Fighting

Miami resident Gonzalez scores first-round victory in front of home fans

pportal@miamiherald.com

Yuniesky Gonzalez had knockdowns on his mind, and Junior Jackson paid a heavy price.

Stung by decisive loses in his previous two bouts, Gonzalez barely broke a sweat, as the Miami resident and native of Cuba scored a first-round technical knockout over Jackson in the main event of a boxing show Saturday night at the DoubleTree Hotel near Miami International Airport.

From the opening seconds of the scheduled 10-round bout, Gonzalez (17-2, 13 KOs) displayed his dominance, peppering Jackson with solid rights and lefts to the head. Thirty seconds into the round, Gonzalez dropped Jackson with a left hook to the head.

Jackson (21-7) quickly reached his feet, but Gonzalez followed with additional combinations that sent him to the canvas for a second time. Gonzalez patiently stalked his outclassed opponent and scored additional combinations to the head. One of the combinations ended with an overhand right to the head, sending Jackson to the canvas again.

The three-knockdown rule forced referee Frank Santore to stop the bout at 2:35 of the round.

“My plan was to knock him down whenever I had an opportunity,” Gonzalez said. “If he was allowed to get up again, I would have gone after a fourth knockdown and a fifth knockdown after that.”

With the quick finish of an overmatched opponent, Gonzalez hopes to remain in the mix for top light-heavyweight bouts. And future marquee fights could earn Gonzalez additional appearances on HBO, where he lost hard-fought decisions against Jean Pascal and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy last year.

“This performance hopefully convinces HBO to consider me in its future fight plans,” Gonzalez said. “My goal is to return to HBO.”

The undercard bouts of Saturday’s show, which attracted approximately 1,500 fans, featured a strong contingent of South Florida-based fighters.

Miami resident Courtney Jackson survived a knockdown and scored a tight, unanimous-decision victory over Ramesis Gil of the Dominican Republic.

Jackson (10-0) was the busier fighter in the early rounds of the six-round, junior-welterweight bout, landing combinations to Gil’s head and body.

But the fight’s tide changed in the fourth round, when Gil (10-16) floored Jackson with a left to the head. Gil pursued Jackson and scored additional combinations to the head.

Jackson recovered late in the fifth, stunning Gil with a right to the head and additional follow-up combinations.

All three judges scored the bout for Jackson, 57-56.

Although his three-fight knockout win streak ended, Fort Lauderdale’s Antonio Williams still looked dominant in his unanimous-decision victory over Puerto Rico’s Brian Santos.

Williams (4-0) outclassed Santos (0-2-1) with lead left jabs and follow-up rights during the four-round lightweight bout. Williams connected effectively from close range and distance. All three judges scored the fight for Williams, 40-36.

“It’s not disappointing that I didn’t get the knockout,” said Williams, 19. “What’s important is that I’m working.”

Ten months after arriving from his native Cuba, Miami resident Leider Peña had a successful professional debut, scoring a second-round technical knockout over Ryan Soft of Rapid City, South Dakota.

Peña’s heavier shots bloodied Soft’s nose early in the bout. Midway through the second, Peña pressured Soft (3-6- 1) in a corner and landed unanswered combinations, and referee Sam Burgos stopped the middleweight fight at 2:21 of the round.

“My plan was not to get careless and chase him; I knew my punches did damage,” Peña said. “The first fight is the one that can get you going. Now that I started with a win, it gives me additional confidence going forward.”

Miami heavyweight Tyrone Spong remained unbeaten and without having to last the distance after his second-round TKO win over Boston’s Tracey Johnson. Spong is now 5-0 with five knockouts.

In a middleweight fight between Miami residents, John David Martinez won by split decision over Clifford Gray.

In other bouts: super middleweight Roamer Angulo knocked out Zoltan Papp at 1:23 of the first round; junior middleweight Henrique Oliveira won by unanimous decision over Miguel Queliz; and lightweight Ivan Jimenez won by unanimous decision over Ryan Picou.

SANTOS A. PEREZ

STRIKERS LOSE

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers lost to the host Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1 on Saturday night.

The Strikers fell behind 2-0 before getting on the scoreboard on a goal in the 71st minute by Jose Angulo. Manny Gonzalez got the assist.

The Rowdies scored both of their goals just after halftime, with Keith Savage scoring in the 50th minute and Joe Cole in the 58th.

MIAMI FC CRUISES

Miami FC rolled to a 4-0 win over host Minnesota United FC. Miami FC got goals from Jonny Steele in the ninth minute, Ariel Martinez in the 21st, Kwadwo Poku in the 26th and Aaron Dennis in the 87th.

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