The little voice in Mario Barrios’ head kept whispering to be patient, stay back, don’t lean. His eyes intently focused, working out of a slight crouch, Barrios whittled down a very tough Naim Nelson. Barrios remained unbeaten in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions show on Fox Sports 1, Tuesday night in Bethlehem, Pa.
Barrios (20-0, 12 KO) notched his fourth straight stoppage with a seventh-round TKO over a very game Nelson (13-4, 1 KO).
“Nelson was tough and we knew that coming in here,” said Barrios, who was working with trainer Virgil Hunter for the fourth time. “I was going to execute my game plan, I wanted to put on a more entertaining show, but I still came out with the victory. That’s all that matters. He moved a lot. I think I learned I can deal with different looks, which is what I’ll need in order to go on to those big fights.”
With 53 seconds left the third round, referee Gary Rosato stopped the fight momentarily after Nelson landed a left, dislocating his left shoulder. The ringside doctor checked out the shoulder and deemed it okay to continue. Until then, Nelson had caused Barrios some trouble with his counter punching and movement.
Each time Nelson threw a left from that point on, he winced and visibly bit hard on his mouthpiece. Still, Barrios remained calculating and careful.
In the fifth, Barrios opened up more, stalking Nelson. A Barrios straight right to the face midway through the round had Nelson reeling slightly backward.
The end arrived in the seventh, when a Barrios left hook caught Nelson in his left shoulder. It forced Nelson down again and was enough Rosato to wisely call it over midway through the round.
“I think I did surprise myself with how patient I was,” Barrios said. “A fight like this can grow frustrating with only a few punches thrown per round. But I concentrated on sticking and pulling. I couldn’t start getting wild. Staying composed was very important in this fight.”
“ I think I learned I can deal with different looks, which is what I’ll need in order to go on to those big fights. ” Mario Barrios
In the co-main event, Thomas Velasquez and southpaw Tyrome Jones fought to a six-round draw in a 130-lb. match. Velasquez (9-0-1, 5 KO) chose to attack the body, though there were times Jones (4-2, 1 KO) caught Velasquez lunging and made him pay with counter right hooks.
“I had to use the jab in this fight and my double-jab and body shots were working well,” Velasquez said. “This was a great learning fight and I felt that I won.”
The 21-year-old Velasquez, with his mentor, former world champ Danny Garcia, seated ringside, won the early portion of the fight, while Jones came on in the last three rounds. His counters kept cleaving Velasquez’s defense, enough for judge John McKaie’s scorecard to have Jones a 59-55 winner, which was opposed by judge John Porturaj’s 59-55 score for Velasquez and judge James Kinney’s 57-57 tie.
“This was a tough fight against an undefeated guy who came in confident, I countered very well and I got to him,” Jones said. “I know I won the fight, but he is in his hometown. That’s what happens sometimes in boxing.”
In the TV opener, cruiserweight Earl Newman, coming off over a year’s sabbatical from the ring due to injury and fights falling out, fought to a draw with 32-year-old Paul Parker in an eight-round bout. Newman (10-0-1, 7 KOs) received a battle from Parker, who had some good moments in the first few rounds when he stung Newman with wide rights.
“After a year off, I felt rusty,” Newman said. “I saw the punches, but I did not react as well as I wanted to. That being said, I kept pressuring and landed more to the body. I felt I won the fight. Now it is back to the drawing board. I can’t be inactive for a long time.”
With roughly 15 seconds left in the fifth, Newman (10-0-1, 7 KO) caught Parker (8-2-1, 4 KO) with a right on the jaw that seemed to jolt the older fighter. Parker suddenly lost his legs and hung on to Newman to finish the round. But in the sixth, Parker found his balance, and scratched his way back into contention.
In the end, judge James Kinney had it 79-73 for Newman, judge Kevin Morgan scored it 77-75 for Parker, and McKaie had it an even 76-76.
“He is a great fighter,” Parker said. “I listened to my corner and followed the game plan. He caught me with some good punches, but I landed the cleaner shots. I wobbled him and I was busier. I won the fight, but I know the business. He has the promoter, and I am sure I had to knock him down at least because of that I want a rematch.”