Delivery alert

There may be an issue with the delivery of your newspaper. This alert will expire at NaN. Click here for more info.

Recover password

Combat sports: ABQ native Leo wins WBO crown; Vannata loses MMA bout

Angelo Leo made it ugly, and it was beautiful.

As a result, the Albuquerque native is the new World Boxing Organization super bantamweight champion.

In Uncasville, Connecticut, Leo, employing a relentless body attack coupled with flashing hand speed and impeccable conditioning, defeated Tramaine Williams Saturday night by lopsided, unanimous decision.

Leo (20-0, nine knockouts) exited the ring at Mohegan Sun Casino with the WBO title belt, left vacant after former champion Emmanuel Navarette decided to move up in weight, draped over his shoulder. He becomes the fifth Albuquerquean and sixth New Mexican to hold a world boxing title.

He’s the first Albuquerque male boxer to win a world title since Johnny Tapia vacated the IBF featherweight title he won in April 2002.

“It feels good. It still hasn’t sunk it yet,” Leo said after the Showtime telecast of the bout. “It feels surreal.”

After the first two rounds, a Leo victory seemed anything but certain. Williams, a southpaw, consistently found Leo’s head with sharp, right-hand counters.

In the third, however, Leo abandoned any thoughts of finesse and began boring in on Williams with almost manic intensity.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was devastatingly effective.

“The first few rounds I was just feeling him out, getting his timing, getting the feel of him,” Leo said. “I felt him kind of loosening up, kind of breaking down. That’s when I started putting the pressure on him a little more.”

Williams (19-1, six KOs) never found the escape hatch. The judges’ scores were 118-110, 118-110 and 117-111.

MMA: In Las Vegas, Nevada, Albuquerque MMA lightweight Lando Vannata, out-punched in standup and out-wrestled on the ground, lost by unanimous decision to Bobby Green Saturday night on a UFC Fight Night card.

Round by round, the entertaining fight was more competitive than than the scorecards — 30-27, 30-27, 30-26 — suggested. But there was no suspense before the decision was announced.

Progressively, Green (26-10-1) took ownership.

Vannata (11-5-1) fared well through the first three minutes of the first round, but Green then dropped him with a right hand and turned the round in his favor.

Rounds two and three were clear-cut, although one judge’s score of a two-point round for Green in the third seemed fanciful.

Vannata scored his only takedown in the second, and twice came close to securing a guillotine choke from the bottom. But Green stayed in control, dropping Vannata with an elbow in the third.

The fight was a rematch of an October 2017 meeting, deemed the fight of the night, that ended in a draw.

The rematch, though one-sided on the scorecards, was nearly as action-fraught. Vannata, always a crowd-pleaser, did not fail in that regard. Once again, Green-Vannata was deemed the fight of the night — meaning a $50,000 bonus for each fighter.

“Lando’s a great dance partner and a great guy,” Green said afterward. “I love the kid.”

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a story about how coronavirus has affected you, your family or your business? Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? What issues related to the topic would you like to see covered? Or do you have a bright spot you want to share in these troubling times?
   We want to hear from you. Please email or Contact the writer.