Fighting at home for the first time in 18 years, future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez added a world title belt in his fourth weight class Saturday night with a unanimous decision against Sergey Fedchenko.
The 12-round WBO junior welterweight title bout was televised on HBO Pay-Per-View and drew a crowd of more than 30,000 at Mexico City Arena.
Marquez, who previously won world titles at featherweight, junior lightweight and lightweight, and is best known for his three closely-contested fights against Manny Pacquiao, was fighting for the first time since his third tough loss to Pacquiao in November.
With a goal of building leverage for a possible fourth fight against Pacquiao, Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs) wanted to look spectacular against Fedchenko (30-2, 13 KOs) but settled for being accurate and clearly superior to the Ukrainian.
Taking their cue from Marquez's aggressiveness and his ability to score with uppercuts and combinations, all three judges scored the fight in his favor 119-109, 118-110, 118-110, with only one judge giving Fedchenko only one round
The fight was the second of an HBO Pay-Per-View double feature that began with unbeaten Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios (30-0-1, 22 KOs) winning a split decision against Cuba's Richard Abril (17-3-1, eight KOs) in a WBA lightweight title bout from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
As a replacement opponent, Abril looked the part of a confident substitute teacher in taking Rios to school. Unfortunately for Abril, his performance went unrewarded as Rios escaped with a victory that, at best, could be described as controversial.
Abril, who stepped in to face Rios after Cuban undefeated featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa pulled out of the fight, appeared to dominate the scheduled 12-round bout, using a long and stiff left jab, combinations and an air-tight defense.
Rios, from Oxnard, Calif., was unable to get off the power shots that earned his reputation as one of the sport's rising young stars. But, despite Abril's dominance, only judge Adelaide Byrd scored the fight in his favor, 117-111, while Jerry Roth 116-112 and Glenn Trowbridge 115-113 gave the fight to Rios.
Even before he stepped in the ring, Rios sustained a setback when he failed to make weight -- coming in at 137 pounds, two over the lightweight limit - and effectively eliminated any chance of him winning the crown. It was the second time in a row that Rios failed to make weight in a 135-pound title bout, but the victory nonetheless kept alive his hopes of gaining a title fight against Marquez this summer at 140 pounds.
Likewise, Fedchenko's ability to go the distance against Marquez should keep him in the mix for more big fights in his future.