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Classy Salas tops Yeyo to bag Contender last-four spot

Published:Thursday | June 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMLeroy Brown/Gleaner Writer

The controversy monster reared its head in the Wray & Nephew Contender series again last Wednesday night at the Chinese Benevolent Association auditorium, when Ricardo 'Magic Man' Salas, the No. 1 rated boxer for Team Canada, scored a fifth-round technical knockout victory over Team Jamaica's Nico 'Venom' Yeyo to claim the final semi-final spot in the series.

In a closely contested bout, Salas came out with fists blazing in the final round and backed Yeyo into a neutral corner. Yeyo retreated behind a passive defence, while Salas kept throwing punches furiously. After 53 seconds, referee Owen Nelson stepped in and called the fight off.

The Salas camp reacted joyfully, as the victory gave him his ninth victory, eight inside the distance, and a place in the Contender semi-finals. Yeyo, on the other hand, was a very disappointed man, and declared: " I do not know why the referee stopped the fight. I was not hurt. I had my guard up and was blocking most of his punches. He stopped it too quickly."

Yeyo's record is now two wins and two losses.

There was a touch of irony to this victory, because when Yeyo had his first fight in the series against Canada's second-ranked boxer Myron Zeferino on April 11, that fight was stopped after only 21 seconds, when Yeyo caught Zeferino by surprise with a bruising two-fisted attack. Zeferino and his camp cried foul then, while Yeyo took the victory in stride, enjoyed it, and moved on to the quarter-finals. He was in a very different mood on Wednesday, however.




It was a hard-fought battle, but at the end of four rounds, Salas was ahead on the scorecards of all the judges. Ransford Burton and Donovan Boucher had him ahead 39-36, while referee Cliff Brown had it 38-37.

Yeyo started off aggressively, in keeping with his pledge before the fight that it would be "war, war, war." Salas kept his composure, however, and jabs and short hooks to the head from a southpaw stance gave him the round. Yeyo threw a lot of punches in the second round, but he also missed a lot, and received a caution from the referee for boring in with his head first. Salas was more patient and methodical in his approach, and after a close exchange he took a knee and held his groin, stating that he had been hit low. After a brief stoppage, he continued.

Yeyo became wild in the third round, and after cautions from the referee for pushing and then holding, he was penalised one point for holding, which was a big setback for him. Salas looked more positive in the fourth round and threw short, effective punches to the body and head to take the round. He obviously came out with a plan to end the fight in the fifth round, because he attacked immediately, backed Yeyo into a neutral corner and threw everything at him. Yeyo, unwisely, did not retaliate.

He covered his head behind closed fists and made no attempt to counter-attack, while Salas threw "punches in bunches". At the 53-second mark, referee Nelson stepped in, and called the fight off. An excited Salas raised his hands high as a sign of victory, while Yeyo protested the stoppage. Some spectators also had their say, as many declared that the stoppage was too early, and that "the man was not hurt".

The fact is, however, that Salas is into the semis and will take home one of the money prizes. The winner gets $2 million, runner-up $500, 000; third place, $250,000; and fourth place, $200,000. In the semi-finals, Jamaica's Richard Holmes will meet David Leblond, while Salas will go up against Devon Moncriffe.