TUCSON, Ariz. -- Fernando Montiel, Jhonny Gonzalez, Daniel Ponce-DeLeon and Hugo Cazares won their WBO title fights Saturday night, carrying Mexico to a team victory over Thailand in the inaugural "Boxing World Cup." The six-bout team concept for boxing was the brainchild of Golden Boy Promotions.
The six-man team from Mexico won the $200,000 gold-and-diamond trophy by a 5-1 score, but their victories did not come easy. The team from Thailand was game and
courageous in defeat at the Desert Diamond Casino.
In the main event, WBO 115-pound titlist Montiel retained his belt with a unanimous decision over Pramuansak Phosawan. Montiel, who won by scores of 114-112 (twice) and 115-112 had to get up from an eighth-round knockdown to secure his points win. In Phosawan, now 29-1-1 (17), the talented Los Mochis fighter faced a mirror image -- an explosive and quick-witted counter puncher. The two speedy boxers went tit-for-tat for 10 rounds before Montiel stepped up the pressure in the championship rounds, dropping the tough Thai fighter in the 12th round to punctuate his win. Both boxers sported bruised right eyes after 12 rounds; Phosawan's right eye was grossly swollen.
"I plan to unify the 115-pound titles against the best," Montiel, who improved to 32-1-1 (24), said after the fight, calling out fellow junior bantamweight champs Martin Castillo and Luis Perez. "I hope no one runs from me."
In the co-main event, Gonzalez won the WBO bantamweight title from defending champion Ratanachai Sor Vorapin with a seventh-round stoppage. Gonzalez, who improved to 31-4 (27), dropped Vorapin three times but had to dig deep to put the veteran Thailander away.
After dropping the first two rounds to the more experienced champ, Gonzalez found his range with a hard left uppercut that put Vorapin down twice at the end of the third round. Vorapin got out of the third round and survived the fourth on veteran savvy. Gonzalez jumped on the Thai hero, cut up his face and pressed him to the ropes in the fourth, but Vorapin used keen upper-body movement and well-timed left counters to see his way to the fifth round. Vorapin stormed Gonzalez in the fifth, pressing Gonzalez
behind hard left hands despite the rivers of blood that poured from his lacerated face.
Vorapin appeared to put Gonzalez down with a body shot in the sixth, but it was ruled a low blow by referee Robert Byrd. Vorapin tried to press his advantage with non-stop pressure and punching, but he opened himself up to a perfect counter left hook from Gonzalez that dropped him hard at the end of the round. Gonzalez jumped on the 28-year-old veteran at the start of the seventh round and Byrd wisely stepped in to save Vorapin from undue punishment.
Vorapin, one of Thailand's most decorated fighters, dropped to 65-9 (42) in a valiant effort to keep his title.
For Gonzalez, the victory was bitter sweet, as one of his closest uncles took his own life just two weeks before this fight.
"This win is a big weight off my shoulders because of the loss of my uncle, " he said. "[Vorapin] hurt me many times during the fight. I knew he would keep getting up when I knocked him down. Only my preparation saved me. I know my uncle would have been proud of me if he were here, and he would have told me so."
In the second HBO Latino-televised bout of the evening, Ponce-DeLeon won the WBO 122-pound title with a hard fought decision over Sod Looknongyangtoy. DeLeon, who improved to 27-1 (25), had to get up from a second-round knockdown to win his first world title. Looknongyangtoy, who dropped to 25-1 (10), gave the Chihuahua native hell during the first half of the fight with his quick counter punches, sharp technique and footwork. Only DeLeon's heavy and consistent jab and relentless body attack allowed him to out-work the bold Thai fighter down the stretch.
Still, Looknongyangtoy was unsatisfied with the official verdict, a unanimous nod for DeLeon by scores of 115-112 (twice) and 118-109.
"I cannot accept this decision," he said. "I dropped him in the second round; I out-boxed him. I felt I won."
DeLeon looked ahead to a unification bout with the winner of the upcoming rubber match between WBC champ Oscar Larios and IBF titlist Israel Vazquez.
"Larios or Vazquez," he said, "whoever is next. This win tonight was the ultimate redemption after losing for the first time at the start of the year."
In the opening championship bout of the card, WBO 108-pound titlist Hugo Cazares got off the canvas in a wild sixth round to stop game Kaichon Sor Vorpain (Ratanachi's younger brother) in the same round. Cazares improved to 22-3-1 (16) in what was perhaps the best fight of the night. Vorapin, who dropped to 17-8 (6), was dropped in the second round, but got up and acquitted himself quite well in rounds three, four and five by taking the fight to Cazares, who got caught with quick right hands while switching between right-handed and southpaw stances.
In the sixth it looked like Vorapin was on the cusp of a historic victory -- his two older brothers have won world titles -- but Cazares weathered the storm and took him out with a perfect left hand delivered from the southpaw stance. Bobby Ferrera counted Vorapin out at 2:14 of the round.
"I dropped my my left and he caught me with a right," Cazares said. "That was my mistake."
Added Vorapin: "I tried my best but he was just too strong."
On the undercard, Terdsak Jandaeng, a once-beaten featherweight contender from Thailand, improved to 19-1 (13) with a 10-round split decision over former title challenger Carlos Contreras, of Mexico, who dropped to 20-11 (13). In the opening bout of the card, Mexico's German Cruz earned a fourth-round stoppage of Petch Windysports with a non-stop assault in the final round of a four-round featherweight bout he was losing. Cruz improved to 16-3 (13). Windysports dropped to 1-2.