Jesus Soto Karass & Yoshihiro Kamegai Fight to a Split Draw
By Michael Montero: Friday night in Los Angeles, Golden Boy Promotions put on their biggest “LA Fight Club” yet. Boxing diehards had been salivating since the announcement of the main event, as Mexican brawler Jesus Soto Karass and iron-chinned Japanese warrior Yoshihiro Kamegai squared off in a ten round junior middleweight bout.
Most pundits felt this was a surefire Fight of the Year candidate, and that’s exactly what it turned out to be. For the capacity crowd at the Belasco Theater in downtown LA, this would be a night they would not soon forget.
There would be no feeling out process in the opening round, as both men went right to work. By the second round they were fighting in a phone booth and Kamegai appeared to have swelling above his right eye. Soto Karass appeared to land the bigger shots in the first two rounds, but the Japanese fighter settled in and controlled the third and fourth. From that point on it was a seesaw battle with both fighters having big moments. Kamegai would box well in spots from the outside, and then fall into lulls where Soto Karass would land crushing blows that snapped his head back and exploded the partisan crowd. The Mexican, who now resides in nearby North Hollywood, California, would look to take the upper hand, only for Kamegai to come storming back. He displayed the better technique, but Soto Karass was busier and appeared to land the bigger shots.
Heading into the tenth and final round, most of the crowd was on their feet and ringside observers felt it could go either way. Both fighters unleashed a fury of punches, especially Soto Karass, who landed an astonishing 63 of 168 shots before the closing bell. One judge scored it 97-93 for Kamegai, another 96-94 for Soto Karass, and a third judge saw it even at 95-95, for a split draw. Most of press row felt Kamegai had edged it out, but were ok with the draw. The even verdict more than likely ensures a rematch later this year at a bigger venue on network cable. Both men have earned it. Soto Karass, now 28-10-4 (18KO), landed 352 of 1,132 total punches (31%), while Kamegai, now 26-3-2 (23KO), landed 321 of 754 (43%).
In the co-main, Ukrainian bruiser Vyacheslav Shabranskyy put his undefeated record on the line against fringe contender Derrick Findley, of Chicago. The much taller Shabranskyy (6’2”) teed off on the 5’6” Findley from the onset. This was simply target practice for the technically superior Ukrainian, who hurt and dropped his opponent at the end of the second round. Findley beat the count, but was getting tuned up as the bell sounded. As he walked to his corner he motioned to his trainer that he was done, and the fight was called off. Shabranskyy improves to 16-0 (13KO), but this type of matchmaking did nothing more than keep him busy.
Local San Diego product Genaro Gamez won his pro debut via first round stoppage in the TV opener. Gamez battered Georgia native Archie Weah (now 1-6) from pillar to post before dropping him for the count of ten near the close of the first round.
On the untelevised undercard, Jonathan Navarro improved to 5-0 (4KO) with a second round stoppage in a welterweight bout, and two other fighters won their pro debut. Super middleweight Niko Valdez and super featherweight Jousce Gonzalez both won their pro debuts via first round stoppage.
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