Vazquez KOs Simonyan in first defense

*By Jerry Magee*
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

December 29, 2004


JIM BAIRD / Union-Tribune
Junior featherweight champ Israel Vazquez lands plenty of rights before
stopping Art Simonyan in the fifth round last night.

Israel Vazquez was wearing black gloves when his fight began last night
and red gloves when it ended. With the gloves of both colors, he was
equally destructive.

With the black gloves, the stylist from Mexico City knocked down Art
Simonyan in the third round, inflicted a cut below the Armenian's left
eye and had him bleeding profusely from the mouth.

In the fourth round, Vazquez had to change to red gloves after a slash
developed in one of his black gloves. Vazquez kept the red gloves on for
only 99 seconds - the 40 seconds remaining in the fourth round when he
put them on, and the 59 seconds of the fifth that he required to stop
Simonyan.

Vazquez (37-3, with 28 knockouts) thus made a successful first defense
of his IBF junior featherweight championship before what a Sycuan
spokesman said was a sellout gathering of 460 at the Sycuan Resort and
Casino.

For Simonyan (14-1-1, seven KOs), this was a first defeat. The Armenian
was in the scheduled 12-round fight through the first two rounds, but in
the third Vazquez reached him with a thunderous right. A following left
hook deposited Simonyan, clearly dazed, in his corner.

Simonyan received a three-minute break in the fourth round while Vasquez
was changing gloves, but his reprieve was brief. In the fifth, the
champion got across another right that caused his rival to sag.

Although Simonyan did not go down, Dr. James Jen Kin, the referee, gave
him an eight count. In concluding, Vazquez went on the attack again and
Jen Kin moved in to spare Simonyan additional punishment.

Frank Espinoza, Vazquez's manager, said this was one of his man's best
fights. The winner's trainer, Freddie Roach, said he had anticipated
that Vazquez would be able to take Simonyan out, but not this quickly.

"Art just couldn't handle Israel's power," said Roach.

From sparring with Simonyan, Vazquez said he had gained the impression
that his opponent did not possess a strong chin.

"I didn't feel my strength," said Simonyan. "My punches were not there.
I had no energy. I felt stiff."

The undercard was made up of six scheduled four-rounders. For punching
power in these bouts, there was the sweeping right with which Shawn
Ross, a 254-pound heavyweight from Murrietta, knocked out Bernard Gray
of Oakland at 32 seconds of the third round.

For brevity, there was Crystal Hoy of Las Vegas stopping Sara Huntman of
Los Angeles at 31 seconds of the first round in the evening's only
women's match.

For class, there was Eddie Mapula, a junior welterweight from Tijuana
who would seem to have a future. He had too much in every area for
Hector Rivera of Michoacan, Mexico, and referee Raul Caiz Jr. wisely
called off matters following the third round.

For Mapula, 20, this was his fifth knockout in as many appearances.

For excitement, there was the cruiserweight go between Moses Matovu of
Las Vegas and Shane Johnston of El Cajon. Johnston, dropped in the
opening round of his first pro bout, rallied and had his rival reeling
in the second, but Matovu was able to gather himself and win a unanimous
decision.

In the other bouts, welterweight Francisco Maldonado of Guadalajara,
Mexico, outpointed Mauricio Borques of Caliacan, Mexico; and heavyweight
James Horton of Pomona knocked out James Harling of Las Vegas with a
counter right in the opening round's final second.

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