In a tightly contested main event, Isaac Zarate (14-3-3, 2 KOs) pulled away in the second half against the very mobile Christian Ayala (12-2, 4 KOs)to win by unanimous decision (78-74, 77-75 twice) on Friday night.
Zarate, a southpaw from San Pedro, Calif., had trouble finding his range in the early rounds. Ayala smartly countered Zarate and kept him off balance. By the fourth round, however, Zarate discovered his jab and mixed in uppercuts to pull the tide in his favor.
"I was patient all night long," said Zarate, who sparred with WBA super bantamweight champion Danny Roman to prepare for this fight. "I knew he would get tired and start dropping his hands. Once he did I knew I would be able to throw the uppercuts."
Zarate battled through multiple cuts caused by accidental head butts. Zarate suffered cuts above his left eye in the fourth round and below his right eye in the eighth. Despite those setbacks, he was able to battle through and claim victory.
"I expected a tough fight," Zarate said. "I just stuck with my game plan and that was enough to get the win."
In the 6-round co-feature, Ruben Villa (10-0, 4 KOs) of Salinas, Calif. made it ten straight wins to start his career by outpointing veteran Juan Sandoval (15-18, 5 KOs) of Mexico. Scores: 59-55, 60-54 twice.
Villa, 20, capitalized on his southpaw stance by landing a strong jab and countering with a right hook that routinely found its mark. Sandoval often looked confused and never managed to find any angles against the busier Villa.
"I just tried to keep the pressure on him from start to finish," said Villa, who is co-promoted by Thompson Boxing and Banner Promotions. "I think he fought a cautious fight, but I was still able to land a lot of punches in every round."
Villa was most impressive in the fourth and fifth rounds when he delivered numerous sets of combinations that stunned the taller Sandoval. While Villa kept his unbeaten streak alive on Friday night, another, less recognizable streak ended. In his previous unanimous decision wins, Villa had won every round on every scorecard. On Friday night, one judge failed to give Villa all six rounds (59-55).
"That streak was bound to end sooner or later," Villa said. "I'll have to start another one."