Duke Ragan ended a career-long layoff and had to survive his first knockdown to preserve his unbeaten record.
The 2020 Olympic Silver medalist was dropped in the fifth round but came on strong down the stretch to eke out an eight-round split decision over Jose Perez. Scores were 76-75 on all three cards, one for Perez and the other two for Ragan as part of an ESPN+ preliminary stream Saturday at Fort Bend Epicenter in Rosenberg, Texas.
The featherweight bout saw Ragan make his way to the ring for the first time since last October 29, as an injury kept him out of the ring for nearly a year. The first few rounds saw the Cincinnati native box in accordance with someone who has just one knockout as a pro.
California’s Perez (11-2-2, 5KOs) turned the tide in a big way in round five. A left hook behind Ragan’s textbook defense produced the bout’s lone knockdown. Ragan bought himself time when his mouthpiece became dislodged and his corner took its time to rinse and reinsert. Perez enjoyed continued success in round six but was buzzed by a right hand just before the bell.
A clash of heads left Perez with a cut outside his right eyelid. Ragan (9-0, 1KO) stepped up his activity and commitment to power punches in the final two rounds to eke out the win.
Giovanni Marquez made quick work of Donte Strayhorn, to the delight of his hometown fans. The second-generation boxer from nearby Houston earned a second stoppage in their ESPN+-aired junior welterweight bout to remain unbeaten as a pro.
The 22-year-old prospect boxed with poise and perfectly set up his explosive finish. Strayhorn (12-5-1, 5KOs) was pinned along the ropes before he was forced to the canvas courtesy of a right uppercut. Marquez (7-0, 5KOs) sent him to the canvas for a second attack before a subsequent attack to force the stoppage at 2:44 of round two.
Marquez’s father Raul was a former IBF junior middleweight titlist and current Showtime analyst, who also works his corner.
Kelvin Davis had to fend off a determined Narciso Carmona to preserve his unbeaten record with an eight-round, unanimous decision victory. Scores were 80-72, 79-73 and 77-75 for Davis, the older brother of 2020 Olympic Silver medalist Keyshawn Davis who faces Nahir Albright on the ESPN portion of Saturday’s show.
Davis (10-0, 6KOs) hurt Carmona with a right uppercut in round three but otherwise boxed from the outside and failed to provide anything to keep his opponent at bay. Spain’s Carmona (11-2-1, 6KOs) came on strong in the later rounds but the fight was too far out of reach by that point.
The career slide continued for Humberto Galindo. A loss was avoided by the Tijuana native but he still had to settle for an eight-round, majority draw versus Chile’s Oscar Bravo. Ellis Johnson (76-74) scored the bout for Galindo. Robert Hoyle (75-75) and David Sutherland (75-75) scored five rounds apiece for Bravo, who suffered two point deductions to fall just short of an upset win.
Bravo was deducted one point each in round three for low blows and the fourth for excessive holding. It nullified a strong second half surge for the visiting Chilean, as Galindo (14-3-2, 11KOs) slowed down the stretch.
All four career blemishes for Galindo have come in his last five starts. Bravo is winless in his last three fights but earned another payday with his strong showing. A pink slip is likely in Galindo’s future, unless he is willing to settle for life on the B-side.
Alan Garcia went the six-round distance for the first time but claimed a shutout decision victory over Nelson Hampton (10-8, 6KOs). Scores were 60-54 on all three scorecards for Kansas’ Garcia, a training stablemate of three-division and reigning IBF/WBO strawweight titlist Yokasta Valle.
Opening the ESPN+ stream, Uzbekistan’s Jakhongir Zokirov enjoyed a successful pro debut with a fourth-round stoppage of Mexico’s Guillermo Del Rio (4-5-1, 2KOs). Zokirov (1-0, 1KOs)—trained by Joel Diaz and managed by Vadim Kornilov—scored two knockdowns on the night. The latter forced an immediate stoppage at 0:39 of round four in their heavyweight bout.
Headlining the main show, Kazakhstan’s Janibek Alimkhanuly (14-0, 9KOs) meets Germany’s Vincenzo Guatleiri in a WBO/IBF middleweight unification bout.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox