AS THE fight entered the later rounds it appeared as if Brandon Figueroa would have to rally down the stretch to pull out a 12-round decision over Mark Magsayo, but that was not the case. While there is no disputing that the decision in favour of the Weslaco, Texas fighter was fair, the official scorecards more than flattered him.

Though the outcome seemed to be in doubt right up to the final bell, Judges Zachary Young (118-108), Gary Ritter (117-109), and Fernando Villareal (117-109), had Figueroa winning in a rout. Magsayo and his manager Sean Gibbons vented about the scoring in the dressing room afterward, as they did about referee Thomas Taylor deducting two points and his overall handling of the contest.

For what it’s worth, BN scored 114-112, Figueroa.

In many ways this fight played out as expected in that Magsayo, 27, would get off to a quick start before Figueroa’s relentless pressure would turn the tide. The Filipino tired badly down the stretch and was strictly in a survival mode by the end.

“I dominated him. It was pressure, pressure, pressure,” said Figueroa afterward. “He was feeling the punches to the body. I confused him a lot. He didn’t know what to do.”

Well, not exactly. It was a case of Magsayo being unable to maintain the pace, nothing more. After taking rounds two and three on all the judges’ scorecards, inexplicably he won only one more on two of them. Magsayo landed quality shots on his southpaw opponent throughout, but there was a sense they were thrown more with the intent of keeping Figueroa off him than anything else.

Working behind a good jab, Figueroa, 26, showed a sense of urgency coming out for the sixth round. He stunned Magsayo with a left and landed right hooks. Magsayo tried to steal the round by flurrying at the end as he did various times throughout the contest. In fairness to referee Taylor, he did warn Magsayo at various points about holding. Magsayo would lock up Figueroa’s left arm on the inside, a veteran move but one that is not exactly legal. In the eighth, the first of the two points was deducted. The action was also temporarily halted after the fighters clashed heads. The loss of a point spurred Magsayo on and he rallied with several combinations. Magsayo also got the better of things in the ninth for BN, though not on the official cards. His faster hands kept him ahead of Figueroa during the exchanges. But that was his last hurrah. The championship rounds were all Figueroa.

In the middle of the 10th a left hook to the body badly hurt Magsayo. He went down twice in the round in an apparent attempt to buy time, both called slips. Then in the 11th another point was deducted for holding. Taylor’s call was a little harsh, but considering the latitude he had given Magsayo the round before it evened things out.

Magsayo was exhausted and content to just see out the final round. He had come in a little over the 126 pound featherweight limit at the weigh in and had to be reweighed two hours later. Figueroa pressed the action, but the CompuBox statistics showed him throwing far less than in past matches. But credit to Figueroa for not being denied. With the victory Figueroa won the WBC’s interim featherweight bauble; a scrap with that organisation’s belt-holder, Rey Vargas, is expected to come next.

At one time former 154lbs belt-holder Jarrett Hurd was a force, but after being pulled out at the end of the ninth round against Armando Resendiz, he can’t be expected to be more than a gatekeeper going forward. Hurd was coming off of a 21-month layoff following a loss. Resendiz was supposed to be the type of opponent that would jumpstart his career, but the Mexican turned out to be a handful and even exceeded his trainer Manny Robles’ expectations.

To say that Resendiz came to fight was an understatement. His high work rate never wavered throughout. Hurd tried to match it and had moments of success, but simply could not maintain the torrid pace. Although it was stopped in the corner by the medics at the end of the ninth round due to a bad laceration of Hurd’s lip, officially it goes into the books at being halted five seconds into the 10th. Being that there was only one round left in the scheduled 10, not allowing Hurd to finish it out is testament to the severity of that cut. It would probably not have mattered anyway being that Resendiz was up on all three scorecards by margins of 89-82 and 87-84 twice.

Maryland’s Hurd, 32, tried to box and concentrate more on defence than he had in the past. He jabbed hard and found the range with jotting rights. At the end of four rounds things were going his way. But Resendiz, 24, never stopped coming forward and the energy drained from his opponent.

The seventh round was a classic, conjuring up memories of Arturo Gatti vs Mickey Ward. The fans at the Toyota Arena (PBC Promoted) roared with delight. The torrid pace continued until the end. There might be better middleweights than Resendiz, but you will be hard pressed to find just one who can match his drive and desire. Ray Corona refereed.

Elijah Garcia, a 19-year-old from Arizona, created a buzz by sensationally stopping Uruguay’s Amilcar Vidal at 2-17 of the fourth round of a scheduled 10. After a relatively even three rounds, southpaw Garcia forced Vidal to the ropes and hurt him with a right hook. A follow up barrage sent Vidal to the canvas. Referee Jack Reiss immediately waved it off without bothering to count.

Terrell Gausha, from Cleveland, landed a beauty of a right that dropped Los Angeles’ Brandyn Lynch at the start of the ninth round of their scheduled 10. Lynch went down twice more and it was stopped at 50 seconds of the round.

THE VERDICT – Figueroa gets the victory while Resendiz threatened to steal the show