Diego Magdaleno advanced his reputation as a top junior lightweight prospect by stopping normally durable and difficult veteran Gilberto Sanchez Leon in the third round of their Friday Night Fights main event in Magdaleno's hometown of Las Vegas on Friday.
Magdaleno (19-0, 7 knockouts) hurt Leon with a left cross and put the Mexican veteran down with a follow-up short right in the final minute of the second round. Leon (31-8-2, 11 KOs) survived the round but the well-rounded southpaw dropped him with a sweeping right hook at the start of the third round.
Magadelno ruthlessly attacked the tall, rangy boxer's midsection during his follow up attack, which drove the 30-year-old spoiler into the ropes. Referee Vic Draculich waved the bout off 49 seconds into the third as soon as Leon slumped to the canvass for the third time in the fight.
Magdaleno's victory was significant in two regards: it took place on ESPN2 in Las Vegas the day before the biggest event of the year (the Pacquiao-Mosley fight), and he easily handled a fighter who had given other prospects a tough fight.
Leon's two most recent losses going into Friday's fight were competitive decisions to featherweight standout Roberto Marroquin (then 18-0) and still-unbeaten 130-pound prospect Eloy Perez (16-0-2).
In the co-featured bout of the Top Rank-promoted show at the Mandalay Bay, featherweight contender Bernabe Concepcion was upset by journeyman Juan Carlos Martinez, who out-boxed and outworked the favored fighter over eight rounds to take a split decision by scores of 75-77, 78-74 and 77-75.
Martinez (19-12-1, 7 KOs), of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, should not have had to sweat out the decision. He soundly outclassed and out-hustled Concepcion (28-5-1, 15 KOs), of Rizal, Philippines. Martinez worked his jab throughout the fight, put punches together well whenever he got in close, and he utilized subtle and effective footwork, easily side stepping the harder-punching Filipino's often telegraphed power shots.
Concepcion, who is managed by Manny Pacquiao and promoted by Top Rank, never really got his power-punching game going, despite trainer Freddie Roach's constant pleading to let his hands go.
In the opening bout of the ESPN2 broadcast, light heavyweight prospect Mike Lee (5-0, 3 KOs) remained undefeated with a hard-fought majority decision over Gilberto Gastelum (0-2), a 33-year-old journeyman from Tucson, Az.
Lee, a Norte Dame graduate who had a late start to the pro game after a limited amateur career, was the more aggressive and busier fighter in and entertaining bout that was competitive through the first two rounds. The 23-year-old finance major from Chicago, stunned Gastelum with an uppercut in the third round and followed up with an effective two-fisted body attack.
Lee, who is trained by Ronnie Shields, pressed Gastelum,throughout the fourth round to earn his fifth pro victory by scores of 40-36, 39-37, and 38-38.
Photos by Chris Farina-Top Rank.