Oscar Duarte breaks down Mark Bernaldez, scores ninth round stoppage
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Fringe lightweight contender Oscar Duarte broke down Mark Bernaldez, eventually stopping him in the ninth round Saturday night before a partisan crowd at the Honda Center.
Duarte, who resides in Parral, Mexico, improves to 23-1-1 (18 knockouts). He has now won his last eight fights since suffering the only loss as a pro at the hands of Adrian Estrella in February 2019.
The physically bigger Duarte spent a majority of the fight walking Bernaldez down, ripping combinations to the head and body of Bernaldez. Duarte did his best work as he had Bernaldez with back against the ropes, but Bernaldez was able to fire back combinations, some of which did get through Duarte’s guard.
Even as Bernaldez attempted to keep Duarte at bay by initiating exchanges and varying his offense, Duarte continued to break him down. During the middle rounds, Duarte focused his attack to the body of Bernaldez, even drawing a few warnings from referee Garard White if a punch strayed below Bernaldez’s belt line.
Duarte continued his attack until he hit paydirt in the ninth round. With over a minute left in the round, a right cross stunned Bernaldez. Duarte went on the attack, pinning Bernaldez against the ropes and letting his hands go. Duarte landed a barrage of punches, almost sending Bernaldez down, but the ropes held him up, prompting White to step in and stop the fight at 2:05.
Bernaldez protested the stoppage, stating he was not legitimately hurt from the punches Duarte landed.
No fight is lined up next for Duarte, but a clash against unbeaten puncher William Zepeda is a possibility. Both are promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
Bernaldez, who resides in Cotabato in the Philippines, drops to 23-6 (17 KOs). The 28-year-old has split his last six fights.
The Duarte-Bernaldez fight preceded the main event bout between middleweight contender Jaime Munguia and Jimmy Kelly.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing