Two fighters settled a longstanding rivalry Saturday while another cagey veteran began his slow, steady climb back to the top of the rankings.
In his third bout against regional foe Agustine Mauras, Hartford, Conn., super featherweight Joseph “Chip” Perez captured the vacant New England Championship while former world-title challenger and super middleweight contendr Elvin Ayala of New Haven, Conn., won in his return to the ring following a two-year layoff.
Saturday’s pro-am event at Mohegan Sun Arena, promoted by CES Boxing, featured five amateur bouts and nine professional fights, including two title bouts. In the eight-round main event, Perez (11-3-2) finally got the best of Mauras (6-1-3), a Lawrence, Mass., native, after the two fought to a draw twice in 2013, this time utilizing a more aggressive approach while out-working and out-landing his opponent. The trilogy ended with a 79-73, 78-74, 78-74 win for Perez, easily the most lopsided of their three bouts.
On the undercard, Ayala (27-6-1) ended a layoff of more than two years with a satisfying 60-54, 59-55, 58-56 win over dangerous Philadelphia vet Aaron Mitchell (27-2-1).
A former World Boxing Council (WBC) title-holder rated among the top super middleweights in the world, Ayala hadn’t fought since suffering a first-round knockout loss to Curtis Stevens in January 2013. Having fallen out of the national spotlight, Ayala took the next two years to recover physically and mentally, making changes within his inner circle in an effort to rebuild his career for one last run at a world title.
Saturday’s win was a step in the right direction. The always-ready Mitchell, who hadn’t fought since 2008 prior to this weekend, formerly held the North American Boxing Organization (NABO) middleweight title and won 15 consecutive bouts with a stunning 14 by knockout before his brief departure from the sport more than five years ago.
In the second title bout of the evening, Portland, Maine, veteran Jorge Abiague (8-1) edged New Haven’s Josh Crespo (3-2-2) by split decision, 78-74, 75-77, 78-74 to earn the vacant N.E. Super Bantamweight championship. Abiague controlled the first two rounds with his overhand left before Crespo rocked him with a straight right hand in the closing seconds of the third. Crespo went for the kill, but Abiague survived the final few seconds and got his legs back in the fourth, where he began to dictate the pace. Abiague has now won back-to-back fights since losing to Nate Green in October.
Chinese heavyweight Zhang Zhilei (2-0, 2 KOs), a silver medalist in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, stopped Perry Filkins (0-1) of Hooksett, N.H., at the 1:10 mark of the opening round. Junior welterweight Wang Zhimin (1-0), a gold medalist at the 2011 World Series of Boxing, beat newcomer Kin Moy (0-1) of Cambridge, Mass., by unanimous decision, 40-36, 39-37, 39-36, on all three scorecards and 2012 London Olympian Meng Fanlong (1-0) defeated Washington, D.C., vet Marcellus Yates (0-2) by majority decision 40-36, 40-36, 38-38, in Fanlong’s professional debut.
Worcester, Mass., light middleweight Khiary Gray-Pitts (4-0, 2 KOs) remained unbeaten with dominant knockout win over Springfield, Ill., vet Jake Constant (0-3) courtesy of a body blow at the 1:20 mark of the opening round. Lightweight Briam Granado (1-0, 1 KO) impressed in his professional debut, stopping Theo Desjardin (0-5) of Pawtucket, R.I., at 1:18 of the opening round, knocking Desjardin to the canvas twice.
New Haven junior middleweight Jimmy Williams (8-0-1, 4 KOs) also remained unbeaten, stopping 29-fight vet Jose Felix (11-17-2) at 2:34 of the third round for his fourth consecutive win since fighting to a draw with Atlantic City’s Greg Jackson in August of 2013.
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