In a thrilling back-and-forth fight, top bantamweight prospect Saul Sanchez (11-0, 6 KOs) narrowly outpointed the game Fernando Saavedra (7-6, 3 KOs) in the “Path to Glory” main event on Friday night.
Sanchez, 21, starring in his first main event, tasted adversity for the first time in his young career and accorded himself well by never backing off the action. Saavedra, who has now fought four straight undefeated prospects, took Sanchez’ best punches and even delivered plenty of his own during the 8-round slug fest.
Sanchez, however, landed the stronger shots and it was evident beginning in the third round when blood began dripping from Saavedra’s nose. The pair opened the fight without much feeling out, as both decided to put their stamp on the fight at the earliest opportunity.
“He was the toughest guy I’ve faced so far,” said Sanchez, who is trained by Joel Diaz and managed by Steve Martini. “His record is a little deceiving. He knows how to fight and can take a punch.”
Saavedra, who had an extensive amateur career in his native Mexico, made things interesting by pressing the action in the final two rounds. He sensed he needed a big finish to tilt the fight in his favor. Sanchez, meanwhile, carefully picked his spots and finished with a nice flurry to close out the fight. Defensively, Sanchez was able to slip a lot of the punches thrown by Saavedra.
“I knew I won the fight because my shots were backing him up,” said Sanchez after the fight. “I was the more accurate puncher.”
Scores: 77-75 twice, 76-76.
In the “Path to Glory” co-feature, welterweight prospect Loui Lopez (5-0, 3 KOs) of Corona, Calif. used a quick attack to sweep the scorecards over Ray Cervera (0-2) of Bakersfield, Calif.
Lopez, who is trained by Henry Ramirez, showcased his fast hands and strong punching ability throughout the four round fight. Lopez worked off a sharp jab that opened up the rest of his punching arsenal. Lopez went over the top with his right hand and followed up with hooks to the body.
One-sided scores: 40-36 all around.
Heavyweight Oscar Torrez (3-0, 1 KO) of Rialto, Calif. stayed unbeaten with a workmanlike decision win over Richard Soto (0-1) of Dinuba, Calif.
Torrez worked effectively from the outside and let his hands go in the fourth and final round. He backed up Soto, who was making his professional debut, with multiple power punches that caused Soto to take a knee. Overall, Torrez found the angels in virtually every round, while Soto mainly covered up and through defensive shots.
Scores: 40-35, 39-36 twice.
Junior middleweight Anthony Franco (3-1-1) of Redlands, Calif. capitalized on a big third round to defeat Antonio Hernandez (1-4) of Kansas City, Mo. by unanimous decision.
A left hook by Franco dropped Hernandez in the third. The knockdown, however, was a fortuitous one for Franco as he caught Hernandez extremely off balance. Nevertheless, Franco landed consistently throughout the four-round fight, while Hernandez only punched in spurts.
Scores: 40-35, 39-36, 38-37.
In an obvious mismatch, featherweight Rafael Rivera (26-2-2, 17 KOs) of Mexico made easy work out of fellow countryman Jose Ramos (11-15-1, 8 KOs) in the “Path to Glory” show opener.
Rivera knocked out Ramos at the 1:51 mark of the opening round. He dropped him once with power shots that caused Ramos to stumble on the ropes, which was ruled a knockdown. Rivera poured it on from there, landing hooks to the head and body. Ramos wasn’t answering and was locked in a guard positon, prompting referee Ray Corona to call the fight.