By Elisa Harrison
Updated: August 29, 2005

FLORIDA—Felix ‘Tuto’ Zabala, Jr.’s “All Star Boxing: The New Generation” promoted the evening of boxing, hosted by Miccosukee Gaming and Resort in Miami and broadcast by Telemundo. Zabala’s promotions always bring out enthusiastic sell-out crowds, and on Friday, February 6, the tradition continued.

The main event of the evening was a duel for the vacant WBO Latin Middleweight title, between two champions in their own right, Mexican Rito “Relampago” Rubalcaba and Colombian Epifanio “El Diamante” Mendoza.

On paper we knew this would be an exciting fight to watch. After having attended the press conference on Wednesday, where he had the chance to talk to both participants, we were positive this was going to be an exceptional war of attrition.

Mendoza and Rubalcaba expressed a desire to win, as quickly as possible, and understood very clearly how much it meant to get the TV exposure and to earn the vacant belt. They were ready to go on Wednesday, and the hunger carried over into their ring date on Friday.

For the record: Epifanio Mendoza was a late substitute who took this fight on less than one week’s notice.

Round 1 – Very good opening round, both men tasted each other’s power. Mendoza connected freely with looping right hooks that left him exposed and could prove dangerous as the fight goes on…

10-9 Mendoza.

Round 2 – Mendoza comes out very strong, swinging for the fences, and Rubalcaba is rocked, he is laboring and shaken by Epifanio’s power punches.

10-9 Mendoza.

Round 3 – A huge left hook puts Rubalcaba on the mat, and although the brave Mexican beats the count, he continues to eat heavy leather at the hands of Mendoza throughout this round.

10-8 Mendoza.

Round 4 – Rubalcaba catches Mendoza with heavy shots to the head, and both men use their jabs more in this round. Mendoza’s jab is accurate and hard, but Rito is getting back in the fight here. Rubalcaba’s jab and strong right crosses to Mendoza’s head shake the Colombian. It is Rito’s best round.

10-9 Rubalcaba.

Round 5 – A fierce battle is taking place in the ring, with both fighters pouring it on, hurting each other, working head and body at a grueling pace. This fight can’t possibly go 12 rounds…

Even round.

Round 6 – Although he is beginning to show signs of exhaustion, Mendoza presses on with tremendous heart. He concentrates on Rito’s body in this round, hurting the Mexican veteran, slowing his punches output to a crawl. Both fighters continue to show great courage and although toward the end of the round they look totally spent, neither stops trying to outdo the other. The crowd is on its feet for the end of this round, cheering, and clamoring, appreciative of the all out effort being displayed by the fighters.

10-9 Mendoza.

Round 7 – Chants of “Mexico” and “Si se puede” seem to bring Rubalcaba back to life. There is bounce in his legs now and although the left side of his face is swelling badly he still does enough to win the round. Mendoza seems to have slowed down his output here, but is never really hurt or shaken by Rubalcaba’s punches. Perhaps Mendoza needed to take the round off in order to proceed.

10-9 Rubalcaba.

Round 8 – Fifty two seconds into the round a refreshed Mendoza explodes with a huge right bomb to Rubalcaba’s head, which lands him on his knees and unable to beat the ten count. The crowd is wild with excitement, on its feet, chanting “Colombia” over and over, and Mendoza and his team are just as ecstatic at the outcome of the match.

Colombia has a new champion, his name is Epifanio “El Diamante” Mendoza and he fought a career defining battle tonight.

I must confess that I thought the world of Mendoza when he demolished Tokunbo Olajide in October of 2002. I was less than impressed with him though when he fought at the Seminole Coconut Creek Casino in Florida against Shawn Garnett, a losing battle for the WBC Latin American Light Middleweight Title, in March 2003.

Mendoza was heard complaining about pain in his shoulder that evening, and eventually underwent surgery to correct the problem. Since then he has scored two knockouts and has garnered two titles in as many fights. After tonight’s performance I feel confident that “El Diamante” has what it takes to be a world champion.

His defense is a bit faulty, his offensive style a combination of Ricardo Mayorga’s right hand bolado and Wayne Braithwaite’s looping but powerful hooks. His power is unquestionable, and if this young man continues to apply himself he will be a hard bone to pick in the middleweight division.

The possibilities for him in that weight class are endless, and while many fans see Jermain Taylor as the heir apparent to Bernard Hopkins, may I suggest we don’t overlook the punching power and the tremendous heart Epifanio Mendoza has been gifted with.

Congratulations to Epifanio Mendoza and his team on a superb, career defining fight.

~~~~~~~ In the house: Ricardo ‘El Matador’ Mayorga and his attorney Tony Gonzalez, Randall Bailey, Freddie Pendleton, and Devo Frias who shared the good news regarding his friend Glencoffe Johnson, now the new IBF light heavyweight titlist.

In case you are wondering, Mayorga and legal eagle Gonzalez were in town to meet with Don King and map out Mayorga’s future plans.

~~~~~~~ Undercard Results:

Emanuel Medina ad Cornel Harris – No Contest (Harris suffers a cut and is unable to continue after two of the scheduled four rounds, thus the No Contest ruling).

Timor Ibiagimov TKO 4 over Joseph Kenneth Reyes. Official Time: 2:28 Gil Reyes TKO2 over Fray Luis Sierra (Sierra refused to come out for the second round).

Lenin Arroyo KO1 over Henry Matos. Official time 2:17 Giorbis Barthelemey scores a unanimous decision over Vincent Harris. Official scores: 78-73, 77-74, 79-73.

Luis Reyes TKO3 over Delio Castillo. Official time 1:35

In closing we wish to congratulate all the winners, as well as promoter Zabala, Miccosukee Gaming and Resort, and Telemundo, for a job well done. We look forward to the next presentation.

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