LaRon Mitchell (15-0, 13 KOs) claimed the vacant NABF Jr. Heavyweight Championship on Friday night over Scott Alexander (12-2-2, 6 KOs) in a tightly contested fight that was a lot closer than the scorecards would indicate.
Mitchell, who has showed an increasing level of comfort fighting in close quarters, pressured Alexander onto the ropes for most of the fight. Alexander kept a high guard to minimize punishment and countered nicely to keep Mitchell honest. Mitchell, however, would not be denied in his first career title fight.
“It wasn’t very pretty,” said Mitchell after the fight. “But I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty defeat any day of the week.”
Alexander would fight from behind early due to an accidental slip in the third that was ruled a knockdown. Mitchell took full advantage and never allowed Alexander to slip into his normal routine of boxing from the outside to set up power shots.
“I knew I had to take the fight to him because of his jab,” Mitchell said. “Our game plan worked and now I go home with the NABA title.”
Scores: 97-92, 98-91 twice.
In the co-feature, welterweight Juan Ruiz (17-0, 10 KOs) was successful in his U.S. debut against the crafty Wilberth Lopez (15-6, 10 KOs). Recently signed to Thomson Boxing, Ruiz showed excellent technical ability against the very awkward Lopez. Ruiz, who lives in Mexico by way of Venezuela, mixed his punches well throughout the 8-round fight. He largely worked off his jab to set up an inside attack that helped him secure a majority decision win (76-76, 78-74, twice).
Junior bantamweights Ricardo Espinoza (10-1, 8 KOs) and Francisco Lapizco (7-5, 2 KOs) put on an exhilarating fight that rocked the Doubletree Hotel from start to finish. Lapizco opened the action in the first with a counter right that flattened Espinoza. He would beat the count, only to be dropped a second time by the hard charging Lapizco.
Espinoza shook off the damage and deposited Lapizco on the canvas to salvage some points. From that point forward, the fight went back-and-forth with both fighters inflicting damage on the other. Ultimately it was Espinoza that escaped with a razor thin unanimous decision win (58-56, 57-56 twice).
Lightweight Juan Reyes (13-3-3, 2 KOs) of Riverside, Calif. outperformed Colombia’s Cesar Villarraga (9-3, 4 KOs) through six rounds to claim a unanimous decision win. Reyes applied his signature pressure to keep Villarraga off balance. He jumped on him early and never took his foot of the gas. Villarraga, at times, countered nicely, but Reyes had too much movement for the former Olympian. Scores: 58-56, 59-55, 60-54.
Welterweight Eredani Leon (4-2, 1 KO) used a steady attack to stymie Jacob Szilasi (4-2, 4 KOs) over four rounds. Leon, who had a considerable height advantage over Szilasi, tagged Szilasi early and often with a sturdy jab. Szilasi, who hails from Spokane, Wash., was unable to power through the jab and fell behind early on the scorecards. The Los Angeles-based Leon swept the 4-round fight on all three scorecards (40-36).
Featherweights Alex Solorio (3-2, 1 KO) and Alimkhan Jumakhonov (2-1, 1 KO) thrilled the sold-out crowd with consistent action that only improved as the rounds went on. Jumakhonov, while not impressive on the defensive end, landed the more telling blows against the equally active Solorio. Jumakhonov won via unanimous decision: 39-37, 40-36 twice.
Junior lightweight Michael Dutchover (1-0, 1 KO) out of Midland, Tex. earned his first professional win in knockout fashion over Cesar Partida (1-1-1) in the “Path to Glory” show opener. Recently signed to Thompson Boxing and Banner Promotions, Dutchover looked like an elite prospect right from the start.
He worked off an effective jab that allowed him to land crisp power shots. In the third, he connected on a crushing combination that resulted in the fight’s only knockdown. Partida survived the round, but was not allowed to come out for the fourth and final round.
“Partida was a tough opponent,” said Dutchover. “He took a lot of quality punches. I was able to drop him in the third and I knew he was hurt. It feels great to start my career with a knockout win.”