BY: Lydia Smith
Punchline.live was on hand Saturday night in San Antonio, TX for what was supposed to be a great Welterweight showdown between Vergil Ortiz Jr and Eimantas Stanionis at Golden Boy Promotion’s Main Event from the AT&T Center. Unfortunately, Ortiz Jr was forced to pull out of the fight. Oscar De La Hoya said, “Vergil Ortiz was training really, really hard for the fight of his career when he passed out, requiring immediate hospitalization,” as he announced the fight night would continue. Punchline.live wishes Ortiz Jr a full recovery.
The fight cancellation catapulted Floyd Schofield, a young WBA Lightweight champion from Austin, TX, into the spotlight. And Schofield did not disappoint.
Floyd retained his WBA lightweight title against Haskell Rhodes, from Las Vegas, NV, and proved he could handle the spotlight and withstand an injury. The fight may not have been evenly matched enough to fully display Schofield’s boxing skills, yet Schofield was still impressive. Schofield is 20 years old and came into the fight with a flawless record and ramping career. Rhodes is 35 years old, has been fighting for 12 years and came into the fight having split his last four fights.
In the first three rounds, Rhodes kept up with Schofield’s fast pace but could not match Schofield’s power and movement. Schofield threw incredible, moving combos: forward springs of double jabs and crosses, power hooks while moving to the side, all landed with incredible accuracy and power.
Beginning in round four, Rhodes seemed to tire out and his movements began to get careless. This loosened Schofield up who accelerated his footwork, punches and even began baiting Rhodes in the seventh round. Perhaps out of frustration or exhaustion Rhodes pushed Schofield down to the canvas. Schofield promptly responded by knocking Rhodes down twice then once more in round eight.
With less than 20 seconds to go in the ninth round, Rhodes’ flailing head clashed against Schofield’s face, slicing Schofield’s left cheek open wide. Schofield’s pre-bleeding flesh was shown close-up on the jumbotron making the crowd groan. With seconds to go in round nine, Schofield’s cheek began to pour blood. During the break, Schofield’s cut man did a great job staunching the blood. Even though the bleeding had mostly stopped, Referee James Green, stopped the fight at the beginning of round 10 to have the ringside doctor check Schofield’s cut.
With the ringside doctor clearing Schofield to continue, the tenth and final round restarted. An invigorated Rhodes seemed focused on reopening Schofield’s cut. Schofield responded by switching to a southpaw stance making the cut harder for Rhodes to reach. Schofield’s pace was slower but still won the final round. The judges awarded Schofield with a shutout unanimous decision (100-87 3X’s). The rising star Schofield is now 15-0 (11 KOs) while Rhodes went home with 28-5-1 (13 KOs).
During the post-fight press conference, Schofield called out Keyshawn Davis as the next fight he wanted. Bernard Hopkins, a Golden Boy Promotions Partner, strongly advocated for Schofield to fight Joseph Diaz next. An in-house Golden Boy Promotions fight would be easier to make happen for this year. Whatever comes next for Schofield will be exciting to watch, stay tuned!
Joseh Diaz Jr. (South El Monte, CA) vs. Jerry Perez (Harbor City, CA)
Diaz and Perez took their California turf-war to San Antonio in what was originally a scheduled Lightweight contest that turned into a Welterweight bout after Diaz came in 6 pounds over the Lightweight limit. After losing his last three fights, Diaz was in a must-win situation vs. Perez.
And Joseph Diaz Jr is back! Not only did he secure this much needed win, his performance also showed he is focused and better than ever.
The fight began with Perez making the most of his five-inch reach advantage, landing combos from a distance. Diaz quickly turned it into an inside fight, landing tight power hooks and body shots that had Perez shook by the second round and sitting on the ropes in the third round.
Perez loosened up in round four and made the most of Diaz’s brief slowing of pace, creating distance though not landing much on Diaz. In round five, Perez landed low blows which Diaz responded with a power left hook that almost knocked Perez down. In round six, Perez was saved by the bell from Diaz’s late round flurry of power jabs and body hooks.
In the last three rounds, Perez was at his best when moving around the ring creating distance from the inside fights. Diaz slowed down a bit and often stood in front of Perez’s punches before barraging Perez with power punches.
Diaz handily won a unanimous decision over Perez but best of all, Diaz showed he’s back and once again focused. During the post-fight press conference for Schofield, Bernard Hopkins said he wants to see Schofield fight Diaz next.
Diaz improves to 33-4-1 (15) while Perez falls to 14-3-1 (11). Official Judges scored 97-93 (twice) while a third judged agreed with Punchline’s score of 98-92.
Marlen Esparza (Houston, TX) vs. Gabriela Alaniz (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
In a 10-round, female Flyweight unification bout, Houston’s Marlen Esparza took advantage of every second versus Argentina’s Gabriela Alaniz. Esparza came out swinging from the opening bell and was ready to go before the referee would be ready to restart the fight after breaking a clinch. During the first four rounds, Esparza danced around Alaniz’s low-seated, linear movements with Championship footwork, defense and combos. Gabriela had a hard time landing her renowned power punches on Esparza.
Alaniz’s superior conditioning began to reward the fighter in round 5. Taking a page out of Marlen’s playbook, she came out swinging and continued to be the aggressor. Alaniz was steadily fighting at her relentless pace while Esparza’s pace had slowed. Alaniz began to find openings Esparza didn’t make available in the earlier rounds. Marlen began to use more of her body to defend than her feet, using her shoulders and elbows to push Alaniz back to a safe distance.
In the final three rounds some of the fire Esparza had in earlier rounds returned to help her win a majority decision. Official scorecards read, 95-95, 97-93 and a bizarre 99-91 scorecard. Punchline scored the fight 96-94 for the now WBC, WBA and WBO Champion Esparza who is now 14-1 (1) and afterwards made no secret that she wants an opportunity to avenge her lone career defeat versus Los Angeles’s Seniesa Estrada. “I want you to put out this statement and put it out there as many times as you need to…I want her scrawny ass now.” said Marlen in her post-fight statements. The now former Champion Alaniz tastes defeat for the first time in her career and is now 14-1 (6).
Eric Tudor (Fort Lauderdale, FL) vs. Reggie Harris Jr (Ann Arbor, MI)
Super Middleweights Eric Tudor and Reggie Harris, Jr. kicked off the DAZN televised action with what turned out to be an exciting 8 round contest. Tudor landed a hard right that knocked Harris, Jr. down in the first round. Referee James Green gave Tudor his first, of what would be many, low-blow warnings. Midway through round 2, Tudor landed hard combos that had Harris, Jr.’s legs wobbling.
The tables began to turn in round 3, as Harris, Jr. used his incredible speed and focused on low but wide combos to the body, a bit too low at times, though Green continued to warn Tudor for low blows. Tudor couldn’t seem to adjust to Harris Jr’s speed and the ref’s warnings. “I know there’s definitely some things I could have adjusted better and done better.” Tudor would later say in post fight comments.
Tudor rebounded in the last two rounds adapting to Harris, Jr.’s speed and body shots with power counterpunch combos that almost dropped him in the 7th round. Reggie’s incredibly tough chin never quit and his punches ramped up in the final round.
Harris, Jr. won the crowd. He should have been knocked down, never stopped going for it, didn’t leave anything on the table. The crowd expressed their displeasure with the judges scores for Tudor, 77-74 and 78-73 (twice), Punchline scored the bout 76-75 for Tudor. Despite the game effort of the Michigan based Harris, Jr. he now drops to 7-4 (3) while Florida’s 21 year old prospect Tudor passes a tough test and is now 9-0 (6).
Tristan Kalkreuth (Duncanville, TX) vs. Joe Jones (Jersey City, NJ)
Heavyweight Tristan Kalkreuth improved to 11-1 (8) with a second round TKO over Joe Jones. After an active first round, Kalkreuth broke open the fight scoring two knockdowns in round 2 and it appeared the ringside Doctor stopped the fight at the 2:12 mark? Jones falls to 13-9 (10).
Darius Fulghum (Houston, TX) vs. Jeremiah Curtright (Saint Charles, MO)
Kicking off the preliminary, non-televised action Houston Cruiserweight prospect Darius Fulgham improved to 6-0 (6) with a third round demolition over St. Charles, MO’s Jeremiah Curtright who falls to 2-2 (1). Fulgham scored two knockdowns in round 3 and the bout was waived off at 2:17.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Lydia Smith is a Punchline.live correspondent based in Austin, TX. Lydia will be covering the growing Texas boxing scene along with her perspective writings. She has loved boxing ever since the late 90s when she began training at King’s Boxing Gym in Oakland, CA.
About the Editor
Army Veteran and former Professional Boxer Simon Ruvalcaba started boxing at the age of ten and Had a 71 fight amateur career which featured a 139 lbs. 1998 8th U.S. Army Boxing Championship out of Camp Casey, Korea and a spot on the prestigious Army Boxing Team at Fort Hood, TX. After a journeyman pro career of 18 fights, which included sparring sessions with many champions and contenders including Julio Cesar Chavez and Pernell “Sweat Pea” Whitaker, Simon started writing and has contributed to many publications and websites including fighthype.com, pound4pound.com, Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA), Nevada Appeal (Carson City, NV). He has also been the Boxing Instructor for Ken Shamrock and The Lions Den and was MMA and Bareknuckle star Paige VanZant’s first boxing coach!
Born and Raised in South Lake Tahoe, California he now resides in Sun Valley, Nevada and spends as much time as possible with his Sons Gabriel and Oscar! Beyond boxing, Simon is an all around sports fanatic and is passionate about the teams that he roots for. Simon also works as a Sportsbook Supervisor for Caesars Sportsbook in Lake Tahoe.