The first of two world titles fights on "Las Vegas II" card in Panama saw an incredibly close and thoroughly competitive bout as Nehomar Cermeno (22-5-1, 13) narrowly claimed the interim WBA Super Bantamweight title thanks to a split decision over the previously unbeaten Oscar Escandon (22-1, 15) of Colombia
The opening round was a great one for Escandon who applied constant pressure and made Cermeno look uncomfortable from the off. The intention seemed clear from the Colombian, he was going to come forward, blast the body and try to wear down Cermeno both mentally and physically.
In the second round Cermeno started to utilise his hand speed and foot work much more effectively as he slid along the ropes and landed his jabs before Escandon managed to get his punches off. It was obvious when Cermeno was letting his crisp jab go that he could neutralise the pressure of Escandon but appeared to be using up a lot of energy to try and stay from the determined Colombian.
The speed and skill of Cermeno saw him taking round 3 though Escandon managed to fight back and take round 4 thanks to a great finish to the round in which he seemed to stun Cermeno for a few seconds. Unfortunately for Escandon the shot that stunned Cermeno came too close to the bell for him to really capitalise and he was never again able to land a similar shot.
Having been stunned in round 4 Cermeno stepped up a gear and appeared to sweep many of the middle rounds as he threw more, moved more and generally made Escandon look like a slow trudging fighter. Escandon of course isn't that slow though he was unable to cut the ring off and it allowed Cermeno to look quicker than he really was.
With Cermeno taking a string of rounds it was obvious the pressure going into the final few rounds was on Escandon who appeared to take round 9 as Cermeno slowed. It seemed as if the pressure and body work of Escandon was taking it's effect on Cermeno and after a competitive round 10, one of the bouts few swing rounds, it seemed like it was all to play for in the championship rounds.
It appeared that neither man thought he'd secured the bout and they both stood their ground in the final two rounds trying to make sure they won the exchanges and the favour of the judges. It appeared that there was very little to really split them again in round 11, although Cermeno did manage to back up Escandon for one of the very few times.
With everything seemingly still in the balance going into the final round both men put it on the line though it appeared that the championship experience helped Cermeno just do enough to claim the round as he kept Escandon busy with his flick-like jab.
The close nature of the bout was reflected in the score cards with Escandon winning 116-113 on one card, though that judge was over-ruled by cards of 115-113 and 117-111 in favour of Cermeno.
I had it it 116-113 Cermeno and although 117-111 was unreflective of the bout I can genuinely see how the judge got that score.
With the victory Cermeno resurrects his career which looked all but over and although Escandon lost his unbeaten record he will have taken a lot from this bout and will almost certainly come back a better fighter.