Marriaga TKOs Robb in Fallon Fights |

Marriaga TKOs Robb in Fallon Fights

Mike Sciandra

Upsets were the unifying theme in the ninth annual Fallon Fights Saturday night at the Churchill County Fairgrounds.

The first came when Reno’s Oscar Vasquez announced he would not be competing for the NABO Light Flyweight Championship against Janiel Rivera due to a last minute weight discrepancy, and the second came in the main event when Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga won by technical knockout against Guy Robb in the sixth round to win the Featherweight Championship bout.

“That was a very important fight because winning this fight was the key to get a title fight challenge,” Marriaga’s manager and promoter Ricardo Maldonaldo said in an interview. “We are sure the next time he faces a championship he will be the winner.”

Marriaga (24-1, 19 KOs) did not have the crowd in his favor with the heavy support for Robb (18-2, 8 KOs) throughout the fight, but that didn’t stop him from driving Robb into each corner and picking away at his guard until a brief window was all he needed to win. Marriaga landed an awkward but momentous downward hook which connected right between Robb’s eyes to drop him, and although Robb was up with two seconds left before the 10-count, the referee ruled in favor of a TKO. Those in the crowd to support Robb seemed surprised and outraged at the call.

“Not for us,” Maldonaldo said. “We were very comfortable with the result of the fight. We expect all the time to be the winners, but you never know how a fight is going to be. We were very sure we would win. Not by a TKO in the sixth round, but he could’ve won the draw of his fight. It was a very good performance by Marriaga.”

Robb and Marriaga’s bout wasn’t the end of the night, however, when Oscar’s brother Santos Vasquez and Brooklyn’s Basyzbek Baratov fought to a draw in the last bout of the night. Vasquez (2-2-1, 1 K0) and Baratov (1-1-1, 0 KOs) split at 38 to 38 even, both coming out of their corners swinging wild and ending in tense grapples more often than any other bout that night.

Baratov said he did not feel his opponent was much of a challenge despite evidence to the contrary, his third pro-debut to Santos’ fifth.

“It was a very fast-paced fight, but I do not feel that Vasquez matched my speed or accuracy,” Baratov said. “As for what I would work on for any future fight with him – I would not let him off of the hook next time. I took it very easy on him in the 4th round because I felt that I dominated him during the first three rounds. Next fight I will not let up on him at all. As a matter of fact, I will turn up the intensity to where he will want to quit.”

Baratov added he enjoyed the event and the fight overall, and is eager to meet Santos in Reno for their next bout to beat him, as he said, decisively and with no doubt even form his own fans.

“There was no challenge,” Baratov said. “I outboxed him for the first three rounds, to where I felt comfortable enough to sail through the fourth. This was simply a winnable fight, and I felt that I was the clear winner. Next time he is in for one long night, as I will turn up the heat on him.”

Though the arguably most intense bout ended the night, the opening bout between Gelacio Cruz of McAllen, Texas and Jose Gonzalez of New York, NY, had almost as many grapples in four rounds before Gonzalez won by unanimous decision. Gonzalez (5-0-1, 2 KOs) might not have had the reach against Cruz (2-5-2, 1KO) with the longer jab, but he definitely had the speed and never got pinned down without being tied up.

Pedro Moreno out of Sacramento, Calif., won 40 to 30 over Rafael Vasquez from Bayamon, Puerto Rico in the bloodiest show before nightfall. Rafael’s left temple swelled up and his nose gushed down to his white trunks after the barrage by a shorter, faster Moreno (3-0, 2 KOs).

While Kendrick Holloway (Houston, Texas) talked a big talk against Blake McKernan (Sacramento, Calif.,) at the weigh-in, the boasts turned out to be all talk afterall when McKernan won by TKO in the third of four rounds. Holloway (0-1-1, 0 KOs) spent most of the match trash-talking from the end of a light innefectual jab while McKernan (3-0, 2 KOs) never dropped his guard and never once gave in to retorts.

Next was Alex McGee’s turn to shine, joining the number of fighters from Mighty Mites gym in Reno who have beaten Las Vegas’ Sergio Lopez. McGee (2-0, 0 KOs) in his second pro debut kept on the defensive all round long, sticking the jab and outlasting a shorter, more experienced opponent without giving into the need to charge.

“The best part of it is I fought a tough fighter who has fought a lot of other tough, great fighters,” McGee said, who felt he took advantage of his height and reach. “So it felt good for me to beat him in my head because of those that beat him in his short career. I think we stuck right to the game plan, which was ‘don’t get hit, stick to the outside, throw a lot of jabs’ and that’s exactly what we did.”

Jose Felix Jr. (34-1-1, 25 KOs) won his match with Rob Frankel (34-17-1, 7 KOs) two minutes into the sixth round by TKO, one of the more even matches of the night where neither Felix nor Frankel landed any tremulous punches but rather wore each other down completely at the body to see whose guard would slouch first. Soon after the main event and Baratov’s bout with Santos would send Fallon fans home happy, despite Oscar’s likely disappointed fans among the crowd.

“I think it would’ve been awesome seeing him fight,” McGee said of Oscar, who stayed the night to support his brother. “Santos, Oscar, when they win, I win. When they lose, I lose. But it was a great show. It was an awesome turnout and the crowd was so involved, so it was a good experience.”