Antonio Escalante and Miguel Roman in Grueling Grudge Match

By John G. Thompson – Antonio Escalante 23-2 (14 KO’s) and Miguel Roman 28-7 (20 KO’s) put on an excellent display of aggression in front of a lucky crowd at the Don Haskins Convention Center in El Paso, Texas, televised live on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights series. Both men traded punches from the opening bell to the closing, perhaps settling a rivalry between the two which began in their youth. Also in action, prospect “Swift” Danny Garcia 16-0 (10 KO’s) narrowly overcame some adversity in his step up in class against the tough Ashley Theophane 25-4-1 (7 KO’s).

Antonio Escalante came out throwing punches from the start, though Miguel Roman became the aggressor early on, pressing the action by moving forwards, hoping to keep Escalante moving backwards and maybe trying to neutralize his power.. Whether or not this was effective, Escalante continued to throw while backing up. Roman, while throwing slightly less often, seemed to throw the harder and more meaningful punches. Roman landed a particularly hard left hook in the second round which seemed to hurt Escalante, and Roman moved in hoping for the stoppage – with reckless aggression. Escalante capitalized on this, throwing combinations. Another great back and forth ensued in the last ten seconds of the round.

Great action marked the beginning of the third round as Escalante tried to go on the offense more than he had in the prior two rounds. Escalante landed some fantastic shots; however, Roman simply shrugged them off and continued forward. In the fifth, Roman caught Escalante with a left as their feet became tangled and Escalante stumbled backwards. Roman’s pace increased as he landed a hard right and then left. Escalante continued to move throughout the fifth and sixth, though Roman managed to narrow the distance on more than one occasion landing hurtful uppercuts and solid right hooks.

Just as the tide seemed to be turning for Roman, Escalante came out swinging in the seventh round, landing strong combinations. Roman blocked some of it but several shots landed cleanly, forcing Roman to cover up. Escalante then began to press forward; however, Roman simply took his shots and pressed forwards himself, backing Escalante into the ropes. Escalante did not stay there; instead boxing and moving from side to side.

There was no halt to the action in the eighth round as Roman pressed forward landing effective hooks and straight rights. In fact, Roman had just landed an uppercut when Escalante suddenly started throwing, landing a right hook, then left, then right, then left, and another left, and so on until Roman went down. He waited until the count of eight and then got up. Escalante charged in with a great left a hook and a few more punches at the bell. Fans at the Haskins Center in El Paso were on their feet cheering at this point.

Roman pressed forward in the ninth and Escalante seamed content to stick and move, choosing not to exchange. Frustrated, Roman put his hands up in the air to challenge his opponent. Escalante elected to keep moving. Even more frustrated, Roman stopped for perhaps the only ten seconds of the entire fight to cross his arms, glaring at Escalante and daring him to strike. Escalante made a motion as if to throw and Roman did not flinch. Escalante let loose a left hook which Roman blocked just in time. The action resumed as Roman backed Escalante into a corner and both exchanged furious hooks. Escalante moved from the corner and Roman pursued, though Escalante managed to keep landing punches. Roman dug to the body of Escalante who held on for a moment.

These two rivals, who first fought each other in the streets of Mexico as children, touched gloves at the start of the tenth and final round. Escalante began throwing punch after punch in a tremendous flurry, landing several and forcing Roman to grab and hold. Roman forced them into the ropes, perhaps buying time to recover. Escalante continued to throw for a moment, though clearly near exhaustion. Roman responded with the hardest shots he could muster, pushing Escalante back into the ropes and trying to unload. Escalante wisely moved away from the ropes and landed some hard hooks which snapped back his opponent’s head. Roman tried to move forward, but Escalante threw more combination punches. Both men knowing the outcome of the fight could well rest on this round gave it their all right up until the final bell. Judge Levi Martinez scored the bout 97-92, and both Judges Raul Valencia and Heraldo Venzor scored it 96-93, all for the winner by unanimous decision, Antonio Escalante.

In the televised under card, Philadelphian Danny Garcia ran into a tough challenge in London’s Ashley Theophane. The older and more experienced Theophane decided not to play the game of the hard hitting up and comer, instead resorting to “Guerrilla Warfare” as ringside commentator Teddy Atlas joked, opting to throw and then move out of range of Garcia. In the fourth round, however, Garcia stepped up the action. The timing of Garcia’s counters also seemed to improve and Garcia spent the next several rounds alternating between attacking with straight rights and then retreating in order to utilize his counter uppercuts and hooks.

By the seventh round, Theophane’s punches were noticeably wide and Garcia made him pay with counters. At one point Theophane attempted to throw a left hook, but Garcia hit him instead with a left jab to the body, which set up a right cross that staggered Theophane backwards. Garcia went after him looking for the stoppage, though Theophane fought on until the bell rang to end the round.

Theophane landed a good overhand right in the eighth which seemed to hurt Garcia for a moment, but he shook it off and smiled back at Theophane. In the ninth the referee deducted one point from Garcia for a low blow. Knowing the fight was too close to risk a 10-8 round, Garcia fought ferociously in order to win the remainder of the round.

In the tenth and final round, Garcia definitely pushed the action at the start, throwing first and landing hard shots. Theophane came on for a bit working behind his jab, then Garcia went back to work looking to land loaded left hooks. Judge Levi Martinez scored the bout 95-94 for Ashley Theophane. Judge Raul Valencia scored the bout 95-94 for Danny Garcia. Judge Geraldo Venzor scored the bout 96-94, awarding the split decision victory to Danny Garcia.

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