LAS VEGAS – Jerry Belmontes spoiled the U.S. debut of Will Tomlinson, outboxing the unbeaten Australian junior lightweight contender over 10 rounds on the non-PPV undercard of the Canelo Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo fight on Saturday at the MGM Grand.
Belmontes (19-3, 5 knokcouts), a crafty former junior featherweight prospect from Corpus Christi, Texas, won by scores of 99-91 and 98-92 (twice). He befuddled the aggressive Aussie with his quicker hands, sharper technique, lateral movement and counterpunching.
Any time Tomlinson (21-1-1, 12 KOs), who loaded up with wide looping overhand rights all fight, was unable to connect from a distance and couldn’t deal with Belmontes’ holding on the inside.
In the best fight of the non-televised undercard, junior lightweights Francisco Vargas and Abner Cotto lived up the “Toe To Toe” Showtime PPV title by battling it out in close for 10 hotly contested rounds.
Vargas (19-0-1, 13 KOs), a 2008 Mexican Olympian, won the entertaining scrap by scores of 97-93 (twice) and 96-94, but the fight could have easily been a draw or 96-94 points victory for Cotto, who rebounded well from a first-round knockout loss he suffered to current WBC lightweight titleholder Omar Figueroa Jr. last April.
Cotto (17-2, 8 KOs), of Caguas, Puerto Rico, had the edge in the early rounds by using his superior speed, longer reach and footwork to hit and not get hit in return. However, Vargas kept pressuring Cotto and was able to get in close and work over the taller man’s body by the fourth round. From the point the two 130 pounders went tit for tat battling on the inside. Cotto was busier but Vargas landed the harder punches and visibly hurt the Puerto Rican with hooks to the body a few times in the late rounds.
Junior featherweight prospect Joseph Diaz Jr. (9-0, 7 KOs/10-1 if you count his two bouts with the World Series of Boxing) stopped tough-but-outclassed Puerto Rican journeyman Jovany Fuentes in the fifth round of their scheduled eight rounder. The 20-year-old 2012 U.S. Olympian from South El Monte, Calif., was in complete command of the fight by using his stiff jab, hard counter punches, economical combinations and a mean body attack. At the end of the fifth round a left to the body dropped Fuentes. Referee Russell Mora waved the fight off without a count at 2:59 of the round.
Junior welterweight prospect Keandre Gibson (9-0-1, 4 KOs), of St. Louis, Mo., stopped Tijuana journeyman Antonio Wong (11-8-1, 6 KOs) in the fourth round of their scheduled six rounder with a body shot. Mora waved the fight off without a count at 1:51 of the round.
In the opening bout of the Golden Boy Promotions card, light heavyweight prospect Steve Lovett (8-0, 6 KOs), of New South Wales, Australia, stopped Tijuana journeyman Francisco Molina (2-3, 2 KOs) in the opening round of their scheduled four rounder.