WBO No.1-ranked Ricardo “Hindu” Espinoza (23-2, 20 KOs) probably had to work harder than he wanted to, but still managed to successfully defend his WBO-NABO Latino Bantamweight Championship for the second time with a tenth-round stoppage of a game Ricardo “El Matematico” Nuñez (29-9, 23 KOs).
Fighting in the main event of the “Rumble at the Rock IV” event, presented by Kris Lawrence and The Heavyweight Factory and All Star Boxing at the Hard Rock Event Center at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., Espinoza finally broke open a grueling affair with a barrage of shots that left Nunez helpless along the ropes.
It was a much tougher “stay busy” fight than customary for a #1 contender with a title challenge on the horizon. The two seasoned pros exchanged with authority over and over, with Panama’s Nunez winning his share of the trades.
But, in the end, the world-class power that has the Tijuana native Espinoza on the cusp of a world title came through in the form of an extended barrage that finished things a minute earlier than scheduled.
In the 10-round welterweight co-main event, Miami via Puerto Rico’s Derrieck Cuevas (20-0-1, 14 KOs) put in a solid night of work in outpointing Pembroke Pines, Florida’s Ed “The Lion” Paredes (38-8-1, 25 KOs), via unanimous 10-round decision.
Realizing his power may not end things early, Cuevas stayed busy and bulled the slick veteran Paredes into the ropes repeatedly where he went to work on head and body.
Paredes kept the young prospect honest with his own respectable output.
It was an experience fight and a test passed for the up-and-coming Derrieck Cuevas.
The scores were 98-92, 98-92 and 97-93.
Miami via Kazakhstan featherweight Mussa Tursyngaliyev (9-0, 6 KOs) survived a scare in his four-round showdown with Vincent Jennings (6-6-2, 4 KOs) of Kentwood, Michigan.
Tursyngaliyev looked to be cruising to an easy win when he was abruptly dropped for an eight-count in round three.
To his credit, Tursyngaliyev righted the ship and took control back in the final round. The scores were unanimous for Tursyngaliyev 38-37, 38-37 and 38-37.
A welterweight grudge remains unsettled as undefeated Chris Velez (10-0-2, 6 KOs) of Fort Lauderdale fought to a split draw with comebacking Ryan Pino (8-4-1, 4 KOs) of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Pino, coming off three straight losses in a disastrous 2018, was the slicker fighter. He caught the hard-charging Velez with frequent shots coming in. The local fighter kept the pressure on and trapped his foe against the ropes with regularity.
An intense fight with genuine mutual dislike was marred by the questionable scoring of an obviously close fight by two judges (a horrendous score of 60-54 then an almost as bad 59-55 the other way was nullified by a 57-57).
In a prelim-fight battle for the ages, the undefeated record of Miami’s popular Ulysses Diaz (9-1, 8 KOs) went up in smoke via a majority decision loss against Sinaloa, Mexico’s Gilberto Rubio (9-7, 6 KOs).
The two light heavyweight sluggers threw defense and caution to the wind and proceeded to wage a heart-stopping back-and-forth war that had the Florida crowd standing throughout. For six thrilling rounds, one roundhouse swing landed cleanly to the jaw was answered by an equally nasty return of fire.
Diaz’s usual formula of appearing to gas out and then, just as everything seems lost, using his considerable power to pull out a miracle failed him this time. His extended rally in round four didn’t get the job done against the iron-chinned Rubio.
The courageous battlers kept trading bombs right to the finish. In the end, Rubio had banked too many early rounds to be overtaken by Diaz’s late-fight heroics. The scores were
58-56, 58-56 and 57-57.
Popular Miami featherweight Luis Melendez (now 4-1, 3 KOs) won a highly entertaining four-round majority decision over Mexico City’s quick-fisted Isaac Cerda (6-4, 1 KO). The two warriors tore into each other and each landed their share of bombs. Melendez appeared to hurt Cerda in round four with a hook. The scores were a slightly off-base 40-36, 39-37 and 38-38. Both fighters deserve credit and each had their moments in this exciting prelim.
Cuban super featherweight Hairon “El Maja” Socarras (21-0-3, 13 KOs) took a hard-fought eight-round unanimous decision over Mexico City’s Carlos “Fino” Ruiz (16-5-2, 6 KOs) by scores of 79-73, 77-75 and 77-75. Socarras was the more accurate fighter in a high-activity and good-skills pro fight. Ruiz, a former WBO Latino Super Featherweight Champion, did not go easily and fought hard in every round.
Local light heavyweight Blake Davis (1-0, 1 KO) made his four-round pro debut a successful one by scoring a TKO 1 (time 2:48) over Miami veteran Yendris Rodriguez Valdez (now 2-5, 2 KOs). The tall and lean Davis found the counter right hand midway through the opening round and fed it to the wild-swinging Rodriguez Valdez, producing two knockdowns. After the second one, the fight was rightfully waved off. Davis is very popular and sold a great many tickets to his adoring fans.
In a good-action bantamweight eight-rounder, Miami’s undefeated Jorge De Jesus Romero (14-0, 10 KOs) won a good learning fight against a tougher-than-expected Felipe Rivas (17-24-4, 11 KOs) of El Paso. The two scrappers exchanged hard shots throughout with Romero just a bit cleaner and busier in most rounds. The local product seemed to sting Rivas with an uppercut/right hand late in round three. Romero surely picked up some veteran tricks from the tough Texan who seemed to forget the “out of town opponent” script and came out swinging to win. The scores were 79-73, 78-74 and 78-74 unanimous for Romero.
Miami-based featherweight action hero Jessy Cruz (16-7-1, 7 KOs) extended his winning streak to four with a six-round unanimous decision over Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico’s Eduardo Melendez (5-25, 1 KO). Cruz showed off some seemingly improved boxing skills in this one, by closing the distance on a tall and rangy foe to bang hard combinations on the inside. The scores were 60-53, 59-54 and 59-54.
Miami welterweight JD Martinez (11-1, 9 KOs) got back in the win column with a quick body shot knockout over Matias Garcia (17-17-1, 14 KOs) of Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua. The TKO 1 end came at 1:27.
In the opening fight of the night, a four-round super welterweight bout, Miami’s Eduardo Perez Diaz (8-0, 4 KOs) stayed undefeated with a four-round unanimous (scores: 40-34, 40-34- and 39-35 beating of Managua, Nicaragua’s Sergio Gomez (20-26, 16 KOs). Perez Diaz was too much everything for the tough Nicaraguan.