Sunday, September 30, 2018

Premier Boxing Champions on FS1 Presents Figueroa vs. Escandon Recap

Premier Boxing Champions on FS1 emanated this evening from the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA for a rare Sunday event. The card was originally supposed to be headlined by a special attraction pitting Victor Ortiz against John Molina Jr., a resident of nearby Covina, CA. The clash between Ortiz and Molina was cancelled Wednesday after Ortiz turned himself into police as a result of felony warrant that was issued for his arrest. The warrant stemmed from an investigation by police that lead to Ortiz being charged with three counts of sexual assault. Ortiz was released after he posted the $100,000 bail, however, PBC still elected to remove him from the card. This proved to be a disappointing turn of events for Molina, who after an intense training camp, was primed to come into Ontario with his eyes set on defeating Ortiz and potentially propelling himself back into the title conversation.

With the cancellation of the feature bout, lightweight contenders Brandon Figueroa and Oscar Escandon were promoted to the main event of the evening, with heavyweights Joe Joyce and Iago Kiladze slotted in the co-main event.

James DeGale (24-2-1, 14 KOs) vs. Fidel Monterrosa Munoz (39-18-1)
Eight Rounds, Light Heavyweights
Decision: James DeGale via KO in Round Three.


DeGale entered this contest on the heels of a unanimous decision victory over Caleb Truax back in April. This victory, however, was preceded by back to back fights where the judges’ scorecards left much to be desired from DeGale’s perspective as he lost a majority decision to Truax in December 2017, and fought to a majority draw with the fierce Badou Jack back in January of 2017.

Viktor Slavinskyi (6-0, 3 KOs) vs. Mike Fowler (6-17, 2 KOs)
Six Rounds, Super Featherweights

Decision: Viktor Slavinskyi via RTD in Round Three

Something I discovered noteworthy prior to this bout was that it marked the seventh time (yes you read that correctly) Mike Fowler fought this year and he is scheduled to fight again on October 20.  As anticipated, Slavinskyi dominated this bout with punishing blows for all three rounds.  Fowler was unable to mount any offense as he was continuously walked down and his corner elected not to continue after round three.

Live on FS1:

Arnold Alejandro (7-0, 6 KOs) vs. Francisco Camacho (7-8-1, 3 KOs)

Six Rounds, Featherweights
Decision: Arnold Alejandro via KO in round Five


Camacho came out in round one with a game plan to use his slight reach advantage and establish the jab early. Unfortunately for Camacho, the more polished southpaw, Alejandro brought his power game frequently and accurately. Camacho displayed a strong jaw as he was the recipient of several jarring shots, but finally a stiff left from Alejandro dropped Camacho to his knee at which point the ref had seen enough.

Omar Juarez (debut) vs. Matt Gaver (0-1)
Four Rounds, Super Lightweights
Decision: Omar Juarez via UD (39-37, 39-37, 40-36)


These competitors appeared to be shot out of a cannon as they virtually sprinted at each other at the sound of the opening bell. Gaver appeared to be more aggressive as he continued to come forward for much of the contest. However, for as many punches he threw, he did not land many as he missed badly at times leaving himself exposed. While Juarez was not as busy, he landed more of his shots, and this is what counted to the judges in the end.

Kody Davies (7-0, 3 KOs) vs. Jerhed Fenderson (4-6, 2 KOs)
Eight Rounds, Light Heavyweights
Decision: Kody Davies via UD (80-72, 80-72, 80-72)


There isn’t much to say about this bout. Davies didn’t mount much offense, but it was more than Fenderson. Fenderson shook off everything Davies threw at him and survived all eight rounds. The few times he attempted any offense, he telegraphed it. 

Jesse Rodriguez (6-0, 4 KOs) vs. Edwin Reyes (8-3-3, 5 KOs)
Eight Rounds, Light Flyweights
Decision: Jesse Rodriguez via UD (80-72, 80-72, 79-73)


This fight headlined the prelims telecast on FS1, and pitted undefeated prospect Jesse Rodriguez against Edwin Reyes.

Reyes did a nice job of preventing Rodriguez from gaining a little space to work in rounds one through four. However, in rounds five and six Rodriguez was able to land some nice combos and establish his dominance in the ring. Reyes would storm back in round seven as the two stood toe to toe in the center of the ring exchanging blows until the sound of the bell. The eighth and final round saw Reyes attempt to go back to his comfort zone of close quarter fighting. However, Rodriguez, who appeared much fresher at this juncture, was able to land several punishing blows with pinpoint accuracy.

Stephen Fulton (13-0, 6 KOs) vs. German Meraz (61-49-2, 38 KOs)
Eight Rounds, Featherweights
Decision: Stephen Fulton via UD (80-71, 80-71, 80-71)


It was apparent that this fight was intended to test Stephen Fulton by matching him up with a fighter who would be difficult to put away, and potentially take him the distance. Meraz entered this contest with 112 fights already under his belt, so there was no question of his toughness. The polished Fulton was able to cut off the ring and land clean shots through all eight rounds, so this one was really a no doubter for the judges at ringside.

Efe Ajagba (6-0, 5 KOs) vs. Nick Jones (7-0, 5 KOs)
Six Rounds, Heavyweights
Decision: Efe Ajagba via KO in Round One


The towering Efe Ajagba entered this fight with an unblemished record in his fourth contest of the year. Ajagba’s most recent “fight” back in August drew mainstream media attention because he won by DQ in a record ONE SECOND after his opponent, Curtis Harper, immediately walked out of the ring following the opening bell because of a dispute over his pay. Ajagba, like Joe Joyce featured on this PBC card in the co-main event, competed in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games for his native Nigeria, albeit an effort that saw him fall short of a medal after he was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Ajagba’s opponent, Nick Jones, also entered with an unscathed record but it was apparent from the opening bell that he was overmatched. The 6’5” Ajagba continued to walk Jones down and size him up before he finally landed a devastating right to end this bout in the first round.

Jose Balderas (4-0) vs. Ivan Martino (3-2, 3 KOs)
Four Rounds, Bantamweights
Decision: Jose Balderas via UD (40-36, 40-37, 39-37)


Both fighters went toe to toe for the entire four round affair, and while Balderas appeared to be more disciplined, Martino landed the heavier shots. The judges and the fans in attendance seemed to share a difference of opinions as the decision was announced for Balderas, and  accompanied by a shower of boos.

Joey Spencer (4-0, 4 KOs) vs. Cory Macon (0-2-1)
Four Rounds, Middleweights
Decision: Joey Spencer via KO in Round One


Spencer embarked on a full throttle assault from the get go, and quite honestly, Macon didn’t stand much of a chance. Spencer staggered Macon with a couple left hooks, and like a shark smelling blood in the water, he sealed the deal with a straight right that Macon could not recover from.

Joe Joyce (5-0, 5 KOs) vs. Iago Kiladze (26-3, 18 KOs)
Ten Rounds, Heavyweights
Decision: Joe Joyce via KO in Round Five


This bout was only the sixth professional fight for 33-year-old British fighter Joe Joyce. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist squared off with 29 fight ring veteran Iago Kiladze. Kiladze, competing for the third time in 2018, entered on a two fight losing streak-both knockout losses to Adam Kownacki and Michael Hunter.

Joe Joyce certainly looked every part of the Olympic silver medalist in this bout. Making his United States debut, Joyce put on a clinic for the fans in attendance as Kiladze lost by KO after being knocked down for the third time.

Brandon Figueroa (16-0, 11 KOs) vs. Oscar Escandon (25-4, 17 KOs)
Ten Rounds, Super Bantamweights
Decision: Brandon Figueroa via KO in Round 10


This 10 round contest marked the first time Figueroa was scheduled to fight more than eight rounds, and was his third fight of 2018. Figueroa last stepped into the square circle on August 4th when he defeated Luis Roy Suarez Cruz by first round TKO. Oscar Escandon on the other hand, had not tasted victory since he became interim WBC World Featherweight Champion with a seventh round KO of Robinson Castellanos back in March of 2016. Since then, he suffered consecutive setbacks to Gary Russell Jr. in May 2017 by seventh round TKO and Tugstsogt Nyambayar in May 2018 by third round KO.

Both of these fighters came prepared for an all out war. Despite the close proximity these pugilists maintained as they went to round 10, this was a very entertaining fight. It also appeared that Escandon came in with a bit of a chip on his shoulder as he was repeatedly warned by the referee through the first half of the bout for low blows and throwing punches after the bell. When Figueroa was finally able to create a little space between Escandon and himself with his jab in round 10, he slipped in a devastating uppercut that dropped Escandon to the canvas. Escandon attempted to get back to his feet but as he staggered and fell back down, the ref called a stop to the action. This fight was a strong conclusion to the PBC on FS1, and was a more than suitable replacement for the main event.






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