Angelino Cordova has done it again.
The unbeaten Venezuelan flyweight pulled off his second consecutive upset win on another promoter’s show. The latest is by far his biggest to date, as he scored a stunning ten-round, unanimous decision win over former WBO junior flyweight titlist Angel Acosta. Scores were 96-93, 95-94 and 95-94 for Cordova, who survived a cut and a point deduction to prevail in their Golden Boy Fight Night on DAZN main event Thursday evening at Fantasy Springs Special Events Center in Indio, California.
The fight came more than nine months after Cordova won a surprise win over former title challenger Axel Aragon Vega last June 25 in Kissimmee, Florida. The free-swinging flyweight won a split decision that night in a fight where many felt Vega deserved the nod.
A similar sentiment was shared on Thursday, though Acosta’s inability to keep pace with Cordova proved his undoing. Cordova landed 184-of-704 total punches, significantly outworking Acosta who was more accurate but less active in landing 158-of-481 punches.
Fighting for the third time with noted trainer Joel Diaz in his adopted Indio hometown, Acosta attempted to apply those teachings to his already potent power game. The Puerto Rican knockout artist didn’t get the chance to show his full arsenal in a 75-second knockout in his previous outing last May 12 at this venue.
Acosta threw every punch with the intention of delivering a knockout, true to his career form of having earned all but one of his 24 victories inside the distance. Cordova showed a sturdy chin and survival instincts, as he remained upright from every home run punch launched by Acosta. A strange sequence occurred near the end of round two, when Acosta floored Cordova with a pair of body shots. Both punches came after referee Ray Corona warned both fighters to break, which prompted Cordova to flop to the canvas.
Time was called but Cordova received the harsher warning of the two for excessive holding. Acosta was merely instructed to do a better job of listening to the referee’s command.
Cordova was dealt with more adversity in round three. A clash of heads left the unbeaten Venezuelan with a slice over his left eye. The initial ruling was that the cut was caused by a punch before Corona corrected the call in between rounds.
Acosta was throwing heavy leather and dialed in with his right hand in round four. Cordova applied a win-at-all-costs approach which cost him a point after being disciplined for frequent rabbit punching. Both fighters let their hands go after the infraction, with the crowd brought to its feet from the two-way exchange.
Cordova gained confidence from the round-ending barrage and carried it over into round five. Acosta continued to launch hard right hands upstairs and digging body shots, but Cordova almost always had a response as he showcased a high engine. Acosta stayed the course with his power game but left himself open for right hands to the body by Cordova, none of which had much impact but presented the suggestion that he was in the fight.
Acosta planted his feet and threw vicious left hooks both upstairs and to the body in round six. Cordova responded with a body attack and an overhand right that caught Acosta on the chin. The overzealousness of Cordova continued to draw the ire of the referee, who issued a final warning for rabbit punching and put the threat of disqualification on the table.
The mix of Cordova’s tireless workrate and his assortment of questionable tactics appeared to frustrate Acosta. It showed in round seven, where his punch output dramatically decreased and seemed to lack the same pop as was the case in preceding rounds. Cordova continued to press forward, while Acosta twice looked to the referee for help as he twice more complained of getting hit behind the head.
Acosta returned to the body in round eight. Cordova continued to let his hands go but most of the steam was off his punches. It wasn’t the case for Acosta who found his second win and rallied late in the round after dislodging Cordova’s mouthpiece with a left hook.
Acosta repeated the feat midway through the ninth round. A left hook to the chin along with a body shot caused Cordova to unintentionally spit out his mouthpiece, though it went undetected by the referee for nearly 30 seconds. Cordova managed to tie up long enough to force a break in the action and avoid additional punishment.
The knockout never came for Acosta, though not for a lack of trying. He had Cordova badly rocked on two separate occasions in the tenth and final round, but Cordova wisely clinched. It turned out to be enough to cling to his lead on the scorecards as he advanced to 18-0-1 (12KOs).
Acosta fell to 23-4 (22KOs) and has now suffered three defeats in his past six starts. The decision marked just the third time he was forced to go to the scorecards but suffered his first defeat outside of a title fight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox