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  Cancio Upends Machado;
Vargas Survives Manzanilla


By Albert Castillo
Photos: William Trillo

 

From Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio CA, Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions featured a main event that was one for the archives. Before a packed crowd hometown underdog Andrew Cancio (20-4-2, 15 KO’s) of Blythe, CA shocked the world by knocking out heavily favored Puerto Rican Alberto Machado (21-1, 17 KO’s) to steal Machado’s Super Featherweight Championship belt.
 

In the first round Machado dropped Cancio with a sharp left uppercut. However, Cancio popped up and began to mount a massive attack against the former champion. For the next three rounds Cancio shot crisp combinations and devastating body punches that slowly weakened Machado.
 

Then, in the fourth round, with the crowd behind him, chanting his nickname, “Chango, Chango,” Cancio caught Machado with a devastating punch to the midsection dropping Machado to one knee. Cancio’s hometown crowd erupted. Machado got up but was dropped again with another body punch. By this time the crowd was on its feet clamoring for a knockout. Once again Machado clambered to his feet only to get destroyed by another Cancio gut punch that crumbled him into the ropes at which time the referee called a halt to the bout at 2:16 of the fourth round and pandemonium ensued as the crowd cheered their hometown hero.
 

Cancio’s amazing win is a huge upset victory and he is now the first world champion from Blythe, California. After the fight an elated Cancio exclaimed, “This was FIGHT OF MY LIFE. I feel extremely great winning this world title by knockout. I did not let this fight go to the judges’ scorecards. It’s been a long road and it felt like we thought it would: unbelievable. For me to execute a plan like we did feels great. He caught me early, but it was a flash knockdown. I got my legs back and got my composure. I was never out the fight. I’m extremely happy.”

"I felt weak in there," said Alberto Machado. "The rematch would be nice, but I think I have to move up to 130 pounds. We will see."
 

In the co-main event Mexico’s City’s Rey Vargas (33-0, 22 KO’s) staved off wildman Venezuelan Franklin Manzanilla (18-5, 17 KO’s) to maintain his Super Bantamweight Championship. Vargas, with cuts over both eyes and a cut behind his ear got dropped in the 2nd round by a Manzanilla left hook. Vargas made the 8 count and held off Manzanilla for the rest of the round.
 

Manzanilla fought like a man possessed charging Vargas at every opportunity throwing wild punches from all directions hoping to catch him. Vargas maintained his cool under those attacks and landed well placed combinations to the head and chin of Manzanilla as he charged in.
 

Manzanilla had two points deducted for hitting behind the head and punching on the break but it didn't make a difference on the scorecards as judges had Vargas running away with a unanimous decision – 117-108, 117-108, 117-108.
 

"I feel good but he fought too dirty," said Rey Vargas. "I like to fight clean, not dirty like he did. It was a complicated and he's tough. But I adjusted to his style, and that's how I won. I wished he would have fought cleaner, but I did what I could.”

"I felt uncomfortable because he was taller than me, said Franklin Manzanilla. "I haven't fought anyone that tall before. I hurt him in the second round and I tried to continue that momentum. I feel I did well."
 

World Featherweight Contender Jojo Diaz Jr. (28-1, 14 KO’s) demonstrated his pedigree by taking apart Charles Huerta (20-6 12 KO’s) and garnering a unanimous decision in this 10 round bout. Diaz stepped up in weight making his debut as a super featherweight.
 

Other than a casual first round Diaz pitched a shutout proving that he is on a championship level. Charles Huerta for his part held on for ten rounds showing that he could take a punch. Diaz landed blistering left hands followed by crisp right hooks consistently throughout the fight. Unfortunately for Huerta he found out that Diaz is on another level and completely out of his league.
 

Diaz quick hands were on display for which Huerta had no answer. Judges missed the shutout giving one round to Huerta – 99-91, 99-91, 99-91.
 

"I did really good," said Joseph Diaz. "I moved up in weight and showcased in this new 130-pound division. I was able to look good and push back a super featherweight in Huerta. I had him hurt a few times, but I couldn't finish him because he's such a warrior. At the end of the day, I had to do my job and that's what I did."

"It was the right decision," said Charles Huerta. "Besides the first round, I took the pedal off the gas. I waited too much. He countered me well, and I let him dictate the pace. I had a 17-month layoff, and I feel I did well. I hope I come back for another opportunity soon."
 

Mexican Lightweight Adrian “EL Diamante” Estrella (29-3, 10 KO’s) captured the WBC Continental America’s Lightweight Title by outpointing previously undefeated fellow Mexican Oscar Duarte, (15-1-1, 10 KO’s) with a split decision win.
 

Their styles did not make for a good match up. El Diamante appeared to be in survival mode from the first round continuously circling the mat. Duarte could have done a better job of cutting off the ring but instead continued to follow Estrella as he moved about. Duarte gave up at least the first three rounds as Estrella peppered jabs and Duarte threw punches but did not connect. Estrella was slick and moved well.
 

He was difficult to hit but by the fourth round Duarte seemed to be connecting as Estrella continued to run. The fight was sluggish until the last round when Estrella decided to stand and fight. It was too little to late for either fighter to impress the crowd. When the scorecards were read the fans were astonished to hear that the decision was given to Estrella. Fans booed mercilessly. Back to the drawing board for Oscar Duarte who deserved at least a draw tonight.
 

"This is something I've worked hard to get for many years," said Adrian Estrella. "Working my distance was key in this fight. It's hard to knockout Oscar Duarte. And he was getting stronger in every round. So, I decided to jab and work the distance. I got a split decision, but that's okay. As long as I get the win, that's fine with me."

"I don't think the decision was right," said Oscar Duarte. "I thought it was a draw. I was pressuring the whole time. I feel I need to learn a lot more."
 

In the opening bout of the evening “Crazy A” Azat Hovhannisyan (16-3, 13 KO’s) was on his A game as he stopped tough Filipino fighter, Lolito Sonsona (22-3-4), 9 KO’s). Azat was all business as he unleashed a relentless attack of vicious combinations that shook Sonsona time and again.

Finally in the fifth round Crazy A’s right hand found a home in the gut of Sonsona which dropped him for an 8 count. Moments later another right hand in the same spot crumbled Sonsona to the canvas. He didn't get up. “Crazy A” by knockout at 2:23 of the fifth round.
 

"I feel good about the fight," said Azat Hovhannisyan. "I trained hard for this fight. I'm surprised [Sonsona] prepared so well. I wish I could have looked better, but a win is a win and a knockout is a knockout. I hope to look better next time!"
 

In this super middleweight match up Tureano Johnson (20-2-1, 14 KO’s) had his hands full with Mexican Fernando, “I didn’t come here to lay down” Castaneda (26-13-1, 17 KO’s) ending with a split draw over eight rounds. Johnson landed often and early with numerous uppercuts.

He often was the aggressor in the early rounds. Castaneda fought valiantly with a big heart as he landed crisp shots to Johnson’s body. In the seventh round Castaneda landed some heavy right hands to the head of Johnson. But it was the eighth round that gave underdog Castaneda the draw. He let it all hang out as he continued to batter the head of Johnson.
 

Ending in a split draw judges had it - 77-75 Johnson, 77-75 – Castaneda, and 76-76. It is this kind of match-up that make the fans appreciate Golden Boy Promotions fight cards.

"I want to thank God for this opportunity," said Tureano Johnson. I want to thank Golden Boy and DAZN. He [Castaneda] did an awesome job. It is a disappointment for me, but now I'm looking for bigger and better things. It wasn't me overlooking him. My corner was there. I didn't execute the way I should have. I wasn't listening to my corner. Next time I will do better. Tureano will be back."

"We did a good fight," said Fernando Castaneda. "It was against a fighter without a lot of experience. I want a rematch because I did a good job. I worked him to the body and wore him down. I want to thank Golden Boy for this opportunity."
 

In the last fight of the evening Coachella’s Rommel Caballero (5-0, 4 KO’s) continued on his unbeaten path making short work of Javier Rojas (1-3, 1 KO) dropping him twice in the first round. After the second knockdown Rojas did not get up.
 

Caballero by knockout at 1:58 of the first round. "It feels great coming back," said Rommel Caballero. "I'm back doing what I love and what I do best: boxing. I want to dedicate this fight to an important person who passed away, Marcos Brambila."



 

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