IRVINE — Junior featherweight Alvaro Soto of Pico Rivera won a unanimous eight-round decision Thursday night over Rodrigo Valenzuela of Guadalajara, Mexico, before 1,082 at the Irvine Marriott.
But Soto won't soon forget Valenzuela.
With cuts over both eyes, knots on top of his head and trunks so blood-stained it was hard to tell what their original color was, Soto (10-2-1) tried to explain how he got to be such a mess.
"He got me with quite a few head-butts so I couldn't get in close like I wanted to," Soto said. "I caught him a few times and I felt I hurt him but I was afraid to come in because I was cut. All the cuts I have on my face are from head-butts."
Although Soto landed the majority of the heavy punches and won easily on all three judges scorecards, he was frustrated most of the night by Valenzuela's awkward and pesky style.
"His head-butts cut my eye and he hit me on the top of the head when I was throwing uppercuts," Soto said. "I felt kind of stupid down there throwing punches while he's hitting me on the head."
It was a comical routine except Soto didn't find much humor in it.
"He always fights like that," said Soto, who bloodied Valenzuela's nose in the first round and kept the blood flowing throughout with stiff left jabs.
Soto and Valenzuela were scheduled for the six-round semi-main event but were switched to the main event when matchmaker Jerry Bilderrain could not find an replacement opponent for Carlos Rubio.
The undercard featured two devastating knockouts. Super middleweight Fernando Zuniga of Ecuador scored his sixth first-round knockout in six fights when he landed a sweeping left hook that sent Robert Jackson (6-15) of Los Angeles flying across the ropes. Jackson made it up to his feet but the fight was stopped.
Super middleweight Nick Martinez of Bassett won his pro debut with a bizarre knockout of Santa Ana's Malcolm Brooks 44 seconds into the second round.
Martinez was wobbled badly by a right hand and then was pushed to the canvas by Brooks (1-2). He got back up, and, with his feet barely underneath him and Brooks charging, Martinez landed a clean right hand that knocked Brooks cold.