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BOXING

Ocegueda Wins Unpopular Split Decision Over Cruz

March 27, 1998|DAVE McKIBBEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

IRVINE — Junior welterweight Jaime Ocegueda of Westminster won an unpopular 10-round split decision over Jose Luis Cruz of El Cajon before a record crowd of 1,385 at the Irvine Marriott Thursday night.

Ocegueda (18-2-4) was a big favorite, but he had the fight taken to him by Cruz (7-4-3) in the early rounds. Cruz landed several solid four- and five-punch combinations to Ocegueda's chin and won the first three rounds easily.

But the fight turned in the fifth round when referee Jose Cobian took two points away from Cruz for holding and hitting, and for a low blow. Cruz was not warned for either violation, but wound up losing the round, 10-7. In the sixth round, Ocegueda had a point taken away for holding, though he had been warned earlier in the bout.

Cruz tired in the seventh, eighth and ninth rounds, but won the last round on all three scorecards. It wasn't enough as Ocegueda won, 94-93, on Pat Russell's and Fritz Werner's scorecards. Chuck Hassett had Cruz winning, 96-91. After Danny Valdivia announced the decision, the standing-room only crowd booed loudly.

The crowd felt much differently about the winner of the semi-main event, Huntington Beach light heavyweight Julio Gonzalez, who took a unanimous decision from a stubborn Jude Agu of Lagos, Nigeria. The second the final bell rang, the ring was showered with dollar bills.

Gonzalez (9-0) was impressive in the early rounds as he outboxed the defensive-minded Agu. But he tired in the fifth and sixth rounds as the bulkier Agu began to lean on Gonzalez.

"I thought I was in pretty good shape, but obviously I'm not," Gonzalez said. "I have to work on that."

Gonzalez can take comfort in the fact that he's becoming a more well-rounded boxer and not simply a puncher. He outsmarted Agu and didn't start slugging with him until the last round.

"He's a tough fighter," Gonzalez said. "I was feeling him out until I found out what he had. Then I started throwing some body punches to open it up."

Gonzalez said he was surprised to see all the dollar bills in the ring.

"It's a great feeling," he said. "It makes you feel like they got their money's worth."

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