MONROEVILLE, Pa. (April 19, 2014) – Rod Salka put on a boxing clinic for Alexei Collado in Friday’s ShoBox: The New Generation main event. And then he stated his case for a world title shot. Salka was the more intelligent and effective fighter from the opening bell, pounding the body and utilizing his superior movement in an impressive 10-round unanimous decision victory (96-94, 96-93, 96-93) over the previously undefeated Collado at the Monroeville Convention Center in Monroeville, Pa., just down the road from his hometown of Bunola, Pa.
The naturally bigger fighter, Salka scored a third-round knockdown and essentially kept Collado at bay, limiting him to looping, clubbing right hands that rarely landed.
“I’m heading to Carson next week to call out the winner of Figueroa-Belmontes,” said Salka as he celebrated with his Pittsburgh-area fans after the fight. “I want to fight whoever wins that, doesn’t matter to me. I earned a shot at the title.”
Salka was referencing next Saturday’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING showdown between WBC Lightweight World Championship Omar Figueroa and Jerry Belmontes at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
“I dictated the pace of the fight. I kept him where I wanted him and forced him to keep going for that overhand right, which he couldn’t land cleanly. I was throwing first and throwing last, just like I wanted to do. I mixed up my offense well and kept my hands up.”
It was a learning experience for the previously undefeated Collado (18-1, 16 KOs), a former Cuban standout who had over 300 amateur bouts.
“He was smart and that was the difference,” Collado said. “He kept moving. His movement was the problem for me.”
ShoBox expert analyst Steve Farhood agreed with Collado’s assessment and was impressed with what he saw from the lightweight contender.
“You have to love what Salka did and how he did it,” Farhood said. “Even after scoring a left hook knockdown, he stayed with his game, didn’t try to do what he couldn’t do and remained poised and confident in his own abilities. His conditioning was fantastic and even though he did nothing to surprise Collado, the Cuban couldn’t find the answer.”
In the ShoBox co-feature, undefeated Dominican prospect and Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz scored a close, eight-round split decision victory over Emmanuel Lartey, scored 77-75 (Diaz), 77-75 (Lartey), 77-75 (Diaz).
Diaz was aggressive early and was most effective when he utilized combinations, but was hurt in the third by a right-left combo from Lartey (15-2-1, 7 KOs) that seemed to change the pace bout for a few rounds. Diaz (15-0, 8 KOs) came back and took control of the fight, doing his best work against the ropes and spoiling a potential birthday celebration for the now twice-beaten Ghanaian prospect.
“It’s disappointing to know it was scored a split decision,” Diaz said. “I think I dominated most of the rounds so I don’t see how the judges scored it that way.
“I want to see my family – it’s been three months – and then head back to Oxnard to get in the gym with Robert (Garcia).”
Lartey also took issue with the judges’ scorecards. .
“I can’t tell the judges what to do,” Lartey said. “I think it should have been scored a draw. This is the only job I know. I need to go back to the gym and work on some things.
In a matchup of southpaws in opening bout of the telecast, local favorite and undefeated welterweight prospect Sammy Vasquez, Jr., handed fellow unbeaten Juan Rodriguez, Jr., the first loss of his career with a dominating first round TKO.
Vasquez (14-0, 10 KOs) scored a knockdown with a left shot to the face less than 20 seconds into the bout, followed by a left body shot that sent Rodriguez (11-1, 5 KOs) to the canvas less than a minute later. Rodriguez went down yet again after a barrage of punches, spit out his mouthpiece and the referee stopped the bout at 2:49 of the first.
“It’s not that it was easy, it was that it was well-executed,” said Vasquez, a U.S. Armed Forces veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq. “We had a game plan, stuck to it and that’s what happened. All the fans, the soldiers watching overseas on AFN (American Forces Network), my family watching on SHOWTIME, that was the biggest part of the night.”
Friday’s fights will replay on Thursday, April 24 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME and will be available on SHOWTIME ANYTIME and On Demand through May 16.
Barry Tompkins called the ShoBox action from ringside with Farhood and former World Champion Raul Marquez serving as expert analysts. The executive producer was Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.