LAS VEGAS — The flow of the crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena is more a drip than a trickle at this point, with the majority of the arena about as empty as your average Las Vegas beer bottle.
In the very first bout of the evening, junior middleweight Eddie Gomez moved to 10-0 (7 KO) with a 3rd round technical knockout over Quinton “Hands” Whitaker, who fell to 9-10 (9 KO). The 1st round saw Gomez peg Whitaker with a nasty low blow which halted action for a moment, but Whitaker rose to stagger Gomez with a few wild shots. But from round 2 on, it was all Gomez, as he doubled an tripled up on jabs before landing a right hand in the 3rd that wobbled Whitaker badly, forcing referee Vic Drakulich to step in and halt the bout.
The second bout of the evening featured junior lightweight Sergio Thompson, who rose to prominence after defeating Jorge Linares earlier this year, against Carlos Claudio. Thompson pressed the action and began working just about every punch in his arsenal from the opening bell — especially a right uppercut. Claudio’s head movement was all but non-existent and he was geting hit at will, though he countered decently in the 2nd. But a series of body shots and some follow up sent Claudio into his own corner covering up, where he essentially took a knee. Rising at the count of about 9 and 3/4, he was likely mercifully stopped by referee Kenny Bayless. Thompson’s record improves to 23-2 (21 KO), while Claudio’s falls to 15-9-3 (8 KO).
Andres “Jaguarcito” Gutierrez made his U.S. debut by serving Carlos Valcarcel an uppercut sandwich — one where both the bread and the meat were made of uppercuts — en route to a 6 round unanimous decision. In round 1, Gutierrez slowly stalked Valcarcel, but didn’t offer up much offense against his retreating foe until about halfway through the stanza. In the 2nd round, Gutierrez followed quite a bit moe, but got his right hand working towards the end of the round, after several unsurprising warnings from Joe Cortez. Valcarcel traded to better effect in round 3, but caught some uppercuts for his trouble. Just before the 10 second warning, both men took turns putting the other on the ropes and unloading. Again in the 4th, Gutierrez caught Valcarcel with uppercuts as he leaned in, and rocked the Puerto Rican with left hooks as he tried to scoot away. A right hand burst into the equation soon after, though the game Valcarcel fought back bravely when he could. And more of the same in the 5th, with Valcarcel attempting to backpedal and Gutierrez getting the better of exchanges, working his uppercut overtime. Pressing to get something more done, Gutierrez looked as if he was trying to feint Valcarcel out of position in the 6th, and again more uppercuts were launched. Valcarcel landing his biggest shot of the fight, but it had almost no effect, despite the round likely being Valcarcel’s best. Scores of 59-55, 58-56 and 60-54 were turned in, all for Gutierrez, whose record goes to 23-0-1 (19 KO), while Valcarcel’s stands at 12-6-4 (5 KO).
In a junior lightweight bout, Francisco Vargas began the 1st round probing with jabs and looking to land hooks downstairs inside, but his opponent Victor Sanchez did well to launch uppercuts as Vargas leaned in to land body shots. The fighters exchanged entertainingly a number of times in the opening round, with Vargas generally getting the better work done. Round 2 may as well have been fought in a bathroom stall as both men stayed in close, landing big shots and taking them in return. It was again Vargas who had the upper hand, though, clearly rocking Sanchez a few times. The 3rd round was Hookfest 2012 as both fighters threw almost nothing but hooks in close for near a minute, and Sanchez began looking a bit weary as a result. Not much attention was paid to defense again in the 4th, though a bit of space opened up between the two and Sanchez was able to close the bout well. Scored of 39-37 and 40-36 twice rang in another victory for Vargas, whose record is now 13-0-1 (10 KO). Victor Sanchez’ ledger slides to 3-4-1 (0 KO).