Former world champion Juan Carlos Payano (19-1, 9 KOs) scored an impressive decision victory over Alexis Santiago (24-5-1, 8 KOs) in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions TOE-TO-TOE TUESDAYS on FS1 and BOXEO DE CAMPEONES on FOX Deportes, Tuesday night from Sam’s Town Live in Las Vegas and presented by Mayweather Promotions.
Payano set the pace early, closing the distance with Santiago and delivering consistent flurries of punches. Santiago was unable to keep Payano from charging forward early and seemed focused on landing a big counter.
The fight was defined by its rough nature and constant fighting on the inside. This led to a cut above Payano’s left eye after round three, but his corner was able to manage it and the cut was never a problem.
“I felt like I was winning every single round,” said Payano. “There were small moments on the inside that I gave away but I think I did the better work each round.”
Santiago had moments in the fight and landed big right hands late in the fourth and fifth rounds that got Payano’s attention, but the former champion was able to throw back with high volume and regain control of the fight.
“The strategy was to wear him down and then really try to walk him down and take him out,” said Payano. “Santiago was a little too tough for his own good so I kept some distance at times and controlled the fight.”
“I felt the long layoff when I got in there,” said Santiago. “I was a little tight and I loaded up too much instead of using my speed.”
Even when Santiago was able to corner Payano, the slippery fighter was able to fight his way off the ropes and turn the tide back in his favor. After the end of 10 rounds of super bantamweight action all three judges’ saw the fight in Payano’s favor by scores of 100-90 and 99-91 twice.
“I want my titles back,” said Payano. “I don’t care who is holding which titles at 118 and 122 pounds. I’ll fight anyone and show I’m still a champion.”
“I thought the fight was a little closer,” said Santiago. “He did more work than me but I thought I had good moments. I wanted to box him a little more but I couldn’t find my range so I just tried to close down the gaps. We just have to go back to the drawing board and stay more active. I want to get a tune-up fight then get right back to fighting top guys.”
The co-main event saw once-beaten Ladarius Miller (14-1, 4 KOs) score a unanimous decision victory over 2012 U.S. Olympian Jamel Herring (16-2, 9 KOs) in their 10-round lightweight bout.
The southpaws began the fight carefully, with Miller looking to establish his jab while Herring showed great movement early and tried to catch Miller in the pocket. The exchanges picked up in round two, although both men were still primarily throwing one punch at a time.
“I know I out-jabbed him,” said Miller. “When we jabbed each other, I thought my jab was stronger than his. I gave him two different styles. There were times where I walked him down and times where I boxed him.”
Miller began to pick up the aggressiveness in round three, following up his jab with a straight left hand over the top that snapped Herring’s head. Herring continued to focus on his movement and mixed-in good body work several times to finish off exchanges.
In round five Herring began to plant himself inside and looked to counter Miller, but was unable to do enough clean work to get the attention of the judges as Miller continued to throw back with left hands and movement that occasionally frustrated Herring.
“I thought it was a close fight,” said Herring. “I thought when I came forward and pressed the fight he started retreating and moving.”
Both men squared-off in the center of the ring for the final three rounds, as each looked to deliver a shot that would seal the fight in their favor. The flurry of action led to judges’ disagreements on all three of the final action-packed rounds.
In the end it was Miller’s consistent work throughout the fight that got him the nod from all three judges by scores of 98-92 and 97-93 twice.
“I thought 97-93 was the right score,” said Miller. “I took it easy in round nine and felt him out in the first two rounds. But the rest of the fight I felt like I dominated. It’s a process. I’m just climbing the ladder right now. I want to get another test and fight more strong fighters. I want to be on the biggest stages. I’m ready for the step up.”
“I thought I landed some heavy shots in there and was more aggressive,” said Herring. “Obviously the judges saw it differently. I’ll get back with my team and see what’s next, but I did think I won the fight. I thought I won the last two rounds and pulled it out.”