Martinez and Santiago Fight Again, Draw Again
By Marc Livitz: For the second time in as many bouts between them, Alex Santiago and Jose Martinez fought to a majority draw. Their Saturday night rematch was for the WBO/NABO super flyweight title at the Complejo Ferial in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
The two men had fought to a draw in late 2016 in the same location.
Aside from the customary jabbing, each fighter’s follow-up punch was sent with the intent to damage from the get-go. Hometown favorite “Chiquiro” Martinez (20-0-2, 13 KO’s) was able to back Santiago (15-2-4, 7 KO’s) up to the ropes with a few consecutive jabs to the head just as the opening round ended. Alex put the pressure on early in the second. “Peque” moved more and more to his right as he established his distance in the hopes of connecting with his left hook.
In the third, he threw combinations to the body and quickly moved the attack up high. Martinez’s jab remained his best answer. The job of referee Jose Rivera remained at bay after Jose landed a left hook in the fourth. A minute into round five, Martinez caught his Mexican opponent with a straight left and followed up with a right hook, which was made easy as Alex wasn’t moving laterally as he once was, though he did catch Jose with a nice uppercut right before the bell.
Santiago had a nice sixth, thanks to his combinations and the ability to avoid the counter left hook of his Puerto Rican adversary. The bout remained close and the last three rounds could easily hold the deciding factors to a win. Martinez was having better success at timing the forward progress of his Tijuana opponent. He had a good eighth round as he kept his guard high and countered with the help of angles, yet a well placed right hand counter from Santiago caught him flush across the face. “Chiquiro” Martinez didn’t hold enough power with his punches to get much more than a smile from Alex, who landed a liver shot late in the ninth. It briefly took the wind from Jose and pushed him to hold for a moment.
As the tenth and final round was underway, there was no customary meeting at the center of the ring. Santiago quickly tagged Martinez with rapid one-two’s which dazed the hometown fighter. Alex continued to land combinations low and high, yet he’d stand in front of Jose long enough to get smacked across the face with a left hook. In any case, if the tenth was meant to be a deciding three minutes, Santiago held the upper hand. As the wood clacked to signal ten seconds to go, they briefly exchanged shots before going into a clinch. The judges would decide this one, just as they did in November of 2016.
Judge Ramon Colon saw it 96-94 for Santiago, while Gerardo Martinez saw it 96-94 for Martinez. Lastly, Samuel Lopez turned in a tally of 95-95 to make it two draws in as many contests.
Co-Main Event Report - Fernandez KO’s Franco in Ninth
In a highly competitive as well as compelling super flyweight contest, Argentina native Lucas Fernandez withstood almost eight full rounds of absorbing punches from previously unbeaten Joshua Franco. He survived an early knockdown in addition to disproportionate levels of shots landed and went on to score a ninth round, come from behind TKO win.
The opening half of round one was somewhat tactical, though equal levels of aggression surfaced between the two shortly thereafter. Fernandez (12-1-1, 8 KO’s) was battling a cut above his left eye and just before the closing bell, a well placed left uppercut from his San Antonio opponent put him on the canvas. He was able to gather himself and return to his corner. “El Profesor” Franco (13-1, 6 KO’s) tagged him with another short left uppercut just as the second commenced. Pleasantries were tossed to the wind as the two men fought almost toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring. They exchanged various head shots, though Fernandez preferred to dig more to the ribcage, yet he made his way back to his team with a new cut, this one over his right eye. However, the Argentine fighter emerged for the third a new man. He looked to keep his right glove higher up in an effort to combat Joshua’s left hook. Counter shots connected just as the bell sounded. This one was becoming quite entertaining.
Franco established his jab in the fourth and found a bit of success with his straight right as well. The next round was much the same, as Joshua jabbed while Lucas countered as his face was beginning to show clear signs of battery. Franco continued to widen the gap during the next three minute period, though Fernandez was no slouch. He remained focused on landing counter shots and found just traces of success.
Most of the seventh was combat in close quarters. The exchanges usually meant two to three successive punches in Joshua’s favor and one single shot returned by the fighter from Rosario. Franco held on for a brief moment after Fernandez tagged him with a solid right to begin round eight. He was consistently able to keep his hands flying just enough to avoid the potentially dangerous punches from Lucas.
The tide turned to the greatest degree in the opening minute of what would prove to be the last round of the evening. In a highly notable comeback, Lucas Fernandez found his steam, first with a hard right uppercut followed by two unanswered, over the top right hands. Franco slumped forward and showed no signs of defense, which prompted referee Jose Rivera to stop the contest at the :46 mark of round nine. Fernandez fell to the mat exhausted, yet overjoyed with the TKO stoppage win.
Additional Results from Ponce, P.R.
Welterweight Danielito Zorrilla w pts 6 Clifford Gray
Super Flyweight: Josean Serra w tko 3 Marco Antonio Sanchez
Welterweight: Rashidi Ellis w tko 4 Fidel Munoz -