It looked like it was going to end early.
Instead, Friday night’s battle for the North American Boxing Federation super bantamweight championship at Caesars Palace continued long after the final bell had sounded.
Jesus Poll knocked challenger Julian Solis down in the third round and then went on to win a close, but unanmimous 12-round decision.
But controversy arose over 2 critical points subtracted from the challenger by referee Toby Gibson, 1 in the eighth round for a low blow and 1 in the final round after Solis wrestled Poll through the ropes and then continued to hit him.
The result was a verbal confrontation in the press tent between Gibson and Solis’ trainer George Cruz that was as spirited as anything that happened in the ring.
“There were three fighters in the ring,” Cruz said, “and the referee happened to be one of them. We thought we won. It’s as simple as that. I don’t see how this referee is licensed to work in any ring. We never even got a warning.”
Responded Gibson: “The first time, on the low blow, I gave two warnings. The second time, the fighter was thrown between the ropes where he was defenseless. What followed was a blow to the shoulder and one to the head. I thought it was intentional and I called a foul for wrestling and unsportsmanlike conduct.”
Gibson’s rulings proved crucial. On 2 of the 3 judge’s score cards, Poll won by a single point. Both Dave Nelson and Paul Smith gave him the fight, 113-112. On the other card, Chuck Giampa had Poll winning 114-111.
The victory kept Poll, a Venezuelan fighting out of the Ten Goose Boxing Club of North Hollywood, unbeaten at 19-0-2. Solis, a Puerto Rican training in Connecticut, fell to 38-8-1.
It looked like Solis, 121, was going to fall in the third round. But it was Gibson who stepped in to perhaps save him.
Poll, 122, connected with a solid left, sending Solis to the canvas, Solis got up but, still disoriented, tumbled headfirst into the ropes.
Had the ropes not been there, it might have been over right there.
Had Poll stayed in the neutral corner, it also might have been over. But Gibson, looking over his shoulder, noticed Poll creeping in for the kill.
Gibson interrupted his count to instruct Poll to get back to the corner. That bought Solis a couple of precious seconds to clear his head.
“I thought the ref was done counting,” Poll later said through an interpreter. “I wanted to surprise Solis and get right back on him.”
Poll never did. He was unable to again seriously hurt Solis although he did manage to open a big cut over Solis’ left eye in the ninth round.
By the time the fight had ended, Poll’s left eye was nearly swollen shut, but there were no further knockdowns.
Poll earned $7,500 for his victory. Solis, a former World Boxing Assn. bantamweight champ, $5,000.
Poll’s manager, Dan Goossen, is now hoping to get the super bantamweight a world title fight, perhaps early next year.
A world title fight was the last thing on the mind of 18-year-old featherweight Gabriel Ruelas. But the newest fighter in the Ten Goose stable looked about impressive as one can in just his third professional fight, scoring a first-round knockout over Jaime Morales of Tijuana in 37 seconds.
Ruelas is actually slowing down.
His first fight, also here at Caesars, ended in 24 seconds. He won his second fight on a decision.
Morales fell to 4-3.