Rocco Santomauro was talking knockout before getting into the ring Saturday with Daniel Quevedo at the Tropicana, and the junior featherweight from Las Vegas did his best to deliver.
But try as he might, he couldn’t take Quevedo out and had to settle for an eight-round unanimous decision to improve to 12-0. He won by scores of 78-69, 78-69 and 77-70.
“I’m disappointed, and my team is disappointed,” Santomauro said. “I thought the jab was real good, but there were some distractions during the fight.”
He was referring to problems with his mouthpiece. Santomauro couldn’t keep it planted in his mouth, and he had points deducted twice because of it.
“I lost my regular mouthpiece a week ago, and this one didn’t fit properly. The top part kept slipping out of my mouth,” Santomauro said. “It sounds like I’m making excuses, but that’s what happened.”
Santomauro knocked down Quevedo twice during the first round and almost dropped him a third time. He came out swinging, landing a short right hand to Quevedo’s chin and sending him to the canvas 14 seconds into the fight.
Later in the round, Santomauro landed a left to the kidney that had Quevedo wincing as he took a knee for a second knockdown. Seconds later, Santomauro landed a hard right to the chin, but Quevedo stayed on his feet.
And while Santomauro was dominating, he also was showboating in the ring. During the fifth round, he wound up his right hand to bolo punch Quevedo but never threw it. Later in the round, he pirouetted around the ring as Quevedo (13-15-3) waved to him to stand and fight as the crowd booed.
By the sixth round, referee Robert Byrd had enough of Santomauro’s antics after his mouthpiece came out for the second time, and he deducted a point. It was more of the same in the seventh round, as the mouthpiece came flying out for a third time and another point was deducted.
And while Byrd had no idea of Santomauro’s equipment issues, the fighter didn’t blame the referee.
“I don’t blame Robert Byrd. He was just doing his job,” Santomauro said.
Fortunately for Santomauro, he was winning the rounds and the deductions didn’t cost him. But his ring decorum is something he and trainer Pops Anderson will need to address as the competition gets stiffer.
“I don’t know why he did what he did,” Anderson said. “He fought a great fight, and then he goes and acts silly. I’m pissed off about it.
“I told him to stay focused. But we’ll get it together.”
Also on the undercard, Jesus Gutierrez stopped fellow Las Vegan Pablo Becerra at 1:08 of the first round of their six-round junior lightweight bout after landing two punishing right hooks to the head. Gutierrez improved to 12-0, and Becerra dropped to 7-5.
Middleweight Sergio Mora continued his quest for another world title shot, scoring a fifth-round technical knockout of Samuel Rogers. Mora (26-3-2) knocked down Rogers (14-2) in the first round and again in the fifth and had him defenseless on the ropes when referee Russell Mora stopped the fight at 2:55.