LAS VEGAS — If there was one fight that seemed all but guaranteed to go the distance on the Joseph Agbeko-Abner Mares undercard, it was the scheduled 10-round Eric Morel-Daniel Quevedo bout.
Morel, THE RING’s No. 6-rated bantamweight, is a former flyweight titleholder who is not known for his power. Quevedo, an L.A.-based journeyman, had never been knocked out.
Morel, a 1996 U.S. Olympian from Madison, Wisc., by way of Puerto Rico, dropped Quevedo in the first and second rounds before the rugged Mexican remained on his stool after the fourth.
Morel, who is reportedly in line for a shot at WBA bantamweight beltholder Anselmo Moreno later this year, was expected to win handily but nobody expected the pure boxer to overwhelm Quevedo.
Well, Morel (45-2, 23 knockouts) says he expected it.
“I was not at all surprised by the stoppage,” the 35-year-old veteran told RingTV.com. “I was just taking my time and getting the right distance to land hard punches, but it wasn’t easy. People look at his record and think he’s somebody who a fighter of my experience should knockout right away, but the guy could fight.”
Quevedo (13-12-2, 8 KOs), the 27-year-old holder of Mexico’s national 122-pound title, is indeed capable. However, he could not handle Morel’s excellent footwork, hand speed and ability to deliver shots from angles whenever they were in close.
“I was trying to catch him blind (with punches off angles), but it was kind of difficult to do it with him, so I kept working at him. I thought I would eventually break him down and take him out late in the fight. I didn‘t expect him to stay on his stool after the fourth.”
Morel was asked if he wanted to face the winner of card’s main event between Agbeko and Mares.
“I want Moreno first, I want to beat him and then I want the winner of tonight’s fight to unify the belts. And the winner of that one should take on (Nonito) Donaire.
“But first things first. I gotta beat Moreno. From what I hear, I’m going to get him sometime in November.”
In the main supporting undercard bout, heavyweight hopeful Eric Molina dropped game journeyman Warren Browning three time en route to a sloppy but entertaining third-round stoppage.
Molina (18-1, 14 KOs), of Lyford, Texas, was outworked by the 36-year-old brawler from London, Ky., but once he zeroed in with his right hand in the second round the bout was all but over.
Browning (14-2-1, 9 KOs) was aggressive to a fault, often lunging with lead left hooks, which left him open for Molina’s big right cross. The first that landed clean dropped Browning flat on his face in front of his own corner. He somehow beat referee Robert Byrd’s 10-count but found himself on the canvas 15 seconds later. Browning once again beat the count and was saved by the bell.
The bouncer-looking journeyman nailed Molina with a lead hook at the start of the third round but was once again clocked with a right that put him face down on the canvas. Byrd waved the bout off without a count 25 seconds into the round.
“He came out wild and I stayed calm, got a feel and took him out,” Molina, a college graduate, said. “Now people know there’s a true Mexican-American heavyweight contender out there and his name is Eric Molina.”
Mexican descent? Yes. Heavyweight? Check. Molina is 6-foot-5 and fights at a solid 230 pounds. But contender? No. The 29-year-old fighter still needs a lot of work.
A young prospect who definitely has the look of a future contender is Angelo Santana, who stopped Ramzan Adaev in the second round of a one-sided meeting of hard-punching unbeaten prospects.
Santana (11-0, 8 KOs), a former two-time national amateur champ from Cuba, overwhelmed the naturally bigger L.A.-based Russian puncher with controlled offensive bursts. Whenever the Miami-based southpaw hurt Adaev (8-1-1, 7 KOs) he would drive his foe to the ropes and unload scary combinations.
Santana scored a technical knockdown midway through the second round and then drove Adaev into the canvas with his follow-up attack that was punctuated with a short left cross. Referee Kenny Bayless waved the fight off at 2:02 of the second round.
Santana, a 23-year-old junior welterweight, looked like the goods taking out the last-day substitute who outweighed him by nine rounds. He knows it.
“I was trying to make a statement to my promoter, Don King, to the sport and to boxing fans everywhere,” Santana said. “That statement is that I’m ready to fight the best of the junior welterweight division.”
Santana brought up undefeated fringe contender Vernon Paris and WBA lightweight titleholder Brandon Rios when asked to name fighters he’d like to face in the near future.
In the opening bout of the card, lightweight prospect Carlos Molina was held to an eight-round draw by Juan Manuel Montiel.
Molina, of Norwalk, Calif., won the bout by a 78-74 tally on one scorecard. Montiel, a journeyman from Mexico City, won by 77-75 on another. The third judge scored the bout even, 76-76.
Molina (14-0-1, 7 KOs), who had not fought since last November due to illness and a nagging hand injury, started slow but found his rhythm in the middle rounds. However,2Montiel fought back when pressed by the squat prospect (who looked a little paunchy at 143 pounds).