I’d been looking forward to seeing welter Jesus Soto Karass fight again. He brings a TV-friendly, aggressive style—one boxing writer dubbed him “Margarito Lite”; indeed, Jesus and Antonio are sparring partners. And he’s put on some impressive performances the last couple of years, having apparently rebounded from a three-fight losing streak against Nurhan Suleyman, Freddy Hernandez and Yuri Foreman—all undefeated at the time. Now 16-3-3 (13), this 24-year-old was thrown into the deep water at a certain point in his career and was forced to either sink or swim.
On this installment of Telefutura from Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Isleta Casino Resort, Jesus neither swam nor sank. He doggy-paddled his way to a draw against Gilbert Venegas, who now goes 10-4-3 (7). Scores of the 12-rounder were 112-115, 114-113 and 114-114.
Jesus fought as if he had gone on a three-day Tequilla binge. He was lethargic, sloppy and uninspired. This is not a fighter that can afford to be anything less than thrilling when given prime TV time. Of course, Venegas had something to do with Karass’ unmemorable showing.
The first round was fought at a slow pace with little exchanged, as the two felt each other out. Whenever Venegas threw something he’d take a half step backward, taking himself out of harm’s way but eliminating the possibility of punching with conviction. Karass, who likes to be engaged, did not appear to have the foot speed to make up the ground.
In the next round, Venegas countered well. Karass helped him by craning his neck forward, inviting punches. The pace was still that of a slow waltz until the last ten seconds. I had expected Venegas to be altogether different. Thick and short-limbed, he’s generously listed at 5’7’’ and has a tattoo of barbed wire around his neck. But he’s actually a cautious, intelligent boxer who picks his spots.
The two styles continued to neutralize each other in the third, as Venegas took his half-steps backward and Karass ineffectively plodded forward. For the next six rounds they traded rounds and a few punches, with nothing significant landing. When Karass put his punches together to the body and head, they looped and arced just like Margarito’s. But no one’s ever excused the WBO welter beltholder of being a technical maestro. And Jesus’ hands looked as slow and they were sloppy, like they were moving under water. Venegas had no trouble getting his in between them.
The heat turned up a bit in the 10th. Venegas sat in the pocket or fought in close with aplomb. He ducked under Jesus’ lazy hooks and caught most of his uppercuts on his gloves. Just before the bell, he landed several unanswered punches.
Not accomplishing a great deal in the 11th, Jesus bought himself some time when he complained about a shot that skimmed the back of his head. He feigned pain and the ref gave him a few seconds to collect himself. Rejuvenated, he punched continuously till the bell sounded. Nothing big landed. The final round had some good, the two fighting on equal terms.
Their must’ve been something foul in the air, or the water, or the tequila, because even touted lightweight Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios didn’t perform that well. He eked out an six-round SD over Carlos Madrid, moving his record to 15-0 (10). Scores were 59-54, 57-56, 55-57.
Rios of Oxnard, CA is only 20 and still physically maturing, and the 8-3-2 (2) Madrid is nine years his senior. The older man was more aggressive but paid for his valor, getting cut over his right eye in the second, and a bad bruise under his left eye in the fourth. But he ladned plenty of right hands and gave the prospect a fight to remember.
Rios, more gifted and better schooled, worked the angles. He turned Madrid and slipped in good uppercuts and stayed on the damaged eyes.
Bam Bam was very tired going into the last round and was instructed to work his jab. Madrid wanted to keep him close, punch and clinch, and pray for honest scorecards. With no prior warning, ref Tony Zaino took a point from Madrid for holding, effectively destroying all his efforts over the previous five frames. Would the ref have so cavalierly done the same to Rios? Regardless, both wrestled and punched their way till the final bell.
Welter Ray Sanchez UD 8 over Chris Overbey.
Jnr. middle Austin Trout UD 6 over Abdias Castillo.
Feather Miguel Angel Garcia- TKO 2 over Carlos Zambrano.
Jnr. feather Marcos Acosta UD 4 over Anthony McGee.
Super fly Anthony Vialpondo UD 4 over Richard Flores.