Azumah Nelson's infuriating nonchalance won him few fans, who mostly belonged to house fighter Marcos Villasana anyway, but still allowed him the decision Saturday night at the Olympic Auditorium.
It was the second time the two fighters had met for Nelson's World Boxing Council featherweight championship. This was far easier than the first for Nelson; there probably won't be a third.
Nelson, of Ghana, scored no knockdowns and did not appear to hurt the top-ranked challenger, of Acapulco. However, he went through the entire 12 rounds with an athletic ease that frustrated both Villasana and a full house of his fans. Nelson, 125 1/2, had Villasana, 126, chasing and missing. Villasana, obviously frustrated, simply could not land on the champion.
For Nelson, this was his fifth title defense since winning the championship from Wilfredo Gomez in 1984. All his title fights have been in foreign lands but none more hostile than this.
The largely Mexican-American crowd came prepared to boost their fighter, who has often fought at the Olympic. There were sombreros being tossed in the crowd, and the first round did not end before the fans began chanting "May-hee-co."
Nelson, 29, did not do much to sway the crowd his way as he performed boldly and flamboyantly. In fact, he showed off his bolo punch by the second round.
The two went back and forth through much of the fight, with Villasana's only important blows being low. Villasana (32-6-1) incurred penalty points in the fifth and 11th rounds. Those were the only punches that Nelson (26-1) seemed to have trouble shaking off.
Although Nelson was clearly the better fighter, he refused to mix it up as Villasana sometimes demanded. Instead, he performed a Muhammad Ali routine and by the 12th round was simply showing off, not really fighting. He was flinging backhand jabs and jabbing off one foot, and the hurt in Villasana's face was apparent as he kept motioning Nelson in.
The judges may not have liked this performance any more than the fans, although they all awarded Nelson an easy decision. Rudy Ortega scored it 117-110, Harry Gibbs 177-111 and Chuck Hassatt 118-108. This was in contrast to last year's fight, in which Nelson managed only a majority decision. But then that was a better fight.
By fight's end Saturday night, even the Olympic fans were reconciled to the defeat of their fighter. After the announcement of the decision, in fact, the crowd seemed dispirited. Only one cup of beer was thrown into the ring.
Alex Garcia remained undefeated with a six-round decision over Dwayne Bonds. However, few in the sold-out crowd saw it. During the last three rounds, attention was mainly devoted to efforts being made to put down a mini-riot on the arena floor.