Sonsona avenges loss to Vazquez Jr.


NEW YORK -- When Marvin Sonsona and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. first met in 2010, Vazquez scored a fourth-round knockout to win a vacant junior featherweight world title.

Oh, how times have changed.

Four years later they met again, this time as featherweights and, in a much more competitive fight, Sonsona won a split decision on the Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto undercard on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Two judges had it for Sonsona on scores of 96-92 and 96-92 and the third judge had it for Vazquez, 96-92. also had it for Sonsona, 95-93.

"It was a tough fight even though I didn't fight as well as I should have," Sonsona said. "I tried my very best. I am so happy about the win. I had a hard time with him. He's a really good fighter."

Said Vazquez, "He's a dirty, rotten fighter. I tried to pressure him. He kept holding. He got in one good punch, the one that knocked me down. I thought I won easily."

Sonsona, a southpaw, started fast, dropping Vazquez in the first round with a left to the body. But Vazquez did not seem hurt and got right back into the fight.

In the sixth round, referee Steve Willis took a point from Sonsona for hitting Vazquez behind the head.

Sonsona (19-1-1, 15 KOs) was badly shaken up in the seventh round when Vazquez hit him in the nose with an accidental head butt that was enough to cause him to go to the mat. He had time to recover and then was hurt again when Vazquez, who had swelling around his left eye, nailed him with a low blow.

They tumbled to the canvas near the start of the 10th round when they got tangled up and they closed the round in messy fashion as Vazquez (23-4-1, 19 KOs) swung wildly and nearly caught Willis.

Sonsona, 23, a former junior bantamweight titleholder, is now 5-0 since first Vazquez fight, including a third-round destruction of former junior featherweight titlist Akifumi Shimoda in February in Macau, China. Vazquez, 29, is just 3-4 in his last six fights.

Maciel outslugs Melendez

Junior middleweight Javier Maciel (29-3, 20 KOs), who took the fight on 1½ weeks' notice, outslugged Jorge Melendez (28-4-1, 26 KOs) to win a 10-round majority decision in an action fight.

Maciel won 97-91 and 96-92 on two scorecards while one judge had it 94-94. also had it for Maciel, 96-92.

Melendez, 25, a Puerto Rican fighter promoted by Cotto, was originally supposed to face former junior middleweight titlist Yuri Foreman. However, Foreman pulled out a week-and-half ago because of a dispute with his manager, even though he had already been training for weeks.

Maciel, 29, of Argentina, was the third choice for the fight. Melendez's handlers preferred Delvin Rodriguez or Luciano Cuello, but neither were available and Maciel got the fight.

Maciel had a big fourth round. First he took a low blow that referee Harvey Dock docked a point from Melendez for. The then Maciel dropped Melendez late in the round with a right hand and had him in trouble as it came to an end.

Maciel had another big round in the seventh, when he trapped Melendez in his own corner and teed off on him with overhand rights and looking for cover. After the round, Melendez was greeted in his corner with three slaps to his face from Edwin Diaz.

Melendez, who is 2-2 in his last four fights, came out going for a knockout in the 10th round and rocked Maciel with a powerful right hand early on. Maciel looked exhausted but he hung in there and they finished the fight in a toe-to-toe exchange.

• Junior middleweight Andy Lee (33-2, 23 KOs), who moved down in weight from middleweight, scored a spectacular fifth-round knockout of John Jackson (18-2, 15 KOs), the son of former two-division titleholder Julian Jackson, in a fight he was clearly trailing.

Jackson had a big first round, rocking Lee with a right hand and then dropping him with an overhand right. Lee made it out of the round but was in all kinds of trouble. He did more damage in the second round, but Lee was able to stay on his feet.

Jackson continued dominate Lee until the fifth round. During the round he caught Lee and wobbled him along the ropes. But when they got into an exchange, Lee landed a counter right hand that sent Jackson down face first. Referee Benjy Esteves did not bother to count and waved off the fight at 1 minute, seven seconds.

"That's a shot worked on all camp long," said Lee, 29, of Ireland. "I wasn't so hurt in the first round, but I was definitely dazed. I knew I was losing so there was definitely a sense of desperation. That Irish blood in me, when I get hit, I lose my temper and I want to hit him back. I couldn't be happier with my performance tonight. I'm ready to take on any 154-pounder in the world."

The loss snapped Jackson's five-fight winning streak.

"I ran into a bad one. It was a lucky punch," said Jackson, 25, of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Julian Jackson, who trains his son, said, "We'll be back. I guarantee my son will be a champion someday."

Lee, a longtime middleweight contender, won his fifth fight in a row since suffering a seventh-round knockout loss challenging then-middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in June 2012.

• Lightweight Felix Verdejo (12-0, 9 KOs), the sensational 21-year-old super prospect and 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian, obliterated Engelberto Valenzuela (9-2, 3 KOs) of Mexico in the first round.

Verdejo, who had the crowd going wild, was all over Valenzuela from the outset, rocking him with big shots with both hands. He dropped him under a hail of punches after badly hurting him with a right and a left. Valenzuela was game to continue but he wobbly and taking tremendous punishment before referee Arthur Mercante Jr. stepped in and stopped it at 1 minute, 17 seconds.

• Junior featherweight prospect Jose Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs) of Puerto Rico soundly outboxed Raul Hidalgo (21-11, 16 KOs) of Mexico for a near-shutout decision win in a fight that drew booing from the crowd for the lack of action. But Lopez stuck to his plan to box and move against Hidalgo and was rewarded with scores of 80-72, 80-72 and 79-93.

• Puerto Rican junior lightweight prospect Jose Pedraza (17-0, 10 KOs), who professed excitement before the fight to be on Cotto's undercard, unloaded a crushing attack on Mexico's Arturo Uruzquieta (15-7, 5 KOs) and stopped him in the first round.

Pedraza swarmed him from the outset and pounded him, especially to the body. He was working Uruzquieta over before he slumped to the canvas and referee Arthur Mercante waved it off without a count at 2 minutes, 19 seconds.

• Fringe junior middleweight contender Willie Nelson (22-1-1, 13 KOs) of Cleveland dropped Darryl Cunningham (29-7, 11 KOs) of Detroit, twice in the first round en route to a knockout at 2 minutes, 43 seconds. After the second knockdown, Cunningham was on his feet at nine but he had taken a pounding and referee Eddie Claudio called it off on advice of the ringside doctor.

The fight was Nelson's first since a shaky 10-round decision win against Luciano Cuello last June and a subsequent left elbow injury that forced him out of a middleweight fight against former title challenger Matthew Macklin in December. Nelson suffered a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his left elbow during, which is what caused the year layoff.

• Flyweight Jantony Ortiz (1-0, 1 KO), 19, a 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian, made an explosive professional debut, taking out Elio Ruiz (1-5, 2 KOs), of Plainview, Texas, at 1 minute, 51 seconds of the first round. Ortiz, looking poised, put together a blistering and extended combination to drive Ruiz to the canvas in a corner. While on one knee, he turned his head to look at his corner, seemingly making it clear he would not continue. Indeed, he took the full count from referee Ricky Gonzalez before popping up.