Southpaw junior middleweight Deandre Latimore rose from knockdowns in the ninth and 10th rounds to score a majority decision over late replacement Milton Nunez, of Colombia, for his third straight victory on Friday night’s ShoBox: The New Generation from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Although he was floored with 26 seconds left in each of the last two rounds, Latimore (23-3, 17 knockouts) escaped with the triumph over Nunez (23-4-1, 21 KOs), whose previous three losses had all been by first-round stoppage.
Discovered to be “31 or 32″ years of age rather than his listed 24, according to Showtime commentator Steve Farhood, Nunez took the bout on three days notice after Ryan Davis failed the pre-fight eye examination.
After his first-round jab drew blood from the nose of Nunez, Latimore began stepping forward and trading more in the second with the taller Nunez, whose winging blows to the head and body landed more often near the end of the session.
In the third, Latimore hammered away at Nunez’s body early, and later shook Nunez and drove him backward with a right hook to the head, followed by a double-right hook to the body and a fourth to the head.
A stretch of boxing by Latimore early in the fourth was followed by a lead left that drove Nunez to the ropes. Later, two more lead lefts cornered Nunez, who uncorked a left hook that briefly stunned Latimore over the round’s final seconds.
The fading Nunez landed sparingly in the fifth, where Latimore patiently boxed from a distance before landing a hard straight left, followed by a right hook just before the bell.
It was more of the same through much of the sixth until Latimore fired six consecutive straight left hands, followed by a right hook that rocked Nunez with just under a minute left. Latimore fired and landed three left uppercuts just before the bell.
Latimore blasted away at Nunez’s body midway through the seventh before staggering him with two, well-placed left uppercuts. Latimore battered Nunez and appeared close to getting him out of there late in the round, but the rangy fighter sucked it up and lasted the round.
Referee Joe Cortez warned Nunez to fight back while he sat on his stool before the eighth, or risk the fight being stopped.
But Latimore appeared to take the heat off, boxing from a distance and on his toes over the next rounds, more or less appearing to lett Nunez off the hook.
For with 26 seconds left in the ninth, Nunez landed a big right hand that staggered Latimore, who then fell to the canvas under a series of blows, and then barely beat the 10-count to make it out of the round.
Latimore went down more from a head butt than a punch in the 10th, and mainly spent the round maintaining his distance.
Promoted by WBC welterweight beltholder Floyd Mayweather Jr., and trained by his uncle, Jeff Mayweather, Latimore had the edge, 95-94 and 96-92 on the cards of C.J. Ross and Ricardo Ocasio, respectively, with Al Lefkowitz calling it a draw.
Latimore’s previous two wins were by third-round knockout over Darien Ford in July of 2010 and eight-round unanimous decision over Dennis Sharpe last April.
Before that, he had sandwiched an unimpressive decision over Sammy Sparkman in August of 2009 between a split-decision loss to Cory Spinks in 2009 (in a 12-round bout for the vacant IBF title), and a loss to Sechew Powell in the rematch of a seventh-round TKO victory for Latimore in June of 2008.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com