Jesus Gonzalez won a 12-round unanimous decision over Francisco Sierra in a bloody, hard-fought Friday Night Fights main event on Friday in Phoenix, Ariz.
Gonzalez (27-1, 14 knockouts), a former junior middleweight prospect who now fights at super middleweight, won by scores of 117-109, 116-110 and 115-111 to claim a regional 168-pound title.
Both fighters suffered bad cuts near their left eyes and both were knocked down during the grueling back-and-forth contest. Sierra (24-4-1, 22 KOs), a rugged spoiler from Tepic, Mexico, was put down with a straight left to the liver in the fourth round. However, the bigger man returned the favor in the fifth round by dropping Gonzalez with a sweeping right uppercut.
Sierra, a 6-foot-1 banger who took the fight on a week’s notice, weighed in at 175 pounds, seven pounds over the super middleweight limit. Sierra had to give 20 percent of his purse to Gonzalez for failing to make the contracted weight.
However, the rangy slugger, who has spent most of his career fighting at super middleweight and light heavyweight, probably thought his decision to take the fine instead of killing himself to make 168 pounds was a smart one in the middle rounds. Sierra appeared to be the stronger man at that point in the fight as he stalked the back-pedaling local favorite.
Gonzalez, a 5-foot-10 southpaw from Phoenix who spent most of his career fighting at 154 pounds, had to do some soul searching after getting dropped and backing away from Sierra in round six. The 26-year-old former amateur standout signed a much-ballyhooed deal with Top Rank in 2003.
Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank, called Gonzalez a future star after his early KO victories, but the promotional ompany cut him loose after he was stopped by rugged Mexican Olympian Jose Luis Zertuche in his 14th-pro bout in 2005. Gonzalez won his next seven bouts but lost his heart for the brutal sport in 2008 and retired for 2½ years.
He came back last November and won two bouts before taking on Sierra, but the fire that burned in his belly was tested on Friday. However, Gonzalez showed that he still wants to be a professional fighter, one with a future, in the late rounds of the bout by taking the fight to the bigger man and getting the better of Sierra by letting his hands go more and by landing the cleaner punches.
It’s unlikely that Gonzalez will ever become the star Arum once thought he could be but he proved to be an entertaining fighter with heart, one who can make for good TV in the next year or so.
In the co-featured bout of the ESPN2 broadcast, junior lightweight prospect Yaundale Evans remained undefeated by stopping former 122-pound title challenger Emmanuel Lucero in the sixth round of their scheduled eight-round bout.
Evans (15-0, 11 KOs), a 22-year-old southpaw from Cleveland, Oh., dropped Lucero four times en route to scoring the TKO. A right hook floored the 32-year-old veteran who was stopped by Manny Pacquiao in 2003 down in the first round. A left uppercut dropped Lucero (26-7-1, 14 KOs) in the second. After two knockdowns in the sixth, the last one courtesy of a left to the body-right hook combination, referee Wes Melton had seen enough and waved the bout off at 2:06 of the round.
In the third bout on the entertaining FNF broadcast, unbeaten Canadian prospect Janks Trotter stopped once-beaten Arturo Crespin in the second round of their junior middleweight contest.
Trotter (5-0-1, 5 KOs) dropped the fleshy but capable southpaw with a right hook in the fist round. The 27-year-old technician ended the fight with a right cross that Crespin (6-2-1, 2 KOs), a 21-year-old New Mexico native, walked into 25 seconds into the second round.