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Isaac Cruz outpoints Francisco Vargas, Angelo Leo edges Aaron Alameda via hard-fought MD

Isaac Cruz - Photo by Matt Heasley
19
Jun

Lightweight Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz continued to assert himself as a rising contender with a clear unanimous decision over former junior lightweight world titlist and Mexican countryman Francisco Vargas on Saturday night in the co-feature of Showtime’s Premier Boxing Champions card at the Toyota Center in Houston, Charlo’s hometown.

The judges scored it 100-90, 99-90 and 97-92 for Cruz, who began making a name for himself by stepping up his level of opposition in his previous two bouts with a sensational first-round knockout of former world title challenger Diego Magdaleno last October followed by a competitive unanimous decision victory over Jose Matias Romero on March 12.

Vargas, although in the twilight of his career, was the best known opponent Cruz had faced so far and Cruz made him look like the aging fighter he is. He was more consistent landing punches throughout the fight. He banged him repeatedly to the body and landed a steady diet of left hooks.

Isaac Cruz attacks Francisco Vargas

In the pre-fight buildup, Cruz and Vargas, who sparred three rounds with each other last year when Cruz was getting ready for the fight with Magdaleno, promised they would produce an all-action fight and they delivered even if it was one-sided.

“What can I say? I’m elated,” Cruz said through an interpreter. “This was exactly the kind of fight we expected.”

The 5-foot-4 Cruz (22-1-1, 15 KOs), 23, inflicted more damage than the 5-8 Vargas, who gave a professional effort but could not make his height advantage work in his favor.

According to CompuBox statistics, Cruz landed 188 of 548 punches (34 percent) and Vargas connected with 148 of 586 (25 percent).

In the third round, Cruz rocked Vargas, sending him reeling from a left hook.

Vargas (27-3-2, 19 KOs), 36, got in a few right hands and landed some uppercuts, but Cruz was busy with his left hook as he went straight at Vargas, who gained fame by participating in back-to-back fights of the year, in 2015 when he took the WBC junior lightweight world title from Takashi Miura and fought to a draw to retain it against in his next bout against Orlando Salido in the 2016 fight of the year.

Referee James Green warned Cruz for low blows in the eighth round. Later in the round Cruz sent Vargas reeling into the ropes when he landed a leaping right and left.

An accidental head butt busted open a gruesome cut over Vargas’ right eye in the 10th round that left him with blood pouring down his face, not an uncommon situation for Vargas. Surprisingly the fight was allowed to continue and moments later Cruz was credited with a knockdown in the final seconds when he rushed Vargas and threw several punches.

“‘Bandito’ was crafty and fought his fight,” Cruz said. “That allowed him to stay on his feet until the 10th round. Lots of embracing, but we knew how to manage it. We proved to be in top shape. Our conditioning paid off. I think fans were happy because this is what all of Mexico and the Toyota Center wanted to see.”

Vargas came into the fight having won two fights in a row at lightweight after losing by sixth-round stoppage challenging then-junior lightweight world titlist Miguel Berchelt in May 2019.

 

Leo edges Alameda by majority decision

Former junior featherweight world titlist Angelo Leo took a hard-fought majority decision from former world title challenger Aaron Alameda in an action-packed fight.

One judges scored the fight 95-95 but the other two had it for Leo, 96-94 and a surprisingly wide 98-92 from judge Eva Zaragoza.

“I knew it was a close fight,” Leo said. “Alameda, he’s a tough fighter. He got 25 wins for a reason so I knew it was going to be a tough fight but I wasn’t surprised (I got the victory).”

Leo and Alameda were both coming off their first professional defeats, unanimous decisions in world title fights, and aiming to bounce back.

Leo was fighting for the first time since he lost the WBO 122-pound belt in his first defense to Stephen Fulton in January and Alameda lost to former bantamweight titlist Luis Nery when they met for the vacant WBC junior featherweight title last September.

Angelo Leo take it to the very game Aaron Alameda.

Leo (21-1, 9 KOs), 26, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, native fighting out of Las Vegas, and Alameda (25-2, 13 KOs), 27, of Mexico, both fought with urgency, knowing how damaging a second loss in a row would be to their careers.

It was a fast-paced bout from the start as they mostly fought at close quarters. Both landed plenty of punches with Leo often going to the body and the southpaw Alameda finding success with his uppercut and right hook.

Most of the rounds were close but Leo looked worse for the wear because his right eye began swelling early in the bout and it got worse as the fight went on.

The pace never relented and they took turns landing combinations in the center of the ring, including in the high-contact ninth round.

According to CompuBox statistics, Leo landed 211 of 614 punches (34 percent), including 85 body punches, and Alameda landed 191 of 693 (28 percent).

Leo said he learned from his loss to Fulton and made some adjustments for the fight with Alameda.

“I was able to move a little more, change it up a little bit,” he said. “I used a different game plan. Aaron Alameda is a tricky southpaw and has an awkward style. It was a good fight for me. A learning experience for me. He was a lot stronger than I thought he was. Nothing really surprised me. I could have boxed him a little more. Moved my head and used my jab a little more. But other than that my game plan went as planned.”

Alameda failed to make weight at Friday’s weigh-in by coming in at 123.4 pounds for a bout contracted at 122 and was fined by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and also had to pay an undisclosed amount to Leo for the fight to go on.

The crowd booed the decision, which Alameda appreciated.

“The fans spoke, and they make the best judges,” Alameda said. “I felt like I won tonight. I think people saw it that way too even if the judges didn’t. I’m ready for whatever and whoever comes next. Maybe the fact that he was the (former) champion and the favorite coming in played a role (in the outcome), but I felt like I did what was necessary to win that fight and felt really good throughout. I threw my punches and came forward while he just went backwards and never made me uncomfortable.”

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