In the main event, former Colombian Olympian Jhonatan Romero took Efrain Esquivias to school so thoroughly it almost hurt to watch, and Roman Morales decisioned Jonathan Arellano quite easily despite tasting canvas early.
(Jhonatan Romero, left, going to the body against Efrain Esquivias; photo credit: Showtime)
Romero did well with his length in the 1st round, controlling distance by pushing a jab and whipping right hands. When Esquivias managed to get inside, however, he let loose with a few good two-handed combinations. Romero looked very briefly wobbled by a left hand early in the round, but if he was, Esquivias wasn't able to press his advantage. Again in the 2nd, Romero planted his feet a bit and landed uppercuts upstairs and down that Esquivias didn't look too keen on absorbing. The issue, though, was that Romero was unleashing his shots from just too far outside, begging to get countered. Esquivias' single-minded goal and lack of head movement had him eating more shots than his skin looked to be able to withstand over the long haul.
A spearing jab and sharp outside shots were catching Esquivias with disconcerting regularity in round 3, and he just had no answer for them, aside from wading right in and attempting to ignite a war. Hard right hands from Esquivias were few and far between, while his eyes looked to be swelling rapidly. And again Romero's answer for Esquivias' aggression was intelligent movement in the 4th, but he didn't "run." In the trenches, Romero was just craftier and less wasteful. When Esquivias did manage to slip shots, punches were waiting for the return of his face.
In the first half-minute of the 5th, Esquivias' head was snapped back a half-dozen times with uppercuts and right hands, and he again made little or no adjustment. And the rest of the round wasn't much different, either. And hell, round 6 was more of the same. It became an issue of Esquivias needing more punching power to make a dent -- punching power he just didn't have.
Esquivias almost seemed to be unofficially throwing in the towel in the 7th, as he sat nearly motionless on the ropes as Romero unloaded. Esquivias finally got busy, but again just wasn't effective -- not until after the bell rang, anyways. Just after the bell rang, Esquivias landed a left hook downstairs that had Romero rolling around on the canvas, which referee Lou Moret called low and cost Esquivias a point. Appearing inspired, Romero unloaded to begin the 8th, landing just about every punch possible. Esquivias toughed it out despite noticeably swollen eyes, but once more found himself having difficulty just cracking Romero's shell with anything significant.
The forward momentum from Esquivias in round 9 was both impressive and ineffectual. His punches to Romero's body were sometimes landing, and his effort was never lacking, but he couldn't manage to stop Romero from doing almost whatever he wanted. Romero's movement slowed in the 10th, though, and suddenly Esquivias was able to land significantly more -- until the final minute where Romero clearly had his way and ripped uppercuts and sweeping right hands up top. In the 11th, it was once more Romero strafing Esquivias with shots and shots and shots, the latter's will not yet broken despite being out-landed significantly to that point.
Right hands dominated the action from both men early in the 12th, with Romero landing a series early, while Esquivias struggled to do something with his own shortly thereafter. Disinterested in engaging much, Romero upped the movement for the rest of the round, adding insult and frustration to the visible injury engraved on Esquivas' mug.
Scores were 119-108 twice, and 120-107.
According to Showtime's "ShoStats" punch counter, Romero landed at a greater than 3-to-1 clip, even though Esquivias managed to almost keep up in terms of activity. The style and awkwardness of Romero was nearly Celestino Caballero-esque, as he used a combination of height, reach and defense to avoid serious punishment, but at the same time looked somewhat vulnerable. His record remains perfect at 22-0 (12 KO), but he only shifted into a second or third gear occasionally, and was otherwise content to rack up points.
To be fair to 2006 National Golden Gloves champion Efrain Esquivias, now 16-2 (9 KO), his effort was an honest one, and he kept Romero from becoming all-the-way complacent. With more punching power, he may have been able to make something happen, but the shot that seemed to rock Romero early only served to wake him up. Some serious adjustments in style and game plan are in order if he's to remain even at the ShoBox level, much less above it.
The co-feature was decidedly more competitive, though not by much in the end, as Morales actually did tweek his in-ring performance enough to out-hustle and just plain outdo his opponent.
Arellano opened the bout looking to make an apparent speed and sharpness advantage work for him, beating Morales to the punch and dipping under the return fire in round 1. A lead right for Arellano looked to be the punch that would make the difference for him, if the opening stanza was any indicator. His counter right made an appearance in round 2 before Morales caught up with a handful of his own overhand rights that slipped past the low-ish left hand of Arellano, who waited around a too much rather than letting his hands go.
Arellano's trainer Henry Ramirez asked his fighter to pick up the pace before the 3rd round, and Arellano answered the call with some body shots early. Halfway through the 3rd, though, Morales got a lot busier and opened up with combinations, which walked him into two clean left hands from his foe, the second of which put him down in the final minute. A few clean right hands punctuated the round for Arellano before the bell.
More stinging punches from Arellano ushered in the start of round 4, and Morales became flustered as both his eyes began to swell slightly. Again Morales upped his chuck rate, though this time without consequence when his shots put Arellano back on his heels. The two traded punches at bell's toll. In the 5th, Morales found himself getting tagged with left hooks and body shots in the first minute, but he had success when throwing combinations, seemingly keeping Arellano from moving laterally on him. Morales certainly wasn't visibly hurting Arellano, but outworking him clearly.
Another earful in the corner of Arellano bore no immediate fruit and he largely sat back while Morales got work done with uppercuts and longer right hands. Halfway through round 6, a rough left hand downstairs decked Arellano, who beat the count but looked shaky. Turning southpaw briefly, Morales dinged Arellano with some left hands and rocked his head back before switching again and finishing strong in his orthodox stance.
The 7th round's pace slowed back down, and fans got a good look at the reddening right and quickly-swelling left eye of Arellano. Once more the activity favored Morales for much of the the round; when Morales threw in combination, Arellano did little more than take shots and miss counters. And Morales kept up the hand movement in the 8th and final round, working to the body inside and jabbing more consistently than Arellano from the outside. An awkward sequence with about one minute left in the bout had Arellano limping on a knee that had a heavy brace on it earlier in the fight, and he was rendered all but impotent from there.
Scorecards tabbed Morales the winner by 78-72 twice, and 77-73.
With the win, Morales, still undefeated at 13-0 (6 KO), was gifted some type of four-letter belt, but seems a ways away from any type of "real" championship. True enough, he made the proper adjustments, but was in the way of Arellano's left hook when he stood still. It was far from an embarrassing win, but at some point he's bound to run into a foe that can and will counter his activity with quality.
Arellano, 13-1-1 (3 KO), was not the man to do it. And he won't be the man to do much more against other opponents either, unless he finds a way to light some kind of fire in his gullet. Multiple corner freakouts and very obvious in-ring developments couldn't get him going, and it's fair to wonder what will.
At the very least, this is the type of card ShoBox should indeed be putting on -- one with unbeaten and somewhat untested young fighters, even if the fights wind up being more mismatch-y than anticipated.