In the end, Reno’s Oscar “El Chapito” Vasquez proved to have Biggest Little Heart in the World. But it takes more than heart to win a world boxing championship.
Despite a courageous effort, the super-flyweight lost his first fight in almost six years to a rising 19-year old contender. Vasquez lost a unanimous 8-round decision to Rialto, California’s Ricardo “El Nino” Sandoval before an audience of more than 1,200 on Friday at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.
Surrounded by family and friends afterward in the dressing room, Vasquez was emotional and circumspect.
“I don’t cut corners and I don’t make excuses,” he said. “I gave boxing 100 percent of my life. … I am 30 years old and I want to enjoy my family and friends and my life. I think it’s the end of ‘Chapito’ Vasquez.”
The Vasquez-Sandoval bout was the main event on a five fight card. Vasquez, who’s only other loss came in June 2012, now has a 15-2 record with 3 knockout wins. Sandoval improved to 13-1 with 8 KOs.
Santos “Titos” Vasquez, who is Oscar’s younger brother, (5-2-2) fought to a 6-round split draw with Puerto Rico’s Bryan “Brillo” Aquino (11-2-1).
Carson City’s Diego Elizondo (2-0-1) and St. Louis’ Canton Miller (3-1-1) fought to a majority draw in a four-round fight.
Blake “The Beast” McKernan (8-0, 6 KOs) of Sacramento scored a third-round technical knockout over Daniel Arambula (4-3) of Jalisco, Mexico.
A no contest was ruled in the Frank Sanchez (6-0, 6 KOs) vs. Lamont Capers (9-11, 1 KO) bout after Capers fell out of the ring. Capers absorbed a wicked right hook and apparently was pushed through the ropes, landing backward on the concrete floor. He was unable to continue.
Reno’s super-featherweight Ricardo Lucio-Galvan had been scheduled to fight but his opponent failed to make the agreed upon weight of 140 pounds.
Sandoval, a natural 112-pound flyweight, is on a fast track. He turned pro at the age of 17 and has won nine fights in the last 16 months, including a bout in the same Reno venue last November.
Sandoval set the tone early against Vasquez, who weighed 114 pounds. The younger fighter fired quick jabs to the head early in the first round, then started to go to the body with jabs. Vasquez waded forward with a wide stance.
In the second round, Sandoval scored a three-punch combination to the head. Vasquez answered with one. Two more blows by Sandoval landed before he hit Vasquez with a low blow. Vasquez came back with a big left hand.
By the fourth, Vasquez was bleeding from the mouth and it already felt like he was running out of time. He tried throwing looping punches, which were ineffective. With an indefatigable mind-set, the shorter, older boxer slowly walked Sandoval into a corner. But like a Rock’em Sock-em Robot with new batteries, Sandoval stood tall and delivered blows, eventually backing Vasquez. Nevertheless, the toe-to-toe action seemed to enthuse Vasquez, who smiled and raised his right glove after the bell rang.
Vasquez pressed the action in the fifth, but found his target elusive. Sandoval displayed good head movement to complement his precision left jab. The older fighter was stubborn and again absorbed blows and walked the teenager into a corner. But the boxers traded places after deft spin move. Vasquez was the one cornered just as the bell rang.
The sixth and seventh rounds were Vasquez’s best, but he still lost them. He bravely went all out in the eighth but Sandoval was undaunted.
After the final bell, Sandoval looked like he could go another eight rounds. He pitched a shutout on each judge’s scorecard, 80-72.
“He looked drained,” Sandoval said. “He looked dry. I stayed busy but he’s tough. I was never hurt. I hurt him a couple of times with body shots and another time with a head shot.”
“I didn’t feel like myself tonight,” Vasquez said. “I have a lot of things going on in my life. I have to consider if I want to continue my career. I want to enjoy my life and my family and give them the whole Oscar Vasquez.”
He was asked when he thought he might lose.
“Two weeks ago,” he said. “Fighters don’t retire because they lose. They retire when consistently bad things happen in training camps. Two weeks ago I had an ailment. I had to suck it up and I lost and that’s the way it is.”
“I wanted to give Reno a champion of the world. Every fight takes a little bit out of you. If you don’t get the title shot at the right time pieces of you stay in the ring and in the gym. I want to thank Reno for a good six-year run. They packed this (arena) and I’m a flyweight!”
Vasquez was asked about his opponent.
“He’s nothing special. He’s just young and hungry and has the whole world ahead of him.”
Related story: Carson City’s Diego Elizondo battles to a draw.