Undefeated junior bantamweight prospect Ivan Morales, the younger brother of Erik Morales, won his U.S. debut with a hard-fought technical decision over former title challenger Luis Maldonado in Temecula, Calif., on Saturday.
Morales (18-0, 12 knockouts), who won the Telefutura-televised bout by scores of 98-92 and 97-93 (twice), boxed, moved and fought like a 115-pound southpaw version of his legendary older brother, and much like the four-division titleholder, he had to dig deep to earn his victory.
Maldonado, a 34-year-old veteran who lost flyweight title challenges to Vic Darchinyan and Nonito Donaire, took the fight to the 20-year-old Tijuana native from the opening bell, charging forward and relentlessly attacking the body. Morales worked his jab from a distance and when moving and fired hard uppercuts whenever the Mexicali native got inside.
Maldonado (38-9-1, 29 KOs) fought with a bad cut over his left eye but it wasn’t half as bad as the nasty gash over Morales’ right eyelid that was produced by an accidental head clash midway through the 10th and final round of the bout.
The cut forced the fight to go to the scorecards, which had Morales comfortably ahead (although more than a few fans ringside saw a much closer bout).
In the co-featured bout of the Solo Boxeo broadcast, featherweight prospect Julian Ramirez dropped and stopped Noel Mendoza in the opening round of thier scheduled six rounder.
Ramirez (4-0, 3 KOs), the nephew of late former 130-pound champ Genaro Hernandez, floored Mendoza (6-2-1, 1 KO) with first flush left he landed from his southpaw stance. Mendoza beat the count but got up on wobbly legs and was forced to the ropes by more accurate power shots that prompted the referee to wave the bout off 42 seconds into the round.