NEW YORK – The change wasn’t dramatic, but it was noticeable.
After three months of working with Nacho Beristain at the legendary boxing trainer’s Mexico City-based gym, featherweight prospect Luis Orlando Del Valle was already exhibiting subtle adjustments to his craft. Del Valle, 26, of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, came out for the first round of his scheduled eight-round bout against Andre Wilson St. Joseph, Mo. with his hands high in the style of Ricardo Lopez and Juan Manuel Marquez, Beristain’s most celebrated proteges.
Del Valle’s improved upper body movement set Wilson up for a left counter that wobbled his legs. Yet by the end of the first round, Del Valle was sporting blood over his right eye. The sight of his own blood seemed to drain his discipline however, and by the third round Del Valle was using his jab less and fighting off the front foot more frequently.
Del Valle, who was fighting for the first time since his first career defeat last September against former flyweight and junior bantamweight titleholder Vic Darchinyan, could afford a lapse here and there against Wilson as he continued to adjust to the training tactics of his new mentor.
Del Valle’s superior class ultimately carried him to victory, as a right uppercut to the body dropped Wilson in the third round; then two more knockdowns in the fourth and fifth rounds before the referee stopped the bout at 1:32 of round five.
Del Valle raised his record to 17-1 (11 knockouts) with the win while Wilson (13-6-1, 11 KOs) loses by stoppage for the fourth time as a professional.
Former WBA junior middleweight titleholder Yuri Foreman (29-2, 8 KOs) is on a comeback of his own, following a nearly two-year absence from the ring that ended with a six-round decision win in January. The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Foreman stretched his win streak to two with a six-round unanimous decision win over Gundrick King (18-10, 11 KOs) by the scores of 60-54 on all three cards.
In welterweight action, Ionut “Jo Jo” Dan (31-2, 17 KOs), of Montreal, defeated Damian Frias (19-7-1, 10 KOs), of Miami, Fla., by the scores of 76-75 on one card, and more accurate 78-73 on the remaining two. Dan, 31, looked more impressive in this outing than his last bout in December, backing Frias up with southpaw right hooks in rounds five and six before settling for a decision.
Dan’s only two defeats came on close decisions to eventual title challenger Selcuk Aydin.
Meanwhile, in a six-round female featherweight bout, Brooklyn-based prospect Heather Hardy (5-0, 0 KOs) closed the door on unfinished business by defeating Mikayla Nebel (0-5) in a rematch of her pro debut. In their first fight, Hardy was dropped by Nebel in the first round of their bout last August before winning a unanimous decision by one point on each card. This time, Hardy, a former 2011 National Golden Gloves champion, showed off her improved boxing skills, using head movement to keep Nebel guessing while landing combinations of her own to win a unanimous decision by the scores of 60-54 on two cards and 60-53 on the third.