The fans in Cicero, Illinois, and those watching on Telefutura, were treated to a good old fashioned Mexican slugfest between welterweights Jesus Soto-Karass and Michel Rosales. The bout concluded at 2:21 of the 11th round when referee Gerald Scott determined the previously undefeated Rosales—now 11-1 (10)—had taken enough punishment for one night.
Don’t be fooled by Soto-Karass’ 15-3-2 (12) record. The 24-year-old from Los Mochis, Mexico has been matched extremely tough for his last eight bouts. Maybe his management envisioned him as a stepping stone, but this skinny, relentless mauler has got other ideas.
His losses all came in 2004 to much more seasoned, undefeated prospects Nurhan Suleymanoglu, Freddy Harnandez and (jnr. middleweight) Yuri Foreman. A draw came in 2005 to the monster veteran puncher Manuel “Shotgun” Gomez—no shame there. Since then, he’s been a three-fight win-streak against guys like the still-dangerous “Cool” Vince Philips.
Michel Rosales fought his guts out, and indeed had his moments, but one wonders if his handlers (he’s managed by Cameron Dunkin, who could field two football teams with all the clients he’s got) knew the lion’s den their kid entered when he climbed through those ropes. Soto-Karass reminds me of one of my favorite spoilers, who has sadly been MIA since suffering a detached retina in 2004, the wild-swinging, never-say-die Juan “Pollo” Valenzuela. Perhaps “Pollo” caught this fight somewhere and, if so, surely enjoyed Soto-Karass, seeing himself in this kid who’s nobody’s journeyman—at least not yet.
The boxers traded shots continuously throughout the first. By the second, it was readily apparent that neither will be mistaken for Willie Pep. But their respective styles work for them. Soto-Karass pressed the action, and hurled nonstop to the body and head. The greener Rosales countered, but left himself open because of his numerous technical flaws—his hands are low and he leans back from punches. He’s also an arm-puncher who needs to apply some WD-40 to his knees. Yet he’s been blessed with heavy hands, which make a loud thwack when they connect. He’s also awkward. He looks amateurish, but his busy hands work in combination and know how to find the liver and lower ribs.
The tables turned in the fourth, as Rosales walked Soto-Karass down, and the latter was forced to counter. But Soto-Karass finished the round impressively, going back on the offensive, and landing numerous windmill hooks to the body.
The next round Soto-Karass was deducted a point for a low blow—he’d already been warned. But when the action resumed, it wasn’t Rosales who behaved like the wronged party. He got blitzed for a minute straight. Eventually, Soto-Karass’ energy flagged, and Rosales got some payback. This was a terrific round, which I scored 9-9.
Rosales had a strong sixth, as his opponent took a breather. The succeeding frame was absolutely brutal, just a couple degrees shy of Gatti-Ward stuff. As the round drew to a close, it looked to be anyone’s fight, both in terms of scoring and each fighter’s respective will and stamina.
The eighth was just as good. Too good, if you’re concerned about the fighters’ long-term plans. My notes say that each fighter will need a good, long rest after this savage affair. In a round where I had Rosales controlling the action, Soto-Karass threw another low blow, for which he received a warning. I don’t know if this is dirty fighting or smart fighting (it certainly helped Trinidad get over on Vargas—and all the history books remember is who won). In this instance, it stopped Rosales’ momentum. He endured a vicious, interminable attack that had him hanging on by a slender thread. The Illinois commission should check to see if Soto-Karass has Red Bull flowing through his veins.
My notes on the next frame say “surreal” and “don’t put a fork in Rosales.” It was more back and forth and the undefeated kid wasn’t willing to kiss that “0” goodbye.
Some clichés are so good, you just can’t help using them, because you wish you had come up with them yourself. Here’s one of my favorites: “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Brave as Rosales is, he was done by the 11th. Soto-Karass was stalking, Rosales merely surviving. After absorbing a flush left hook to the chops, Rosales held onto his man as if he were a buoy in a dark, freezing, bottomless ocean. No life-saver, Soto-Karass was a bastard shark late for dinner. He swiveled his shoulders, tossing the kid off him. A chopping right hand came a few seconds later, forcing a depleted Rosales to take a knee. He got up with plenty of time to spare, but the ref held the fighter’s beaten, red face in his hands, took a good look in his eyes, and did the only sensible thing.
In the televised warm-up bout, middleweight Michael Walker scored an eight-round UD over Alberto Mercedes.
Off-TV, featherweight hotshot Jason Litzau scored what has been said to be a sensational second-round KO against Sammy Ventura.
Super Bantam Omar Reyes won PTS in six over journeyman Yamin Mohammad.
Jr. welter Jose Manuel Ortega scored a TKO 5 over Ramon Guevara.
Light heavy Mateusz Masternak scored a TKO4 over William Chouloute.
In a four-rounder, welter Andrzej Fonfara won a UD over Johnny Higgins.