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  Mexico vs. Philippines Split Main Events On ESPN:
Duno & Duarte Both Earn Unanimous Nods

By Albert Castillo
Photos: William Trillo


In the main event of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN at Fantasy Springs Casino and Resort in Indio, California Philippine Fighter Romero “Ruthless” Duno (17-1, 14 KO’s) continued his winning ways with a unanimous decision over Mexico’s Gilberto “El Flaco” Gonzalez (26-5, 22 KO’s).

Romero looked sharp and was well conditioned. El Flaco was tall and lanky, but wiry and a hardened veteran. Romero landed savage punches to the body and head of El Flaco. He hurt Gonzalez in the 6th round with a crisp right hand to the gut.

However, like a piece of scrap iron Gonzalez was unbreakable and withstood the punishment doled out by Duno. Gonzalez for his part often connected with several clean shots of his own but he was unable to move the Philippine pugilist. Additionally, Gonzalez was much too tentative, waiting for Duno instead of trying to get off first.

By the end of the fight, Gonzalez face was damaged whereas Duno still looked fresh. Judges all had it for Duno, 97-93, 97-93, 98-92.

"Gonzalez is a very good fighter with a good chin," said Romero Duno. "I got him early, but he's very tough, so he lasted the whole fight. This was a big fight for the Philippines and everyone was watching. I hope this takes me to bigger and better fights. I'm ready to come back anytime."

"I felt I won the fight," said Gilberto Gonzalez. "He [Duno] wasn't really landing shots. Even though he dropped me, I won more rounds just by keeping him at a distance. The headbutts were also a constant problem. Just watch the tape."

In the co-main event of the evening, Golden Boy’s popular, unbeaten Oscar Duarte beat up Filipino scrapper Rey Perez (22-10 6 KO’s). It should be noted that Perez tore apart Chimpa Gonzalez in his last fight here at Fantasy Springs Resort. That Rey Perez did not show up.

It was obvious to even the untrained eye that Perez was not here to win and his role was to serve as a human punching bag for Duarte. When a fighter continually backs up, throws pitty pat jabs and rights, with an occasional hard right that either misses or is caught on the gloves you know that fighter has no intentions of winning.

Duarte for his part was on his game delivering ferocious flurries in every round. He dropped Perez twice in the eighth round but couldn't put Perez away.

Duarte is strong, a big puncher, with a conqueror’s mentality. He is a force to be reckoned with and fans look forward to seeing him again. This fight ended with both fighters on their feet. The judges saw it all for Duarte. 98-90, 99-89, 99-89.

“I started cautiously because I needed to find my distance,” said Oscar Duarte. “Once I found my distance, I was able to land more shots. I saw that I was hurting him so I looked for the combination that would drop him, starting from the head and finishing to the body. I look forward to working on my craft and moving on to bigger and better fights.”

Francisco Esparza (8-0-1, 3 KO’s) out of Las Vegas, Nevada, kept his unbeaten record intact by outlasting Texan, Edgar, “The Beast” Cantu in a highly entertaining 8 round slugfest. Esparza, coming off a knockout of previously undefeated Tenochtitlan Nava, had his hands full against a hard-as-nails adversary in Edgar Cantu.

Esparza regularly connected with rights, uppercuts, and hooks to the chin of Cantu. Cantu responded with shots of his own cutting Esparza on the ear and eyebrow.

Although Esparza was leading throughout the fight the mighty mite Texan never quit and landed a huge punch in the last round that caused a stream of blood to trickle down the side of Esparza’s face.

This fight was so competitive that a rematch would be welcomed. In the end, Esparza by unanimous decision, 80-72 on all cards.

“Cantu has got a good chin,” said Francisco Esparza. “I didn’t really feel any of his shots, except for the head-butt which caused the cut above my ear. I don’t know what’s next, but I’m ready for whatever. I trust my team.”

Behind the cheers of a huge fan club Fontana’s Raymond, “Danger” Muratalla (1-0), making his professional debut, scraped together a unanimous decision over a formidable Frenchman in Benjamin Da Cunha (0-4).

Muratalla displayed a sharp offense and sound defensive skills. He ripped punches to the head and body of Da Cunha earning the judges support - 40-36 on all cards.

“I had so much fun in there,” said Muratalla. “This is what I am going to do from now on. I’m so happy my family and friends came out to see me.”

In the opening bout of the evening at Fantasy Springs Casino and Resort in Indio, California, the big men took center stage as light heavyweight Jaba Khositashvili (3-0, 2 KO’s) demolished an outclassed Fabian Valdez (2-3) knocking him out at 0.26 seconds of the second round. The Georgian (Eurasia) born Khositashvili got off to a quick start dropping the Mexican Valdez in the first round following up a punch flush to the nostrils with a body shot to the ribs which had Valdez turning his back on one knee in a neutral corner.

Khositashvili continued battering Valdez in the second round. Referee Jerry Cantu could take no more and when Valdez dropped to one knee once again after eating a right hand the fight was called. Jaba wins his third fight in a row.

“It was a bit difficult because I was not able to fight for a year,” said Jaba Khositashvili. “But now I feel perfect. I’m always ready and can even fight in a week or two.”


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