It appeared Antonio “Tone” Martinez was going to send home his Northern New Mexico fans early.
He didn’t, but at least he sent them home happy.
Martinez, a junior welterweight boxer from Española, defeated Miguel Gallegos by six-round unanimous decision Friday night in the main event of a pro boxing card at the Marriott Pyramid North.
Martinez improved his record to 11-5-4 with six knockouts. Gallegos, of Durango, Colorado, is 5-2-1 with one KO.
The judges’ scores were 60-53, 58-55 and 60-53.
“Tone” excited those who’d driven down from Española by dropping Gallegos with a perfect right hand in the first. But Gallegos beat referee Rocky Burke’s count and made it to the end of the round.
Martinez was dominant early, stunning Gallegos with another right in the third. But the pace slowed thereafter, and the Colorado fighter made a competitive fight of it in the final three rounds.
Afterward, Martinez said he was neither surprised nor terribly disappointed that Gallegos survived the first round.
“I was able to show my skills and box a little more,” he said. “And he’s a tough guy. I knew I hit him hard, but I knew there was a good chance he’d get up. I saw (Thursday at the weigh-in) he was in tremendous shape.
“I’m glad (he got up), because I got to put on a show for the fans.”
Despite his muscular build, Gallegos didn’t appear to have much snap to the relatively few punches he landed.
“I didn’t really feel his power too much,” Martinez said. “Then again, anyone can hurt you with the right shot. So I was still careful and tried to move my head and use my defense.”
In prelim bouts:
Bryant McClain (5-1-2, one KO), Rio Rancho, 166 pounds, and Lorenzo Benavidez (3-1-1, one KO), Albuquerque, 165.4 pounds, fought to a four-round split draw. The judges’ scores were 38-38, 39-37 for McClain and 39-37 for Benavidez.
Santiago Amaro (pro debut), Albuquerque, 118 pounds, defeated Santiago Giron, (1-1, one KO) Albuquerque, 115 1/2, by second-round TKO.
Sidiah Parker (pro debut), Albuquerque by way of Blanding, Utah, 176.2 pounds, defeated Maurice Jackson (2-1, two KOs), Albuquerque by way of Chicago, 177.2, by four-round majority decision. The judges’ scores were 38-38 and 39-37 twice for Parker.
Sonya Dreiling (2-0, one KO), Greeley, Colorado, 160.6, defeated Jordanne Garcia (4-1-1, no KOs), Albuquerque, 165.2, by majority decision. The judges scores were 38-38 and 39-37 and 40-36 for Dreiling.
Donald Sanchez (5-2, three KOs), Albuquerque, defeated Derek Perez (2-13-1, one KO), Belen, by unanimous, four-round decision. All three judges scored the bout 40-36.
After an action-fraught four rounds between McClain and Benavidez, fights broke out in the crowd, apparently between their supporters.
The fighters, longtime New Mexico amateur contemporaries, did their best to defuse the situation, exchanging hugs.
“Outside the ring, we’re very good friends,” Benavidez said.
Benavidez, who stands 5-foot-3, defeated his previous three opponents by boring in on taller fighters, tattooing the body and landing uppercuts. He followed the same blueprint on Friday.
But McClain found at least a partial antidote, slowing that advance by blasting away at Benavidez’s ample, if low-slung, midsection.
Amaro staged a stunning upset against Giron, who was among the state’s better amateurs of recent years.
Giron appeared to have the better of the first round, but the unheralded Amaro made it clear this would be a fight, landing several hard shots.
Early in the second, Giron went to one knee at the end of an Amaro flurry. Giron got to his feet and fought back gamely, but then sank back to the canvas under continued pressure from Amaro.
Referee Steve Chavez waved off the fight at 1:55 of the second.
Amaro, a former teammate of Giron’s at Steve Garcia’s Power & Glory Boxing, now trains with Fidel Maldonado Sr. and Manuel Anaya at Atrisco Boxing.
The outcome, Maldonado said, came as no surprise to him.
“I know what (Amaro) can do,” Maldonado said. “He’s a tough kid. He’s got power, he’s got a heart. … We’ve got something good.”
In a battle of MMA fighters from rival gyms — Parker trains at FIT-NHB, Jackson at Jackson-Wink — Parker appeared to control the first three rounds with superior movement and a sharp left jab.
Jackson, a muscular southpaw, succeeded in closing the distance in the fourth, landing some clean shots as Parker appeared to tire.
Garcia was the heavier fighter on the scales at Thursday’s weigh-in, but Dreiling was the bigger, stronger fighter in the ring. The Colorado boxer’s all-out aggressiveness kept Garcia on the defensive for most of the four rounds, blunting the Albuquerquean’s better technique and straighter punches.
Sanchez had few problems with Perez, always game but almost always overmatched.
A veteran of 50 MMA fights, Sanchez was asked if he planned a return to the cage at some point.
“Never. Boxing only,” he said.