December 12, 1999
Tony Ayala Jr. won his third comeback fight tonight in San Antonio in
impressive fashion by stopping Tony Menafee at 1:21 of the 8th round.
Ayala, now 25-0 (23 KOs), dominated every round with accurate and
powerful combination punching to both body and head. He rocked
Menafee throughout, dropping him in the final stanza and continuing to
punish him until Menafeešs corner entered the ring to save their
fighter. Ayala could have ended matters much sooner, but Tony Ayala
Sr. kept encouraging his son to "get some rounds out of this guy", and
El Torito did not press the issue. Menafee, who falls to 67-7-1 (36
KOs) was game, but completely outgunned. Ayala weighed in at 161 1/2
and Menafee at 162.
Ayalašs ring presence, though as agressive as ever, has matured since
his first incarnation during the early 80s. He paces himself, slips
more punches, and his relaxed demeanor inside the ropes reminds me of
George Foremanšs second coming. His power is still fearsome, and he
proved tonight that he can carry it late in a fight. In my opinion,
this is a man who is going to be competitive with Top Ten
middleweights, and if matched against an indifferent champion such as
Keith Holmes, he might just be able to steal a belt. For certain,
anyone who attempts to stand in against him is going to absorb a good
deal of punishment.
In a shocker on the undercard, WBU Jr. Featherweight Champion Carlos
Navarro of LA, an up-and-comer mentioned as a possible challenger for
Erik Morales, was upset by Carlos Contreras out of Ciusdad Juarez.
Contreras dominated the last ten rounds to win a unanimous decision.
The judges had it 115-112, 116-111, and 117-110. CBZ scored it
118-111. After the second round, Navarro (19-1) allowed himself to be
backed against the ropes and battered by Contreras, who improves to
13-4. It may be that Navarro simply had an off-night--he certainly
did not display his usual sharpness--but all credit should be given to
the new champion, who displayed excellent handspeed and crisp
combinations. By the end of the bout, Navarrrošs left eye was badly
swollen and his right eye nearly closed.
At 19.95 this four-fight card was certainly a better bargain than the
last two heavyweight title bouts.