Erika Cruz and Melissa Esquivel entertained without exactly showcasing the sweetest of sciences tonight in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with Cruz retaining her WBA featherweight title via split decision in their DAZN main event.
Cruz (14-1, 3 KO) kept her belt on scores of 97-93 and 98-92 in her favor, with the third judge scoring it 97-93 for Esquivel (12-2-1, 4 KO), which is a card both puzzling and somewhat logical. If a judge simply does not see Cruz’s lunging, awkward attacks as ever being effective, then you can get to a 7-3 Esquivel card, I suppose. I still think it’s wrong, but it is at least something I can reckon with logically, somehow, unlike some awful cards in boxing history.
Bad Left Hook scored it 97-93 for Cruz, for whatever that’s worth.
Cruz, 31, won the WBA belt in April, upsetting Jelena Mrdjenovich on Ring City USA, so this was a successful first defense for her. She wasn’t as good tonight as she was against Mrdjenovich, and Esquivel made some late adjustments and definitely had some clear success late in the fight, but for the most part she just didn’t do enough good work, and while Cruz’s messy attacking style isn’t pretty to look at, it was too effective to shade most rounds to Esquivel.
Undercard Results and Highlights
- Angel Fierro TKO-4 Cristian Bielma: A solid stay-busy sort of win for Fierro (19-1-1, 15 KO), a fight he was favored to win but not a total walkover matchup on paper. Fierro broke through earlier this year on Ring City USA with a comeback knockout of Alberto Machado, and flashed that power and fire again in this fight, putting Bielma (18-4-1, 7 KO) away inside of four rounds.
- Aaron Silva UD-8 Raul Salomon: A really good, well-matched fight between two young, hungry fighters, both came in unbeaten with high knockout percentages, and both got a bit of a reality check about the KOs just not always being there. Salomon (8-1, 8 KO) got the bigger reality check, because he spent a lot of time waiting to land one big shot, as if he figured that would be enough, while Silva (8-0, 6 KO) just kept out-working him. Silva also scored a flash knockdown in the third round. But this was a really good fight and one both of these guys can learn from, and they both still have plenty of potential. Scores were 77-75, 77-74, and 78-73 for Silva. Bad Left Hook had it 78-73 for Silva, as well. I look forward to seeing both of these guys again.
- Gabriel Gollaz TKO-1 Juan Jimenez: I basically just described this fight in the one below this. Gollaz (25-2-1, 15 KO) is a natural 140 lb fighter in his prime, while Jimenez (30-21-3, 20 KO) is an ex-flyweight journeyman, and this was actually the heaviest weight Jimenez had ever fought at in his career. This one ended at 1:59 with Gollaz — whom you may recall from his February win over Robbie Davies Jr in London — just beating Jimenez up.
- Christian Gomez TKO-3 Javier Franco: A physical mismatch as much as anything, as Gomez (22-2-1, 20 KO) is a legitimate welterweight and Franco (35-22-6, 16 KO) is a journeyman who used to fight at flyweight. I mean, there’s Manny Pacquiao, and then there’s, like, everyone else. I regret to inform you Franco is not Manny Pacquiao. He was trying, but he can’t punch at this weight and Gomez can. Gomez was throwing what would have been a body shot when Franco sort of dropped his shoulder, and he caught the right hand there instead, which dropped him and seemed to injury the area. He got up and was willing to continue but was in obvious pain and the referee stopped it at 1:08 of round three.