Zepeda wins dubious decision over Bazan, Gonzales decisions Mercedes
By Victor Garcia (February 20, 2005) 
Friday evening was filled with boxing events on various networks. Still, Spanish language broadcaster Telefutura was able to put on an entertaining fight card for its weekly boxing series Solo Boxeo. The main event matched two very exciting super lightweight fighters who currently find themselves struggling to earn recognition and title opportunities. With both fighters in serious need of a victory, the fight came to a controversial and bloody end in the opening seconds of the ninth round.

In a bout scheduled for 10 rounds, Ernesto “Baby” Zepeda of Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico won a technical decision against the usually tough Cesar Bazan of Mexico City, Mexico. Both men entered the ring with generous applause from the audience in attendance. Although Zepeda walked in with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. by his side, there seemed to be no crowd favorite at the beginning of the fight.

As the bell rang, marking the beginning of the contest, both men met center ring and traded jabs. The feeling-out period ended quickly as Zepeda took the early initiative. Circling the full area of the ring, the man from Sinaloa used movement to avoid Bazan’s shots and used fluid combinations to score on his opponent’s body and head. For his part, Bazan did well in cutting off the ring, but seemed hesitant and slow. Still, the crowd came to life when they realized that the man known as “Baby” was trying to make an early statement. A game Bazan made every attempt to answer in kind but was unable to be as effective as his opponent.

With the tone and pace of the fight set in the opening frame, the second round started where the first left off: with Zepeda landing crowd pleasing combinations that snapped his rival’s head back and with Bazan plodding forward, hoping to land one fight-ending bomb. As the faster man worked the body, his punches strayed low and referee Bobby Ferrara was forced to call time to allow Bazan a short recovery period and to warn Zepeda. When the contest was called to action, the two warriors instantly exchanged unpleasantries. With hooks and uppercuts flying, the audience cheered its approval loudly. Smartly, Zepeda, who is known to bleed from cuts in most of his fights, stepped away from the post-low-blow brawl and boxed from the outside as he had done earlier. Unfortunately for Bazan, he was now forced to reach with his punches, often leaving himself open to counterpunches.

A hush fell over the crowd after the third episode as the fourth was late in starting. It was revealed that the ringside physician had called time in order to examine a cut over Bazan’s right eye. Although Bazan insisted it was from a clash of heads, the referee informed all parties concerned that it was from a punch. After the doctor indicated that the fight could continue, the Mexico City native’s corner could be heard pleading loudly with their fighter, imploring him to press the action and throw more punches.

However, it was not until the fifth round that Bazan fought with a sense of urgency. After the bell sounded marking the start of the stanza, Bazan rushed forward, finally putting punches together that targeted the body and head of his adversary. Zepeda, with faster hands, still managed to land the cleaner punches and continued to be effective. After a particularly eventful exchange, the two men clinched. Inexplicably, as the referee was physically separating the combatants, Zepeda threw and landed an uppercut. Bazan immediately used his boxing glove to rub his right eye. Without hesitation, the third man in the ring called time and deducted a point from the offending boxer. After this, the fight fell back to its pattern, with Zepeda fighting beautifully from the outside as Bazan followed, no longer being effective in cutting off the ring.

Zepeda had made good use of the ring throughout the match. Nonetheless, he chose to come out aggressively in the eighth. Bazan was now stepping backward as Zepeda marched forward. The change in fight plan proved to be effective. With a roaring throng of supporters yelling noisily, Zepeda landed five clean and unanswered punches that sent his challenger reeling into a corner. For his part, Bazan managed to stay on his feet and fire back. A newly aggressive Zepeda was caught with an uppercut that caused a cut between his eyebrows. Though it seemed small, the wound visibly bled.

The sudden and violent end came 13 seconds into the ninth round as a desperate Bazan rushed in with a left uppercut that caught Zepeda as he was bending down at the waist. The brilliantly timed blow caused a ghastly gash to the right cheek of the bending fighter. Blood flowed heavily and instantly from the huge wound. The referee called a halt to the action and allowed the ringside doctor an opportunity to examine the cut. Upon seeing the slice, the physician asked that the bout be stopped.

Unfortunately for Bazan, the official in the ring ruled that the cut was caused by an accidental head butt and ordered the fight be decided by the scorecards. As Cesar Bazan rightfully protested that the fight should be a technical knockout victory for him, the scores were announced as 78-73 twice and 79-72, all for Ernesto Zepeda.

The loss leaves Cesar Bazan, who vowed to appeal the decision, with a record of 44-7-1 (29), while Ernesto Zepeda ups his record to 36-8-3 (32).

In the co-feature bout of the evening, former amateur standout Jesus “The Hammer” Gonzales of Phoenix, Arizona won a lopsided eight round decision over unheralded Alberto “Soldier” Mercedes of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The middleweight bout was not difficult to score as the young hometown hero easily outboxed Mercedes. Gonzales spent most of the fight potshotting his overmatched foe from the outside. Every punch landed by the southpaw to the Dominican’s head or body elicited a loud response from those in attendance.

In the end Gonzales pitched a shut-out, earning scores of 80-72 from all three judges. The win leaves the unbeaten young prospect with a record of 14-0 (10). The loss gives Alberto Mercedes a three fight losing streak and drops his score to 12-9-1 (8).
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