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In Las Vegas, Costa Rica’s Bryan Vasquez Retains WBA Belt

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Still the champ: Tiquito Vasquez

Still the champ: Tiquito Vasquez

The first undercard fight of the long-awaited and multimillion dollar rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley featured veteran boxer Bryan “Tiquito” Vasquez of Costa Rica, who did not disappoint in his defense of the interim super welterweight title of the World Boxing Association. Tiquito won against Mexican fighter Jose Felix Jr by unanimous decision and proudly remains world champion.

Tiquito, who is married to former junior middleweight world champ Hanna Gabriel (also from Costa Rica), showed the sold-out crowd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas that his 30-plus victories, 17 by means of knockout, demand respect in his weight division.

In the first round, the young Mexican fighter came out swinging and brawling against Tiquito, who immediately had to adjust to the intensity of the fight. The first four rounds were mostly even, but once the San Jose native switched to power punches, Felix Jr completely lost his cool and fought an ugly bout. This was the first title defense match in this weight division for Vasquez, who moved to Los Angeles specifically to train for this fight.

The Costa Rican fighter received several hits below the belt and even a direct hit to the groin via his opponent’s knee. The referee was kind to the young Mexican challenger by deducting only one point. Vasquez kept his cool, sent his opponent to the mat twice, and scored enough points to earn the victory with all three favorable scorecards.

The main event did not disappoint, either. Manny Pacquiao faced a strong Timothy Bradley, who fought with far more control and poise than back in June 2012, when he controversially won by split decision and took the welterweight title from the Filipino Congressmen.

It was an exciting match: Bradley fought with heart and bravado while Pacquiao controlled the fight with great strategy during all 12 rounds. It came down to scorecards once again, but Pacquiao clearly won this rematch and deservedly regained his belt.

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