By Fiona Manning
San Diego resident Danny Perez failed in his bid to wrestle the World Boxing Organization welterweight championship from Antonio Margarito in ‘Latin Fury II’ at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim on Saturday night.
Margarito retained his world title with quiet confidence and authority in a lopsided decision over Perez who started hard and fast in the first round, but then faded for the remaining 11 rounds.
Televised world-wide by Showtime, the Pond show drew a big crowd plus some of boxing’s biggest names who showed up to support the Latin fighters headlining the show.
WBO spokesman and NABO Executive Director Mark Reels who was ringside for the fight said Margarito must next fight his mandatory challenger, Ger-many’s Michelle Trabant.
“Trabant is stalling,” said Reels, so if it isn’t Trabant, his next fight will be with Sergio Martinez of Argentina.”
Margarito cemented his tenure as WBO champ in his impressive second defense of his title. Now he must face the division’s toughest men. Will they want to face him? Time will tell.
As for Perez, he looked great in the first round, wobbling Margarito, but then slipped into counter-punch mode in the second, third and fourth rounds, letting Margarito control the action.
It looked like Perez, who fought and lost to Margarito three years ago, was going to be a good test for Margarito, but nobody expected the dominant display the champion delivered.
Some of the world’s top boxing superstars showed up in force for ‘Latin Fury II’ among them, Bones Adams, Jorge Paez, Alejandro “Cobrita” Gonzalez, Jose Celaya, Martin Castillo (whose best friend and stablemate Israel Vasquez is sparring with Johnny Tapia in Big Bear), Yoni Vargas and former IBF feather champ Manuel Medina, still shaking his head over his robbery decision-loss to Johnny Tapia earlier this year.
Medina told LA PRENSA he will fight NABF feather champ Juan Manuel Marquez for the vacant title in January.
“I’m glad Tapia was just stripped of the title because he isn’t really the champion. To me, Marquez has earned his right to fight for the title and so have I.”
Coachella resident Antonio Diaz, who was stopped by Margarito in March, sat eagle-eyed ringside with his brother, lightweight contender Julio ‘Kid’ Diaz watching every punch.
Diaz said he’s anxious for a rematch which was why he drove out to Anaheim from Coachella. “I want to get Margarito’s attention,” he said. “I want that rematch.”
Most observers were stunned to see Perez offering little except a good chin by way of a defense. As the barrage continued into the fifth round, Margarito increased the heat, pinning Perez against the ropes for a barrage of punches. Margarito was just getting started.
When he crossed himself before the start of the seventh, you knew that Perez knew he was in trouble. Margarito was landing more punches, wearing Perez out against the ropes. You had to wonder how much more Perez could take as the ref hovered, poised to intervene at any moment.
Perez looked increasingly dispirited as the fight progressed. Margarito’s trainer Javier Capetillo went hoarse from his constant screaming in the corner. Perez was hugging and holding and holding and holding...the crowd chanted “boring” but they weren’t the ones taking all those punches.
As the fight moved to the championship rounds, Perez hardly threw a punch and those slamming body shots were starting to take their toll. When Margarito moved upstairs for a fresh assault, it looked like the end would soon be here.
Somehow Perez survived the distance. “I can’t believe this fight,” Antonio Diaz said. “I was expecting much more competitive action. Their first fight was pretty good but this has been so one-sided. Margarito seems so much stronger and much, much faster.”
The 12th and final round didn’t come soon enough for Perez. He fought better than he had for the second half of the fight but it was all academic. The scores were in: 118-110 and 120-108 (twice).
Margarito improves to 27-3, 18 KOs. Perez drops to 27-3, 17 KOs.
After the fight, Margarito said he felt Perez had disrespected him and taken him too lightly but this seems to be untrue. “I’m not saying he didn’t train,” said Margarito. “I’m saying he didn’t think I would have gotten better in the last three years.”
As for Perez, he admitted that sparring with Oscar de la Hoya may have helped de la Hoya more than it helped him.
“I think I left it in the gym,” he said. “I didn’t feel right tonight. Margarito was the better man in there. It was his night.”
He plans to take a rest, then continue fighting - possibly next at Del Mar Racecourse on a future ESPN2 show.
“He out-hustled me,” said Perez. “He outboxed me. I’m disappointed but this guy’s been fighting a long time. He has a lot more experience than me.
“I thought this was my time. What can I say, it wasn’t my night, but my time will still come.”
In other results: WBA world flyweight champion Eric “Little Hands Of Steel” Morel had to crank it up to stop gutsy Thai title challenger Kaowichit Denkaosaen in the 11th round of a fight Denkaosaen was initially winning.
Morel had to dig deep to retain his crown but managed to put the brakes on Denkaosaen who wowed the crowd from the opening round. Everybody was wondering who the virtually unknown Denkaosaen was before the fight started.
“He gave me a good fight. I admit, he wasn’t what I expected but I wore him down,” Morel said immediately after the fight.
Eager to make an fast impression, Denkaosaen dominated the first five rounds, surprising everybody by stepping up and facing Morel toe to toe from the opening bell and controlling the action from the outset.
Morel had said before the fight that he knew nothing about undefeated PABA (Pan Asian Boxing Association) flyweight champion Denkaosaen. Maybe he should have watched his tapes.
Denkaosaen certainly seemed unfazed about facing “Little Hands Of Steel.” In fact Denkaosaen did a good job of picking his spots, landing a shot flush on Morel’s face, causing his nose to bleed profusely in the first round, possibly breaking it.
The crowd loved Denkaosaen’s gutsiness. Using beautiful combinations, his easy, quick style is reminiscent of Jesus Salud in his prime. Like the old saying goes: never underestimate your opponent.
Denkaosaen said after the fight he simply got tired. Jet lag and the late fight start got to him. “I could tell he was having problems with his right hand, he always has problems with that hand,” said Denkaosaen who has certainly increased his stock with this terrific fight.
The young fighter said he planned to visit Disneyland - for the first time ever, as a “small reward.”
Morel moves up to 32-0, 18 KOs. Denkaosaen dips to 20-1 8 K0s.
The other big gun on this show was world light heavyweight contender Julio Gonzalez who gave a better performance than most against the division’s undisputed superstar Roy Jones Jr, last year.
He may have lost his world championship bid to Jones, but local hero Gonzalez may be the only fighter in town who can keep a fight crowd glued to their seats long after the cameras have left the arena.
Gonzalez stopped hapless Tennessee native Thomas Reid in three rounds, dominating 35-year old Reid from the outset. Reid looks strong but started to cringe from those body shots which headed and landed every which way - no matter what he did to avoid them.
It was a great performance for Gonzalez who looks very sharp and is clearly headed for big things again. He pressed the action vigorously, his trainer Samuel Gomez looking happy with the results of their partnership.
By the third round, Reid was fading fast, Ref David Martinez waited much too long to stop Gonzalez pounding on Reid, but he finally stepped in at 2.13 of the round as ringsiders screamed for the fight to stop.
Gonzalez improves to 31-1, 21 KOs. Reid drops to 29-10-1, 11 KOs.