Ricardo ‘El Niño’ Sandoval celebrated his 21st birthday by making weight for his first fight of 2020.
Fight night was spent delivering his most complete performance to date.
The streaking flyweight prospect had his way with Philippines’s Raymond Tabugon, delivering a one-sided beating en route to an 7th round stoppage Thursday evening at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California.
Sandoval dropped Tabugon early in round two, battering him throughout before forcing the stoppage at 1:43 of round seven.
The willingness was there for Tabugon, but the disparity in skill level and overall freshness was apparent from the opening bell. Sandoval began the fight working behind the jab, though quickly falling in love with his right hand which was finding its target early and often. Tabugon remained active, throwing for the sake of keeping pace although not landing anything to catch the attention of his foe nearly eight years his junior.
Sandoval scored the bout’s first/lone knockdown early in round two. Tabugon loaded up on a left hook, which was blocked by Sandoval and countered with a hooker-cut on the inside which forced the Filipino gatekeeper to the canvas. The crowd was feeling it, with chants of ‘Niño’ filling the intimate venue. Tabugon beat the count and managed to have his moments later in the round as Sandoval was a bit overzealous in his pursuit of an early night.
Action slowed just a touch in round three. Tabugon fought off the back foot, looking to avoid a shootout after tasting his opponent’s power. Sandoval worked his jab, coming back with heavy right hands and cutting off the ring in the second half of the frame. Tabugon was forced to fight behind earmuff defense, which actually provided more harm than good as Sandoval ended the frame with a wicked right hand behind his foe’s high guard.
Tabugon managed to nearly match Sandoval in punches thrown in round four, though nowhere nearly as accurate or effective. Sandoval willingly took an occasional shot in order to get through with his right hand, landing in succession and slowly breaking down Tabugon, who spent much of round five covering up along the ropes as Sandoval continued to land in bunches.
Sandoval switched up his tactic—and stance—in round six, spending a significant portion of the frame fighting out of a southpaw stance, The young gun quickly flipped back to orthodox once he saw Tabugon was hurt, trapping him in a corner and unloading with right hands.
The sequence was enough for referee Edward Hernandez Jr. to ask Tabugon and his corner if he was able to continue. One more round was requested and granted, although it didn’t do any good. Sandoval flew out of his corner to begin round seven, punishing Tabugon to the body and then coming back with right hands to the chin. Tabugon was left on the defensive, nearly doubling over after catching a left hook while trapped in a corner. Left hooks to the body and chin was followed by an overhand right by Sandoval, prompting the referee to intervene and rescue Tabugon from additional punishment.
The loss is Tabugon’s second straight at this venue, having been halted in five rounds by former junior flyweight titlist Angel ‘Tito’ Acosta last October. He now falls to 22-12-1 (11KOs).
Meanwhile, Sandoval has now scored 14 straight wins in soaring to 18-1 (13KOs). The Riverside-bred product has stopped each of his last five opponents, with Thursday’s win representing his deepest career knockout to date.
The bout streamed live atop a DAZN-aired quadrupleheader.