Rey Vargas outpoints Oscar Negrete, retains junior featherweight title

Boxing


NEW YORK — Junior featherweight world titleholder Rey Vargas, with a significant height and reach advantage, overcame cuts over both eyes and dominated Oscar Negrete to retain his belt on the Miguel Cotto-Sadam Ali undercard on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Vargas, defending his 122-pound title for the second time — both on Cotto undercards — won 120-108, 119-109 and 119-109. ESPN.com also had it for Vargas 118-110.

Vargas (31-0, 22 KOs), who is much taller and has a longer reach, tried to keep Negrete at the end of his jab, while Negrete tried to get on the inside.

Negrete (17-1, 7 KOs), who moved up from bantamweight for the title opportunity, had some success, but the height difference of at least 3 inches caused Negrete to hit Vargas low a few times, and he complained to referee Ricky Gonzalez.

Vargas, 26, of Mexico, continually landed left hooks to the body and head, while Negrete could do little more than try to make it a messy fight because he had so many problems with Vargas’ size advantage.

Negrete, 30, a Colombia native fighting out of Rosemead, California, opened a cut over Vargas’ left eye with an accidental head butt in the seventh round, but it didn’t appear to significantly bother Vargas, as they traded back and forth in one of the better action rounds of the fight.

Vargas, trained by Hall of Famer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain, suffered a terrible cut over the left eye from another accidental head butt in the eighth round, and Gonzalez called time out for the doctor to examine the wound. But it did little to deter Vargas, as he kept punching and held off the aggressive Negrete.

“He was a very dirty fighter,” Vargas said. “It was really hard to find my rhythm in the first couple of rounds. He’s not a very good fighter.”

Acosta KOs Alejo for junior flyweight title

Angel Acosta dominated the fight with Juan “Pinky” Alejo and then knocked him out with a clean left hand to the chin in the 10th round to win a vacant junior flyweight world title.

Acosta (17-1, 17 KOs), the much sharper puncher, had Alejo in trouble several times before stopping him. In the fifth round, he worked him over to the body and peppered him with head shots. By the end of the round, Alejo was cut over the right eye.

He continued to take it to Alejo (24-5-1, 14 KOs) round in and round out and clipped him with many hard left hooks that knocked him back.

In the 10th round, he caught Alejo clean on the chin with a left hook, and he dropped to all fours. He tried to get up but was very wobbly, and referee Benjy Esteves counted him out at 1 minute, 33 seconds.

Acosta was way ahead on all three scorecards — 90-81, 89-82 and 89-82 — at the time of the knockout.

It was Acosta’s second shot at a world title. In his previous fight, he traveled to Japan and lost a unanimous decision to Kosei Tanaka on May 20.

“It’s taken me five years to get here, and I’m cherishing this moment for me and for Puerto Rico,” Acosta said. “I’ve learned a lot since my last fight for a world title against Kosei Tanaka, and this fight proves that I learned and fixed all I needed to win a world championship. My next steps will be up to my promoters, but I know I am in good hands.”

Acosta, 27, a Cotto protégé from Puerto Rico, and Alejo, 33, of Mexico, were originally scheduled to fight for a vacant interim 108-pound title because world titleholder Tanaka (10-0, 6 KOs), of Japan, was sidelined because of a jaw injury suffered in his last fight. However, a few days ago Tanaka announced that he had relinquished the title in order to move up to flyweight and pursue a world title in a third weight class. Tanaka’s decision allowed Acosta and Alejo to have their bout upgraded to be for the full title.

It was Alejo’s second defeat in a world title fight, after he dropped a unanimous decision challenging Donnie Nietes for a junior flyweight title in October 2015.

  • Santa Ana, California, featherweight contender Ronny Rios (29-2, 13 KOs) rolled to a one-sided decision victory against Deivis Julio (19-4, 11 KOs), 36, of Colombia. Rios won 100-90, 99-91 and 97-93 on the scorecards. He pounded Julio to the body and head throughout the fight, though he landed a very low left hand below Julio’s belt in the seventh round, and Julio took much of the five-minute recovery period to shake off the foul.

    Rios, 27, shook off a loss in his previous fight when he challenged junior featherweight world titleholder Vargas on Aug. 26 and lost a unanimous decision.

    “It was an ugly win, but we got to accomplish it on the undercard of Miguel Cotto,” Rios said. “He was a southpaw, with an awkward style. He was also a veteran, so he had his little tricks. Overall, this was a huge motivation, and I’m just glad to get back in my groove.”

  • Brooklyn, New York, junior welterweight Zachary Ochoa (18-1, 7 KOs), 25, of Brooklyn, New York, put his punches together well and landed many overhand rights in a shutout decision against Erik Martinez (14-10-1, 8 KOs), 26, of Mexico. Ochoa won 60-54 on all three scorecards as he won his second fight in a row since suffering an upset seventh-round knockout loss to Yves Ulysse Jr. in March. Martinez lost his third fight in a row and for the fifth time in his past six fights.

    “This puts me in a great spot in my career,” Ochoa said. “I was shaking off a lot of dust since I haven’t been able to fight consistently, but this proves to me that I’m still worthy of the sport. I still have work to do, but when I was able to land my shots, I was able to connect them crisp and effectively. I hope that I’ll be able to fight a lot more this year.”

  • Welterweight Aaron McKenna, 18, a top amateur from Ireland who won eight Irish national titles and recently signed with Golden Boy Promotions, had his professional debut against Victor Gaytan (2-3, 1 KO), 25, of Mexico, canceled on Saturday because Gaytan’s medical tests did not come back in time for New York to license him. Golden Boy said it will try to move the bout to the Orlando Salido-Miguel Roman undercard on Dec. 9 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.



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