Left! ... Left! ... Left, right, left!: “Sergeant” Sammy Vasquez marched all over Jose Lopez on Tuesday, but with his fists in place of his feet.
Fighting on his home turf at the California University of Pennsylvania Convocation Center in California, Pennsylvania, a short drive from the 147-pounder’s native town of Monessen, Sammy Vasquez Jr. (20-0, 14 KOs) gave his highly vocal fan base plenty to cheer for as he blasted Lopez (25-4-1, 14 KOs) en route to a fifth-round TKO.
There were uniformed soldiers in the crowd supporting Vasquez, himself an Army National Guard war veteran, and he fought with the intensity of an infantryman barreling from a foxhole in the heat of battle.
From the opening bell, Vasquez confused his opponent by coming at him from multiple angles and controlling the distance of the fight, battering Lopez with well-timed left hooks and hard uppercuts.
“His body was wide open every time he came with the right hand,” Vasquez said afterward. “When he came in with the double right hand he left his ribs wide open. I wanted to key in on the body, but his head was right there. He bent over and was ready to take punches.”
Lopez kept bulldozing forward, eager to engage and wanting to brawl, but Vasquez was too slick and crafty, juking and jiving out of harm’s way as he countered with accuracy.
He’d feint and then circle Lopez, who became frustrated, compensating by charging at Vasquez fruitlessly. It was the difference between a machine gun’s wild spray and the precise fire of a sniper’s rifle.
Although he was in control the whole fight, Vasquez really started to dominate in Round 4, when he landed a head-swiveling fusillade of blows in the center of the ring.
“I rolled with the punches with him,” Vasquez said. “He got tired after he tried to get me on the ropes. Once I popped him with a couple uppercuts and a hook, I knew I hurt him.”
The next round, Vasquez dropped Lopez with some whipsaw punching that Vasquez initially thought ended the fight.
Lopez beat the count of referee Gary Rosato, but it was he who was truly beaten. Rosato would soon stop the fight after Vasquez floored Lopez with another onslaught, resulting in a TKO for the unbeaten local favorite.
“He came forward, he was very tough,” Vasquez said. “He just wanted to punish me, but I keyed in on my opportunities and got him out of there.”
Afterward, Lopez was predictably distraught.
“I wanted to attack the body and put some pressure on him from the first round,” he said. “I am very disappointed. I came here to win.”
The final stats were grim for Lopez: Vasquez found home on 108 power punches, connecting at a rate of 57 percent, to Lopez’s 40 power punches landed (17.5 percent).
The look on Lopez’s face afterward, though, was grimmer still.
For complete coverage of Vasquez vs Lopez, visit our fight page.
Promising prospect Omar Douglas remains undefeated with easy victory
Rising 130-pound prospect Omar “Super O” Douglas (15-0, 11 KOs) remained undefeated by coming with more hooks than can be had in grandpa’s tackle box.
Unleashing a relentless body attack that seemed capable of loosening the cartilage from his opponent’s rib cage, Douglas hammered a game Braulio Santos (12-3, 10 KOs), who hung in there despite being dropped in each of the first two rounds.
In an occasionally rough-and-tumble scrap, both fighters were docked a point on separate occasions: Douglas for rabbit punching in Round 5 and Santos for a low blow in Round 7.
“He laid in the middle, was a bit of a rough guy,” Douglas said afterward. “He was headbutting, pulling and everything. When we got inside we banged heads a lot. The ref was saying I was hitting on the top of the head, but he was coming in so low.”
Douglas remained relentless, though, using a hard jab to set up those sweat spraying lefts. At times, he flung his punches so forcefully, his swing approximated the hard, wide arc of a field worker harvesting wheat with a scythe.
This was the first time Douglas went past six rounds in a pro fight and he did so in style, winning a wide unanimous decision (96-90, 99-87, 97-89).
“It was a tough fight,” Douglas said. “It was the kind of fight that I needed. I haven’t had a tough fight like that in a long time.”
In the other televised fight of the evening, 140-pounder Milton Santiago (12-0) celebrated his 19th birthday by blowing out his opponent like the candles on his birthday cake.
No longer a high schooler, Santiago took Alvaro Ortiz (7-4) to school instead, blitzing him with left hooks and overhand rights, powered by superior hand speed and excellent lateral movement.
Santiago didn’t use his jab much, relying almost exclusively on power shots. As a result, Ortiz was able to continually come forward and press the action.
Still, Ortiz was never able to land anything substantial as Santiago picked him apart en route to winning a unanimous decision (60-54 on all three scorecards).
The fight was Santiango’s first on national TV. It likely won’t be his last.