Morelos, Mex.
Ortiz, who is listed at junior welterweight but could very easily fight at welterweight, possessed quick hands and a powerful right hand. The 23-year-old Santillan, off since February, showed no evidence of ring rust and was able to mix precise uppercuts with crushing body shots throughout the 8-round fight.
It was a battle of differing styles as Ortiz preferred to strike from distance with his right hand, while Santillan was most effective in close quarters. In the seventh round, the fight might as well have taken place in an elevator because both fighters were content to let the leather fly. Ultimately, Santillan showed more offensive and defensive consistency, and came away with perhaps the toughest win of his career. Scores read 76-76, 78-74, and 80-72.
“I think this is exactly the type of fight that I needed,” Santillan said. “Ortiz is a great competitor and the only way to get better is to be in tough fights.”
Up-and-coming featherweight Jose Haro (11-1, 6 KOs) of Salt Lake City delivered an impressive performance against the quick hitting Juan Reyes (12-3-3, 2 KOs) of Riverside, Calif. In the third round, Haro landed a sweeping right hand that was heard throughout the arena. Haro showed tremendous technical ability, while also displaying a stingy defense that was good enough for a unanimous decision win 79-73 all around.
Featherweight Erick Ituarte (12-1-1, 2 KOs) of Santa Ana, Calif. and Angel Martinez (6-2-1, 2 KOs) of Laredo, Tex. put on an exciting slugfest over six rounds. Ituarte was aggressive early and preferred to take the action to Martinez. While Ituarte relied on combinations, Martinez favored a counter left hook.
Toward the end of the fifth round, Ituarte connected with a powerful combination that floored the less experienced Martinez. He would beat the count, but by then, Ituarte had wrapped up the win. The scores read 59-54 and 60-53 in favor of Ituarte.
Lightweight Cesar Villarraga (8-1, 4 KOs) of Colombia suffered his first defeat at the hands of the Joel Diaz-trained Manuel Mendez (6-1-1, 3 KOs) of Indio, Calif. Villarraga appeared to be in control of the fight until the closing minute of the third round when he got caught with a straight right.
On the way down, Villarraga rolled his right ankle and could not beat the count. Mendez collected his third knockout win of his career (2:25 mark). It was a tough loss for Villarraga, as he was ahead on all three scorecards before he went down.
Kicking off the “Path to Glory” card were heavyweights Dakota Walker (1-0) of Los Angeles and Edgar Najera (0-5) of Tijuana, Mex. Walker, making his professional debut, worked a steady jab to keep Najera off balance. Even though winless through five fights, Najera displayed a steady defense that made it difficult for Walker to punch through. Nevertheless, Walker dominated the fight and won via unanimous decision 40-36 all around.