Victor Morales had to work much harder than was the case in his previous and more notable outing.
Less than five months after he blasted out Diego De La Hoya inside of two rounds, the unbeaten prospect had to fend off a determined Edwin Palomares to take a ten-round, unanimous decision victory. Scores were 100-90, 99-91 and a more realistic 96-94 for Morales in their DAZN-aired co-feature Saturday evening from Commerce Casino in Commerce, California.
Palomares came determined to not leave the fight in the judges’ hands, and for good reason. In addition to fighting on a Golden Boy Promotions show versus a GBP fighter, Palomares was cheated out of a win in a controversially re-scored draw versus Sebastian Tinoco in their February 10 battle in Guadalajara. The local commission changed the scores twice, separately announcing each fighter as the winner within minutes before a third review of the cards resulted in a draw verdict and a weeks-long scandal which followed.
Morales was prepared for the aggressive Mexico City native and brought firepower of his own. Both boxers landed left hooks during a terrific two-way exchange and didn’t have to travel very far to find each other in the ring.
Palomares went on the attack in round three. Morales was forced to fight off the ropes as the visiting Mexican launched right hands and left hooks upstairs.
Morales was encouraged between rounds to use his superior boxing skills. The Vancouver, Washington native heeded the advice and outworked Palomares in round four.
It didn’t last long, however, as he lacked the firepower to keep his foe at bay. Palomares seized control in round five and landed enough body shots to slow down Morales, who showed visible signs of fatigue at the midway point.
Palomares continued to stalk the mobile Morales in round six and froze the unbeaten prospect in his tracks with a right uppercut. A cut immediately formed under Morales’ left eye, though referee Ray Corona ruled that the wound was caused by an earlier accidental clash of heads.
Morales used constant movement in rounds seven and eight to minimize the damage to his left eye, which was beginning to swell shut in addition to the cut. Palomares struggled to pin down the 25-year-old, who landed clean combinations upstairs and used his range to connect with long right hands.
Greater success was enjoyed by Morales in round nine, as Palomares was made to look more like a plodder than his earlier stalker mode. Morales set traps and scored with a lead right hand as he drew Palomares to the ropes.
Far more contact came in the tenth and final round. Against his corner’s advice, Morales planted his feet and launched power shots which allowed Palomares to land at close quarters. The tactic reaped benefits for Morales, who rocked Palomares with a series of right hands in the final minute of the fight. Palomares (18-5-2, 9KOs) was out on his feet but nearly caught a break when Morales (19-0-1, 9KOs) mistook the ten-second clapper for the final bell. Morales quickly regrouped and punched his way to the end to earn his latest victory.
Headlining the show, unbeaten lightweight contender William Zepeda (28-0, 24KOs) faces former title challenger Mercito Gesta (34-3-3, 17KOs) in a scheduled 12-round bout.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox