Even without fans in the stands, it’s tough for an out-of-town boxer to get a fair decision when facing a hometown favorite.
Carson City’s Diego Elizondo fought highly touted lightweight Anthony Cuba to a majority draw on Saturday at the Shrine Exposition Center in Los Angeles.
Elizondo’s professional record now stands at 3 wins, 2 loses and 3 draws. The 18-year-old Cuba, a senior in high school, is 1-0-1.
One ringside judge scored the four-round bout 39-37 for Cuba, with the other two calling it a 38-38 draw. Marcos Villeges, the unofficial ringside scorekeeper for the television network FS1, said Elizondo won every round and he scored it 40-36.
Play-by-play announcer Brian Kenny inferred the same thing, saying, “The judges gave Cuba every benefit of the doubt.”
Cuba was ranked No. 1 nationally as an amateur before turning pro in October, scoring a second-round knockout win in his debut.
“I knew I was coming in on the B-side and that this was Leo Santa Cruz’s main man,” Elizondo told Tahoe Onstage. “I knew all that coming in. I just didn’t think they would do me like that. But they did and it is what it is. I am happy that even his promotional company said, ‘you won that.’ “
Elizondo was the aggressor from the opening bell. The only round that appeared close was the second. Tahoe Onstage fight analyst Simon Ruvalcaba scored it 39-37 for Elizondo. Tim Parsons had it 40-36 for Elizondo.
Elizondo pressed the action in the first round. He threw a pair of overhand lefts that grazed Cuba, putting him on his heels.
“Elizondo came to win,” former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis commented to the television audience.
A southpaw, Elizondo landed a sharp left in the second round, backing Cuba almost to the ropes. Later, Cuba landed a strong right. Elizondo scored a flurry of blows just before the bell.
“I was being conservative because I saw that every time I stepped in, he was trying to land a big shot,” Elizondo said. “But then again, he wasn’t really hurting me. He had some power on him, I’m not gonna lie, but I’ve been hit harder. He was a good fighter, for sure, but I feel I was the better fighter tonight.”
In the third, Elizondo again controlled the pace. Lewis praised Elizondo’s defense and said he could tell he had good sparring partners.
Elizondo took the fight on just 18 days’ notice.
Perhaps feeling he was losing the bout, Cuba fought with urgency in the first half of the fourth round. He used his strong arms to push Elizondo to measure him for a big punch. But Elizondo took over and opened a cut over Cuba’s left eye with a right-hand jab.
Clearly surprised by the judges’ decision, Elizondo looked to his father, Jose, who is his cornerman. However, he kept his chin up and bounced out of the ring with class.
“I’ve taken worse beatings in sparring,” Elizondo said.
CompuBox – which is hardly an exact science — had Elizondo landing and throwing more punches, 47 of 216, than Cuba, 41 of 196.
“He was very surprised by me,” Elizondo said. “He thought he was going to walk all over me and that I was just some bum. But I’m OK. I am glad I came out of the ring healthy and safe and he did too, but, man, it’s a little disappointing.”
The national television audience saw what happened, and Elizondo’s effort should lead to more opportunities.
“I told him there are no hard feelings unless you want to have hard feelings, but we’re going to run that back,” Elizondo said.