|Photo by Gabriel F. Cordero at ringside|
The Battle started well before the first bell of the bout when the ring only measured 16 ½ ft inside the ropes, contrary the WBA regulation 18 ft minimum. After threatening the promoter to walk out he, ordered some quick adjustments, still falling short by a foot, loosening the ropes to make it 17 ft inside the ropes.
By this time, I’d had enough with the shenanigans that had plagued this card from the beginning, starting with change of locations and tricking us into thinking that the fight was going to be at a location with lower elevation than Las Cruces, and at the last minute changing the venue to a 6,000 plus altitude venue in San Luis Potosi.
With the TV lights and no air conditioning in the building, the heat inside the ring was ridiculously hot and stifling, the hottest I‘ve ever felt! The promoter, who labeled Austin-Lopez’s fight a USA vs. Mexico battle, worked up an already hostile bunch that were chanting Mexico, Mexico, causing a deafening echo throughout the venue, working the crowed up to a frenzy that I thought would erupt into a piñata party, us being the piñata’s.
Lopez was as tough as we thought he’d be, walking Austin down through out the fight and looking for the big left hand he’s so good at sneaking in. The fight started with Austin out boxing Lopez and turning him in circles and working off a snappy jab. With Austin connecting with some beautiful straight and overhand lefts, momentarily stiffening Lopez. Austin got away from the game plan after round two, because he felt he hurt Lopez and wanted to go home early.
Even though Lopez might have been stunned early, he seemed to get stronger as the fight progressed and after four rounds, with Austin loading up at times, the elevation and horrendous heat, he started slowing down, letting Lopez back into the fight, by connecting some straight lefts. In the corner, I could see that the heat and Altitude was taking it’s toll. We did what we could to cool him down and freshen him up and make it clear that he was losing control of the fight. Around the 7th round he got his second win and got back on the game plan of out boxing and turning Lopez and staying away from his wicked left hand. Even though Austin couldn’t avoid every punch thrown, he did avoid a ton of them, but gong into the 10th he’d gotten hit more times total than every other fight he’s had combined.
11th round on showed just how much heart Austin has, he and Lopez landed some bombs, but Austin stuck with the plan of boxing and when he didn’t Lopez would connect, forcing Austin to come back firing punches, to maintain control of the round. The 11th round was a heart stopper, with Austin getting his feet caught up on the ropes and going down. The referee, called it a slip, but easily could have ruled it in the other direction. Seconds after the referee wiped off Austin’s gloves, Austin floors Lopez! Austin went in for the kill but couldn’t make any headway and got back to the lateral movement and working off the jab.
12th round, Austin was told to box, we felt we had the fight in the bag and didn’t want to take any chances. That order was executed for about 2 minutes of the round, when Austin wanted to put an exclamation mark on the finality of the fight. He obliged Lopez by engaging in a round closing slugfest, both fighters landing blows in a last second flurry. In the exchange Lopez landing a monster left, to conclude the exchange and the fight!
There was no doubt that Austin had won a hard fought decision against, in my opinion, Mexico’s best middle/light-middleweight. But, boxing has it’s surprises and being in Mexico, you can’t celebrate too early.
As hoped for and expected Austin won a hard fought unanimous decision. The crap pulled by the promoter to gain an advantage did not taint Lopez’s performance. He fought with a Mexican heart, and showed his 52 fight experience, when he was able to capitalize on Austin’s occasional breakdown in a usually flawless defense. He proved strong and durable as expected. We were glad that we prepared for such a warrior and knew he was there to take that precious hardware “the WBA belt” away.
Austin and myself would like to thank all the support that came from both sides of the border, and let everyone know that this victory was dedicated to YOU!