Professional boxing returned to Roswell Saturday night for the first time in nearly five years, with a flurry and exchanges and heavy hitting that led to four knockouts in the six bouts at the Roswell Convention & Civic Center.
In the main event attended by many families and children, Roswell’s John Herrera and Belen’s Gene Perez battled toe-to-toe throughout the full six rounds, with Herrera losing a unanimous decision that did not sit well with many in the hometown crowd that was behind Herrera.
The judges scored the fight 58-55, 57-56 and 60-53, all in favor of Perez.
Perez improves to 2-9-1 in his pro boxing career, while Herrera drops to 4-18-2.
Herrera took the fight to Perez throughout most of the fight in the 132 pound division, keeping Perez on the ropes. But midway through the first round, Perez, a southpaw, landed a stiff left to Herrera’s head, dropping him briefly before Herrera got up before the count. The knockdown points proved the difference in the tight score at the end.
Perez came out aggressively and kept Herrera on the ropes for much of the first round, before turning the tables and putting Perez on the ropes for subsequent rounds.
“Come on Junior,” said a large group of Herrera supporters near ringside.
Both boxers mixed it up frequently in the corner, but were not able to put the other away. On several occasions, Herrera had Perez pinned to the ropes, but the scrappy southpaw from Belen battled his way out of the corner.
In the fourth round, both fighters swung away more freely, working up the crowd looking for a knockout as Herrera swung and connected often, but was unable to put Perez on the canvass.
The pace of the fight slowed down in the fifth round until Herrera again got Perez on the ropes, who was spitting blood and bleeding from the nose at that point. The two boxers stayed within range of each other nearly the whole fight, with frequent exchanges.
In the sixth and final round, Herrera again got Perez on the ropes, scoring often as he tried to put Perez away. The fight ended with a flurry, with both boxers staying on their feet.
Villa vs. Lopez
In the co-main event, Roswell’s Richard Villa won by knockout in the first round over Elk City, Oklahoma’s Mauricio Lopez in the 195 pound division.
Both fighters threw big blows early in the fight, with heavy shots to the head delivered by Villa.
After ducking a punch from Lopez, Villa, a right-handed boxer, delivered a right cross, followed by a devastating left inside punch that buckled the knees of Lopez.
Lopez fell in the middle of the ring, where the fight was promptly stopped by the referee as it became apparent Lopez was unable to continue.
With the a technical knockout, Villa improves to 2-0-1 while Lopez drops to 0-2.
“I felt it right off the bat that he was going to come out swinging, so I hit him first and hardest,” Villa told the crowd after the fight. “I respect my hometown. It’s been like eight and a half years since I fought in my hometown. Let’s keep this sport alive here in Roswell. We’re tough here.”
Perez vs. Reyes
In another tough bout, Roswell’s Augustin Perez and Hobbs’ Ricardo Reyes battled it out for the full four rounds, with Perez winning a unanimous decision in the 132 pound division bout.
It was the professional debut for both boxers. Perez is a detective for the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office.
Both fighters were timid the first round, sizing each other up with the occasional quick flurry.
Perez, wearing trunks saying El Chicano, got Reyes on the ropes in the second round, landing a good right cross that had Reyes wobbling.
In the third round, Perez remained in control of the fight, backing up Reyes. The boxers stayed close to each other, but not tie up, leading to a lot of points on inside shots from Perez who out-worked Reyes from close range.
In the fourth and final round, both fighters come out hot, working hard to land blows with minimal defense.
The crowd shouted “Junior, Junior,” trying to give Perez the muscle to put Reyes away, but Reyes hung on until the end, with good counter-punching, and forced a decision.
The two fighters were so close to each other throughout the bout that one ringside boxing fan said if was like they were “fighting in a phone booth.”
In the final seconds of the fight, Perez landed several shots to the head of Reyes, who counter-struck with his own blows in a fast and furious finish.
“It was a tough fight, but I’m proud of it,” Perez told the crowd in the post-fight interview. “When I was in the fight, I heard your shouts and it pushed me even more.
“It was a great, great win for me and my wife.”
Reyes said it was a tough battle, and he’d like a rematch.
“He wanted it more, but I did my best,” Reyes said. “If it’s alright with the detective, I’d like to see a rematch.”
Perez improves to 1-0, while Reyes is now 0-1.
Huerta vs. Acosta
The fight between Roswell’s Israel Huerta and Omar Acosta had to be stooped early by the fight doctor after Huerta’s left eye ballooned in the first round of the heavyweight division bout.
Acosta improved to 1-1, while Huerta dropped to 1-3.
After feeling each other out with jabs, Acosta began delivering body blows. In one of the exchanges, Huerta took a shot to the eye, which rapidly swelled up. The fight doctor checked his eye after the first round and said Huerta could not continue.
Acosta said the deciding blow occurred when he came over the top and hit Huerta’s eye.
“So I knew I had him,” he said.
Lara vs. Ruiz
Tim Ruiz of Herford, Texas won by knockout in the second round over Roswell’s Raymond Lara in the 147 pound division.
Lara was very fast with flurries early in the fight, but Ruiz proved a strong counter-puncher.
Lara took a hard shot to the head while in the corner that clearly dazed him. But Lara got up at the 8-second count and finished the first round, which he may have won on points if he had not been knocked down.
Ruiz came out aggressive in the second round, throwing numerous blows, most of which were blocked by Lara, who countered with roundhouses.
Lara was hit hard again, and fell back to the ropes where he dropped. He got up and was ready to go after a standing 8 count, but the referee called the fight a knockout for Ruiz at 2:49 into the second round. Lara fell to his knees in disappointment, wanting to continue.
Ruiz said he knew Lara would be “swinging for the fences.”
“After shot is a real thing, homie,” Ruiz said to the crowd.
It was the pro boxing debut of both fighters.
Portillo vs. Espinoza
Oscar Espinoza of Hobbs won by knockout over Ysidro Portillo of Odessa, Texas, in the 185 pound division.
Portillo came out swinging, but was dropped by a counter-punch early in the first round. Espinoza landed several more hits in the first round, with big blows to close the the round.
Portillo stayed aggressive in the second round, but was again floored by a counter-punch from which he could not continue,. The fight was stopped at 1:32 in round 2.
Espinoza improves to 2-1, while Portillo lost his boxing debut.
Promoter Isidro Castillo said Saturday’s fights were the first professional boxing event in Roswell since December 2012. The event was sponsored by the School of Hard Knocks Boxing Academy of Hobbs.