By Marc Livitz, SecondsOut.com. Roberto Garcia scored a close and competitive split decision win over Norberto Gonzalez this evening as ESPN’s Friday Nights rolled into the Windy City of Chicago for a night of bouts at the UIC Pavilion. Gonzalez made his third ring appearance in just under year since returning from a three year hiatus. The native of Monterrey, N.L., Mexico squared off with fellow compatriot (originally from Reynosa, Tamulipas, but raised in Texas) Garcia, who brought a five fight unbeaten run to the ring. He had not lost since being the comeback fighter selected for Antonio Margarito’s return to boxing following his knockout loss to Shane Mosley. Roberto Garcia took the fight on less than two weeks notice and was forced to shed a great deal of weight (up to 15 pounds) to get himself down to the 160 pound limit.
Gonzalez made Garcia follow him around the ring for much of the first round. His jabs and various shots couldn’t split Roberto’s high guard and he was caught flush behind the ear with a left hook just as the bell sounded. Norberto continued to jab, yet lunge into the second. He often looked to set up viable combinations, although his shots usually met the gloves of his Texas opponent. Still, he was doing more and kept moving, perhaps in the hopes of winning a decision by night’s end. He seemed to follow the same steps into round three. Garcia forced him into a corner midway through the period and he fought his way out. Roberto’s shots were slowly beginning to force their way in as the third was done.
Norberto Gonzalez continued his efforts in round four. He had thrown as well as landed more shots at this point. A left hook to his side courtesy of Roberto Garcia got his attention towards the end of the stanza. The Texas fighter seemed to be waiting for just the right time to strike and his strategy appeared to be of the wearing and tearing variety. He caught Gonzalez with another left hook, this time to the chin as the fifth round made its way to a close. Norberto’s energy level didn’t dip very much as the sixth commenced, although his jabs were no longer snapping. Garcia connected at times with various combinations and sought to apply the pressure with four rounds to go.
Gonzalez’s punches were now coming from his arms alone as opposed to any assistance from his core and legs once the seventh was underway. Two minutes had soon elapsed and Gonzalez continued to move about the ring. Garcia was unable to land the meaningful shots he so desperately sought. His technique which involved a left shoulder barge brought him some success throughout the evening and in round eight, he connected with yet another hard left to the head. Shortly thereafter, referee Celestino Ruiz decided that he’d seen enough of Roberto’s use of his left forearm to Gonzalez’s face to shove him backwards and deducted one point from the Texas man.
With two rounds to go, it would seem to most that Roberto Garcia would need to pick up the pace not just to gain ground on the cards, but to make up for the point deduction as well. So, he went headhunting in the ninth round and took a mild pummeling to his Mexican foe. Each fighter came out firing in the tenth and final period. Garcia was clearly going for the knockout as was evidenced by the straight shots and uppercuts he landed in the opening minute. Gonzalez landed an uppercut of his own with about a minute to spare. Garcia was coming with everything he had and brought the pain to Gonzalez, but he was unable to ultimately drop his opponent.
The final nod was left to the decision of the three ringside judges. This type of fight could easily have gone either way. Their respective scores were as follows for a split decision: 95-94 (Gonzalez), 96-93 (Garcia) and lastly 95-94 (Garcia). Roberto Garcia improved to (34-3, 22 KO’s) with his win this evening in Chicago, while Norberto Gonzalez’s spirited efforts weren’t enough as his record fell to (20-3, 13 KO’s). In a featherweight bout Kamil Laszczyk scored a unanimous eight round win over Daniel Diaz.
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