Bantamweight contender Joshua Greer Jr., who is close to a mandatory shot at a world title, took control in the second half of the fight and won a unanimous decision over Antonio Nieves on Saturday night on the undercard of the Shakur Stevenson-Joet Gonzalez vacant featherweight world title bout at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada.
Greer, who won his 19th fight in a row since 2015, was favored by the judges by scores of 96-93, 95-94 and 95-94 despite suffering a questionable knockdown in the 10th round.
“I always find a way to win,” said Greer, who retained his regional belts. “I’m a real champion at the end of the day, I’m gonna get the win. I’m going home a winner and he’s going home a loser.”
The fighters went back and forth for much of the fight. They both landed good shots, but Nieves’ best blow came in the fourth round when he landed a powerful left hook that sent Greer into the ropes, although he stayed on his feet and Nieves could not do much following up.
In the final seconds of the sixth round Nieves opened up and landed a clean right hand and followed with a combination, but the bell rang before he could do any more damage.
Greer picked up the pace later in the fight and landed many solid body shots to slow down former world title challenger Nieves.
In the eighth round, Greer (22-1-1, 12 KOs), 25, of Chicago, landed a left hand that was way below the belt, but before referee Robert Byrd could warn him, Greer landed a right hand to knock Nieves down. Byrd did not count the knockdown and gave Nieves times to recover.
Early in the 10th round Nieves (19-3-2, 11 KOs), 32, of Cleveland, was credited with a knockdown by Byrd when Nieves hit Greer behind the head but Byrd did not call a foul. Replay officials let the call stand even though the video clearly showed the punch was behind the head.
Greer, who was coming off a controversial 12-round decision against Nikolai Potapov on July 13, would like to fight for a title and he’s close to landing the opportunity but declined to call anyone out.
“It don’t matter to me,” he said. “Whoever Top Rank puts in front of me, I’ll get the job done.”
Nieves came into the fight having won two in a row following back-to-back losses, including a sixth-round knockout when he challenged Japanese pound-for-pound star Naoya Inoue for a junior bantamweight world title in September 2017.
Mayer batters Zamora
Junior lightweight Mikaela Mayer, a 2016 U.S. Olympian, retained her regional belt for the third time, scoring a first-round knockdown and stopping Alejandra Soledad Zamora after the sixth round.
“Next is hopefully a world title shot,” said Mayer, who wants to challenge world titlist Eva Wahlstrom (22-1-2, 3 KOs) of Finland. “Hopefully, we can get it down on paper and have it happen in early 2020.”
Mayer (12-0, 5 KOs), 29, of Los Angeles, dominated Zamora from the outset and laid a beating on Zamora until Zamora’s father/trainer stopped the bout with her on the stool after the sixth round.
Mayer started fast and never let up. She scored a knockdown about 30 seconds into the fight when she landed a combination, including a hard right hand, with Zamora along the ropes. Zamora (7-4, 1 KO), 30, of Argentina, who was boxing outside of her home country for the first time, went down to her rear end but got up quickly and fought back and seemed OK.
But Mayer teed off nonstop round after round. Zamora was taking tremendous punishment before her corner signaled to referee Russell Mora that they were done for the night.
Zayas blasts Wynn in pro debut
Welterweight Xander Zayas, 17, the youngest fighter to sign with Top Rank in the company’s 53-year history, made his professional debut with an easy first-round technical knockout of Genesis Wynn.
Zayas (1-0, 1 KOs), a Puerto Rican from Plantation, Florida, was 16 when he signed with Top Rank in March but could not fight professionally in the United States until he turned 17 on Sept. 5.
Zayas, an 11-time national amateur champion, had no trouble with Wynn (1-1), 31, of Denver. He knocked Wynn to the canvas with a right hand, and then moments later dropped Wynn again with another right hand, after which referee Jay Nady waved off the fight without a count at 1 minute, 24 seconds.
“I felt super good,” Zayas said. “I was relaxed and focused because I knew we had worked hard in the gym. I just followed the game plan my team established. I have a great team around me. This is only the beginning.”
Bell routs De Alba
Junior lightweight Albert Bell (16-0, 5 KOs), 26, of Toledo, Ohio, cruised past Frank De Alba (23-5-2, 9 KOs), 32, of Reading, Pennsylvania, in an action-free snoozer.
Bell spent most of the fight flicking his jab and moving against the extremely inactive De Alba to win 80-72 on all three scorecards.
Bell was following up his career-best 10-round decision win over then-unbeaten Andy Vences on June 15, but although he dominated De Alba, the crowd booed the lack of action at various times during the bout.
There was so little action that during the sixth round referee Vic Drakulich called a timeout, brought the fighters to the center of the ring and admonished them for their lack of activity.
Sanchez wins four-rounder vs. Elizondo
Lightweight Mike Sanchez (6-0, 2 KOs), 22, of Colton, California, scored a knockdown and won a unanimous decision over Diego Elizondo (2-1-2, 0 KOs), 21, of Carson City, Nevada. The judges had him winning 39-36, 38-37 and 38-37.
Sanchez had the biggest moment of the fight in the final minute of the third round, when he landed a wide right hand for a flash knockdown that forced Elizondo to put both of his hands on the mat to catch himself from landing on the seat of his pants. Elizondo’s loss comes on the heels of back-to-back four-round draws.
Esparza edges Conway
Lightweight Francisco Esparza Jr. won a split decision over Matt Conway in a hard-fought bout. Two judges had it 76-75 for Esparza, and one had it 76-75 for Conway.
Esparza (10-1-1, 3 KOs), 24, of Las Vegas, nearly ended the fight in the first round when he scored a clean knockdown with a left hook that put Conway on his back with one minute to go. Esparza roughed Conway up for the rest of the round, but Conway managed to make it to the bell.
Esparza again rocked Conway (17-1, 7 KOs), 24, of Pittsburgh, with a left hook in the opening moments of the third round, but Conway survived and came on strong to make the fight close, even after suffering a cut and bruising under his right eye.
Esparza successfully rebounded from his first loss — a 10-round decision to unbeaten Aram Avagyan on May 4 on the Canelo Alvarez-Daniel Jacobs undercard.
Mariano shuts out Cerveny
Reno-based welterweight JJ Mariano (2-0, 1 KO) gave his cheering hometown fans a shutout victory over Sean Cerveny (0-2). All three judges had Mariano winning 40-36.
Mariano had no issues with the hard-charging but very limited Cerveny, 26, a former MMA competitor from San Antonio.
Mariano opened a cut over Cerveny’s left eyebrow with a right hand in the second round and manhandled him throughout the fight with numerous three-punch combinations.
Mariano, 25, closed strongly in the fourth round when he landed a flush left hook to Cerveny’s cheek to stop Cerveny’s last attack.
Vences outpoints Bernaldez
Junior lightweight Andy Vences rebounded from his first career defeat to easily outpoint Mark Bernaldez. All three judges scored the bout 79-73 in Vences’ favor.
Vences (23-1-1, 12 KOs), 25, of San Jose, California, suffered his first loss on June 15, a 10-round decision to Albert Bell.
It was a different story this time out, as Vences got off to a quick start against Bernaldez, who never really got into the fight except for a strong fifth round.
Bernaldez (19-3, 13 KOs), 28, of the Philippines, opened a cut over Vences’ left eye and had Vences a bit rocky along the ropes and looking to clinch during his brief surge. By the end of the round, blood was flowing down Vences’ face, but he shook it off and his cutman was able to keep the wound closed.
Sanchez stops Dos Santos with body shot
Featherweight Jason Sanchez (15-1, 8 KOs), of Albuquerque, New Mexico, knocked out Adeilson Dos Santos (19-7, 15 KOs), of Brazil, in a fight between former world title challengers.
Sanchez was fighting for the first time since losing a unanimous decision to Oscar Valdez, whom he unsuccessfully challenged for a featherweight world title on June 8, and had no problems in his ring return.
Sanchez, 24, controlled the bout and in the fourth round landed a wicked left hook to the body to drop Dos Santos, 28, to his knees with 30 seconds left in the round. Dos Santos barely beat the count and was down again moments later from another left to the body. The second time Dos Santos went down, he stayed down as referee Jay Nady counted him out at 2 minutes, 59 seconds. Dos Santos lost his fourth fight in a row.
Anderson easily knocks out Infante
Jared Anderson, the No. 1 amateur heavyweight in the United States, signed a multiyear promotional contract with Top Rank in late September. He made his professional debut on Saturday and barely broke a sweat.
The 6-foot-4, 233-pound Anderson (1-0, 1 KO), 19, of Toledo, Ohio, needed only 54 seconds to knock out the 5-11, 232-pound Infante (1-3, 0 KOs), 31, of Youngstown, Ohio.
Anderson took it right to Infante. He landed many shots, including a powerful jab. Eventually, Anderson cornered Infante and dropped him with digging left hook to the body. Infante was on one knee as he took the full count from referee Robert Hoyle.
Anderson, a 2017 and 2018 U.S. amateur national champion, would have been a favorite to earn a berth on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team, but elected to turn pro instead.
“I felt great in my pro debut,” Anderson said. “I took control of the fight and dominated my opponent with my jab right from the very first bell. I got him with a solid body shot and he went down for the count, but if he had gotten back up, I was going to take him out of there anyway.”