In a bout always tactical but never dull, tense yet intense, Diego Elizondo defeated Albuquerque’s Aaron Angel Perez by unanimous decision Saturday night in the lightweight main event of a pro boxing card at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
All three judges scored the 10-round bout 96-94 for Elizondo, of Carson City, Nevada.
The loss was the first of Perez’s professional career, dropping him to 10-1-1 with six knockouts. Elizondo is 4-2-3 with no KOs.
Afterward, Perez said he had no quarrel with the decision in a close fight.
“The better man won tonight, in my opinion,” he said. “I’ve got no excuses. … He did what he had to do, and the fight was too close. I left it up to the judges, and that’s what happened. We just take it as a lesson learned.”
There were few if any decisive rounds in a back-and-forth fight that matched two well-schooled boxers. But Elizondo, the taller fighter, did the better body work over the course of the bout.
“I saw that when I hit him with body shots he’d slow down,” Elizondo said. “… They brought me here to lose, and I did not do that. I came here to win.”
Elizondo is a southpaw, but his left-handed stance held no mystery for Perez, who fought a number of left-handers during his amateur career. In his most recent bout, Perez fought to an eight-round draw with a highly touted prospect in Raymond Ford.
Perez, though, was unable to bully Elizondo was he was Ford. It was Elizondo, more often, who was able to put Perez’s back to the ropes.
Even so, Perez did enough good work, landed enough punches, to have earned a draw or even a win by decision. It simply didn’t go his way.
The evening’s semi-main event came to an abrupt end when Mississippi’s Matthew Melton failed to come out for the second round of his scheduled four-round flyweight bout against Albuquerque’s Abraham Perez, Aaron Angel Perez’s brother.
Both boxers were making their pro debuts.
Perez completely controlled the first and only round with the skills he’d developed during a long and decorated amateur career. Melton entered the ring with no confirmed amateur or pro boxing experience and none as an MMA fighter. As observed from ringside, he landed not a single punch.
In other bouts:
• Leonid Grachev (3-0, two KOs, Albuquerque, 233 pounds), defeated Brandon Heredia (pro debut, Bernalillo, 212.4) by four-round unanimous decision.
• Xavier Madrid (2-0, no KOs, Albuquerque, 146.8) defeated Cristian Castillo (3-1, three KOs, Albuquerque, 145.6) by four-round unanimous decision.
• Anthony Bustillos (pro debut, Albuquerque, 108.8) defeated Santiago Giron (1-2, 1 KO, Albuquerque, 108) by fourth-round TKO
• Jordan Gregory (1-3-2, no KOs, 165, Albuquerque), defeated Anthony Hill (1-29, no KOs,161.6, Phoenix).
Were there any phone booths left, the Madrid-Castillo bout could have been fought in one. While neither fighter gave any quarter, Madrid’s punches consistently had more effect on Castillo than vice versa. The scores were 40-36, 40-36 and 39-37.
In an early fight-of-the-night candidate, Bustillos stopped Giron when Aaron Perez, Giron’s cornerman, threw in the towel, seeing his fighter rocked and bleeding from a Bustillos onslaught as the fourth and final round neared an end.
After Bustillos had the better of a fraught first minute of the opening round, Giron appeared to gain control with movement, more jabs and a slower pace. But Bustillos dropped him with a straight right hand in the third, reversing the momentum.
Bustillos was cornered by Steve Garcia, for whose Power & Glory team Giron fought as an amateur and at the outset of his pro career.
Grachev, of Russian heritage, wears the name “Drago” on his trunks. Blond and standing 6-foot-6, he indeed bears a physical resemblance to the Rocky IV character played by Dolph Lundgren.
Heredia, for his part, was willing but unable to play the Rocky role. Dwarfed in size, the Bernalillo fighter won the admiration of the crowd if not the fight. Repeatedly dazed by Grachev’s blows, knocked down in the third round and bleeding profusely from the nose, Heredia made it to the finish line. The scores were 40-36, 40-36 and 40-35.
In scoring his first career victory, Gregory thoroughly outworked Hill, one of boxing’s most prolific losers. Hill has now lost 29 fights in a row after winning his pro debut in 2014.
A crowd estimated at about 1,000 attended the bout at the Convention Center’s Kiva Auditorium. Few of the attendees wore face coverings, as is required by the state of New Mexico for indoor gatherings as a COVID-19 precaution.