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Boxing: No victory, but respect for Sanchez

Albuquerque welterweight boxer Jose Luis Sanchez on Saturday didn’t quite get the big-stage, career-changing victory that his brother achieved in 2018.

Even so, Sanchez’s gritty, eye-opening performance in fighting to a majority draw against respected veteran Adrian Granados raises questions.

Should not an exceptional performance be rewarded, even if not resulting in victory? Should Sanchez not join his younger brother, Jason, as a contract fighter for a major promoter? If not, shouldn’t he at least get another opportunity on the big stage?

The answer, of course, is we shall see.

Sanchez (11-1-1, four KOs), a decided underdog, hung with Granados for eight frenetic rounds before both fighters’ hands were raised at fight’s end. The bout was the main event of Premier Boxing Champions’ early Saturday card in advance of that night’s pay-per-view card headlined by heavyweights Andy Ruiz and Chris Arreola.

The Sanchez-Granados fight, while earning praise for its non-stop action, didn’t get a lot of attention on what was perhaps the busiest pro boxing weekend since the coronavirus pandemic brought a halt to the sport more than a year ago.

But did anyone notice — anyone, meaning PBC boss Al Haymon or someone close to him — how well and how courageously Sanchez fought against a far more experienced and better-known opponent?

In October 2018, Jason Sanchez defeated previously unbeaten Jean Carlos Rivera, a Top Rank, Inc., contract fighter and then a prized prospect, by unanimous decision. That victory led to a Top Rank contract for the younger Sanchez brother, and the following year to a world title shot.

Granados (21-8-3, 15 KOs) is no longer a hot prospect at age 31. But he’s a skilled, rugged, hard-punching fighter who has gone the distance with some of the world’s best in the middle weight classes and acquitted himself well.

Now, perhaps Sanchez, though not getting a victory on Saturday, nonetheless will get more and better opportunities as a result of his performance. Perhaps that might even start with a better-paying — Sanchez’s pay on Saturday was $15,000, according to the California Athletic Commission — higher-profile rematch against Granados, who was furious with the decision.

Granados’ opinion aside, neither fighter was able to establish dominance though the bout’s eight furious rounds.

Whenever Granados appeared close to assuming control, Sanchez would battle back. The result was a barn-burner of a fight and an outcome that, despite Granados’ protests, has not risen to the level of controversy.

One judge scored the bout for Granados, 77-75. The other two cards read 76-76.

Sanchez’s only previous loss came some eight years ago in his third professional fight, when he lost by seventh-round TKO to his far more experienced fellow Albuquerquean Josh Torres.

Saturday’s bout in Carson, California was Sanchez’s second outside of New Mexico and his first — streamed by Fox — in front of a national audience.

If justice prevails, it will not be his last.

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