Mario “El Azteca” Barrios (25-0, 16 KOs) scored a close unanimous decision victory over Batyr Akhmedov (7-1, 6 KOs) to capture the WBA Super Lightweight title in an action packed fight.
“I knew this was going to be a war,” said Barrios. “He was getting dirty in there but the Mexican warrior in me was not going to let this opportunity pass me by. I dug deep and got the victory.”
The action began with Akhmedov trying to get inside against his taller opponent, while Barrios looked to move and punish Akhmedov with pot shots from the outside. In round four, Barrios connected with a combo that stunned Akhmedov before Barrios followed up and scored a knockdown when Akhmedov’s glove touched the canvas.
“The plan was to gradually grow the activity,” said Akhmedov. “I knew that I had to win by a wide margin. After the first knockdown, I knew that I had to add activity more quickly than I had planned. So I started being more aggressive. I did everything I could to try to stop him.”
After surviving the round, Akhmedov picked up the aggression and began effectively closing the space down between his opponent. He began to land numerous clean left and right hooks that put Barrios on the defensive.
As the championship rounds neared, Barrios began to experience severe swelling in his left eye amidst the onslaught from Akhmedov. In the final round, Barrios was able to turn the tide back in his favor late in the frame. He delivered a pinpoint right hand that stunned Akhmdov and again forced him to put a glove on the mat.
After the knockdown, the fight went to the judges scores, who saw the fight 116-11, 115-11 and 114-112, all in favor of Barrios. The relentless pursuit after the first knockdown from Barrios ended with him holding a 238 to 135 advantage in punches landed, but it was not enough to sway the judges on this night.
“I promised my city of San Antonio that I would bring this title back home and I did it,” said Barrios.
“The judges see better than I can from the ring,” said Akhmedov. “I did everything I could. I thought I won the fight. They decided that he won the fight. When I watch the fight I’ll be able to tell you what it looked like. My job is to do everything to win. The judges are supposed to judge correctly.
“I tried to do everything I could. I was told that I wouldn’t be able to handle his experience, but he was on the ropes most of the fight. I beat him up and I thought I won the fight.”
The main event of prelims on FS1 saw former three-time world champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (36-6-1, 20 KOs) earn a unanimous decision victory over Jerry Thomas (14-2-1, 8 KOs) in their 10-round welterweight fight.
The early rounds were strategic, as Thomas relied on his movement while Guerrero looked to fire jabs patiently until he found opportunities for his power punches. Round three saw action jump up a bit as Guerrero landed a big straight left that pushed Thomas hard back into the ropes.
“I got some rounds in tonight, which was valuable,” said Guerrero. “We got what we needed and boxed our way to victory.”
Guerrero continued to stalk Thomas and attack the body as his opponent spent most of the fight set on circling the ring. However, in round nine, Thomas upped the presser and closed the distance on Guerrero. He landed numerous power shots that put Guerrero on the back foot.
It was Thomas’ best round of the fight, but he was unable to put Guerrero down or out and after 10 rounds the fight was in the judges’ hands. All three saw the bout in favor of Guerrero, by scores of 98-92 and 99-91 twice.
“I want to get back into those bigger fights,” said Guerrero. “I moved around and stayed smart in there tonight. The goal was to stick to the game plan and I did until the end of the fight, but then I got right back on it. You just have to keep working out the kinks and that’s what I’m going to keep doing.”
In the opening prelims bout, unbeaten top prospect Joey Spencer (9-0, 7 KOs) scored a third-round stoppage of previously unbeaten Travis Gambardella (5-1-2, 2 KOs) in their super welterweight contest.
Spencer started the action early, leading with power shots while also controlling the distance between him and his opponent. A series of body shots put Gambardella down twice in the first round, although he was able to make it to the closing bell of the frame.
“The body shots weren’t really the plan going in,” said Spencer. “I started off with head shots and he was taking those well. I put one downstairs and I instantly saw it affect him badly. I knew it was a wrap. I was going to keep going to the body.”
Spencer landed a powerful straight right hand to Gambardella’s head early in round two and quickly followed up with a flurry punctuated by another body shot that dropped him for the third time in the fight. Although Spencer looked to close hard, Gambardella was able to fight intelligently and make it through another round.
“I thought the referee was going to stop it in the second round,” said Spencer. “When he let him go I took a deep breath and made sure not to punch myself out. I stuck to my jab and let the rest take care of itself.”
Early into round three, Spencer went back on the attack and connected with a big left hook to Gambardella’s head. This time, referee Ray Corona jumped in and halted the bout 53 seconds into the round, giving Spencer the TKO victory.
“I’m so happy with the improvements that I was able to show tonight on the big stage,” said Spencer. “I’m really excited for what’s to come.”