Diego Magdaleno’s game plan in his first world championship fight was simple: use his boxing skills and avoid getting hit by one big shot.
But the 26-year-old Las Vegan couldn’t elude Roman “Rocky” Martinez’s right hand, and his skills were not good enough to become a world champion.
Magdaleno was knocked down in the fourth round and lost a 12-round split decision to Martinez, the WBO super featherweight champion, on Saturday at Cotai Arena in Macau.
Judges Levi Martinez of New Mexico and Michael Pernick of Florida scored the fight 115-112 and 114-113 for Martinez (27-1-2). Las Vegas judge Robert Hoyle scored it 116-111 for Magdaleno, who suffered the first loss of his seven-year professional career, falling to 23-1.
“I felt I outsmarted him throughout the fight and won it.” Magdaleno said. “It’s disappointing to have the decision go against me.”
Magdaleno’s trainer, Pat Barry, said: “I thought Diego won it a solid eight rounds to four. His movement was great. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from him.”
The knockdown probably cost Magdaleno the fight. He had controlled the action in the first three rounds, outboxing Martinez and hurting him with a solid right to the chin late in the third. But Magdaleno got too close to the champion in the fourth and walked into a big right hand that sent him to the canvas 44 seconds into the round.
It was the first time Magdaleno had been knocked down since July 15, 2011, when Alejandro Perez dropped him in the first round at Texas Station.
Magdaleno rallied to win that fight. On Saturday, he couldn’t hurt Martinez, though Magdaleno appeared to have him in trouble in the ninth when he unleashed a barrage that backed Martinez onto the ropes.
“I was beating him on the outside, catching him with the more effective shots,” Magdaleno said.
It was the first time Magdaleno had fought beyond 10 rounds as a pro, and he finished the fight active and on his feet. But Martinez was too strong and experienced, calmly keeping Magdaleno at bay and successfully defending his title for the second time since winning it against Miguel Beltran Jr. on Sept. 15 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“It was a tough fight, which I expected,” Martinez said. “Diego is a legitimate No. 1 contender who was worthy of the title shot. But I felt I was more aggressive throughout the fight, while he tried to stay away and box me. I think the difference was the pressure I put on him.”
The fight was part of Top Rank’s first card in China. In the main event, former Chinese Olympic champion Zou Shiming won his pro debut as a flyweight with a four-round unanimous decision over Eleazar Valenzuela. All three judges scored the fight 40-36.
Also, Juan Francisco Estrada won a 12-round split decision over Brian Viloria to capture the WBA and WBO flyweight titles. Estrada was leading 117-111 and 116-111 on two cards and trailing 115-113 on the third.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.