The Stroh’s boxing tournament at the Forum is used by some fighters to get in work in a comeback attempt, or simply to win some prize money and move up in the rankings.
In Monday night’s bantamweight semifinal, Jesus Salud, 22, of Hawaii won a 10-round split decision over Kenny Mitchell, 25, of Pensacola, Fla., to remain undefeated and diminish Mitchell’s dream of moving up.
The fight, before 4,190 fans, was scored 96-94 Mitchell, 97-93 Salud and 97-92 Salud.
Both boxers, sensing a close fight, went all out in the final round. But Salud (20-0) landed the more telling punches. “I thought I had it won, but I just wanted to go all out,” he said.
In the opening rounds, however, Salud took it easy, connecting sporadically with hard blows to the head. But Mitchell (15-6-2) made it apparent he wasn’t going to let Salud intimidate him.
Mitchell, 117 3/4, came at Salud continually, often walking right through the stronger Salud’s defenses to land several sweeping punches of his own.
Salud, 118, had trouble figuring Mitchell out, but managed to land an occasional left hook.
“He was real awkward,” Salud said. “Every time he came in and I wanted to throw a punch, he ducked to the side and I had trouble landing.”
Mitchell came on strong in the fourth and fifth rounds, rocking Salud in the fourth with two left hooks, while Salud missed and looked confused.
In the fifth round, Salud was cut above the left eye by an unintentional head butt, but he was allowed to continue.
Then, in the sixth round, Mitchell had a point taken away for butting, and it looked as though it might make a difference in the outcome.
Salud was able to use his power to counter Mitchell’s aggressive tactics to win the final four rounds, though not by a large margin.
The heavyweight tournament also began Monday.
In the first bout, a lackluster Stan Ward (20-7), ranked second in California, was knocked out at 2:58 of the second round by Larry Alexander (29-11), in what was seen as a big upset.
Later, Rufus Hadley (11-1) won on a TKO over Donnie Long (16-5) when Long suffered a cut over the right eyebrow and was unable to come out for the fifth round.