Nearly five years after breaking Glendale’s 62-year ban on boxing events, Art of Boxing Promotions has continued to keep the sweet science a prominent part of the Jewel City’s sporting culture.
The name may have changed, as Saturday night’s card at the Glendale Civic Auditorium was billed as Glendale Fight Night on the heels of four installments of the promotion’s Glendale Glory series.
PHOTOS: Boxing Night at Glendale Civic Auditorium
But the brand of entertainment that Glendale-based Art of Boxing and its frequent partner Bash Boxing have become known for – making some of the sport’s promising up and comers accessible for an intimate fan viewing experience right here in town -- remains the same as ever.
Saturday’s 10-bout card was co-promoted by Top Rank and its main and co-main events were televised live by Univision. The former, however, ended on a thoroughly anticlimactic note when Alejandro Rodriguez was forced to retire due to a hand injury suffered in the sixth round of his eight-round super featherweight bout against rising knockout artist Jose Felix, who took home a technical knockout win.
Despite being the underdog, Rodriguez (21-15) was acquitting himself admirably enough and keeping the fight fairly close up until appearing to break a finger on his right hand with 1 minute 41 seconds left in the sixth.
Felix (27-1-1, 22 KOs) could never find much of an opening against Rodriguez’ guard, but succeeded in keeping him under pressure with quick right counters and an effective retreating jab, as he opened a trickle of blood from Rodriguez’ nose in the third round.
Felix closed the fourth round with a solid 1-2 combo that elicited a blood-streaked grin from Rodriguez as both men backed away to their corners at the bell.
Rodriguez had his best round in the fifth, backing Felix into a corner and unloading some shots as Felix covered up.
The co-main event between lightweights Ivan Najera (14-0, eight KOs) of San Antonio and Stan Martyniouk (13-2, two KOs) of Antelope went the distance, with Najera claiming the victory by split decision after eight rounds of clashing styles that didn’t always make for the smoothest action.
The shorter Najera’s gameplan of burrowing his way to the inside to unleash a body blow-uppercut combo in close quarters was frequently met by Martyniouk’s quick left jab or short rapid-fire combos. But Martyniouk’s most favored defense was incessant holding that, at times, brought the pace of the fight to halting tedium.
The fight opened up in the final two rounds with neither fighter perhaps certain they had done enough.
On the undercard, middleweight Esquiva Falcao, who won a silver medal for Brazil in the 2012 London Olympic Games, showed he’s handling the transition to the pros adeptly. The flashy southpaw knocked out Malcolm Terry of Memphis with a straight left that sat him straight down into the ropes.
It was also all Falcao (4-0, two KOs) in the first round, which included a Falcao knockdown and ended with the Brazilian teeing off on Terry (6-4, six KOs) in the corner while he hunkered down in a full defensive posture waiting for the bell.
Freddie Roach pupil Liam Vaughn out of England came out of his four-round welterweight tilt on top with a unanimous decision. The fight contained good action throughout with both fighters content to mix it up in the middle of the ring. Vaughn’s superior quickness and accuracy were the keys to his improvement to 9-2 (two KOs), as he consistently answered Saul Benitez’ (3-6-1) left-jab lead in with snappy combos in every round.
Russian prospect Alex Zubov (5-0, four KOs) was busier and better than Harvey Jolly (15-20-1, seven KOs) throughout the night’s opening cruiserweight bout and while underwhelming overall, did enough to clearly outpoint the journeyman from Detroit over six rounds. He won every round on all three judges’ cards despite being shaken and bloodied by an accidental head butt in the fifth.
With just three fights on their collective record entering Saturday’s lightweight clash, Luis Sedano and Luis Diaz may have been the least experienced fighters on the card, but were two of the most exuberant.
While their frantic exchange was far from a showcase of technical precision, it engaged the crowd, which rallied to Sedano’s cause with chants of “Smokey, Smokey” as he chased Diaz around the ring in the latter two rounds. The Duarte native Sedano succeeded in coming back from a first-round knockdown to claim a narrow unanimous decision and improve to 3-0, while Diaz fell to 1-1.
The battle of unbeaten welterweights Benjamin Whitaker (7-1, two KOs) and Egidijius Kavaliauskas (7-0, five KOs) ended badly for Whitaker, who was knocked out in the fifth round.