Alonzo shows in win he's learning the ropes
By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer
TAMPA -- Weaknesses were exposed, limits pushed, but Jose Alonzo got what he wanted.
"I still got that "0'," the Spring Hill super-middleweight boxer, drenched in sweat in his locker room, said of his undefeated record after earning a desperate unanimous decision over Albert Albaladejo at the A La Carte Pavilion Event Center on Friday night.
"I won't lie," said Alonzo, 25. "I have no excuses. I won't make any. All this is going to do is push me harder. But my heart and my will and my support was tremendous."
In the end, Alonzo needed it all, but it did not seem so early in the bout. He nearly knocked out the pesky Albaladejo in the first two rounds, flooring him in the first 30 seconds, and was devastating with his left cross.
Alonzo appeared to expend so much energy trying that he struggled to survive Round 3 and 4, however, and reaching six rounds for the first time in his three-year professional career seemed in doubt.
"I wasn't tired, (but) I guess I overdid it in the first two rounds," Alonzo said. "I need to relax like I do in the gym when I'm sparring."
Alonzo found something in the fifth, using his jab to score early points then holding on to win the closest -- and ultimately the decisive -- round. Heartened, he won the sixth using an early flurry and scored a 57-56, 58-55, 58-55 decision.
"He proved to me if he is well-trained, he can make it," trainer Don Kahn said. "He has a strong punch. He's young. But he has to learn to handle himself in the ring. He's still a beginner."
Fighting in the main event, Alonzo drew a large Spring Hill crowd that chanted loudly his nickname, "Chelo."
The decision made a scheduling gamble worthwhile for a fighter with five quick knockouts in his first eight bouts. Albaladejo, 8-3-2 with 6 KOs, pressed Alonzo with his savvy style, just as Kahn had anticipated.
"I told (Alonzo) to take the fight because I want to see what he's got," Kahn said. "It's good this happened now and not later.
"When a fighter gets used to knocking everybody out, in his mind they think everybody they hit is going to go," Kahn said. "So they have to learn that sometimes you are going to hit guys and they aren't going to go."
Alonzo overcame several factors in improving to 9-0.
Albaladejo, not Alonzo's original opponent, proved tough and fit. Kahn blamed Alonzo's fitness deficit on a lack of proper conditioning by former trainer Pete Fernandez.
Then there was Albaladejo's trainer. Long-time Tampa trainer Angel Rosa, who handled Alonzo for a year, took the assignment in Albaladejo's corner shortly before the fight, and was able to impart a well-researched game plan.
Rosa, claiming Albaladejo deserved the decision, thinks more weakness than potential was exposed in Alonzo.
"He's a one-punch fighter," Rosa said, "which he proved in the first round. My guy had the endurance. He could take a shot and still come back and give it.
"For (Alonzo), he has to work on boxing more and endurance. Every body shot he was taking, he was leaning and holding. We didn't do that. To win a fight leaning, wow, that's remarkable."
Still, Rosa's presence motivated Alonzo to stay on his feet through the perilous middle rounds.
"I was glad that I beat Angel," Alonzo said. "You knew he was going to try to beat me, but I wasn't going to let that corner beat me."
To assure the next, as-yet-undetermined, foe does not either, Kahn has taken Alonzo with him to "camp" -- a Hollywood center where Kahn is training WBA super-middleweight title contender Santiago Samaniego for an Aug. 10 fight against Mamadou Thiam in Marseille, France.
"We're going to work on everything: skill, endurance, teach (Alonzo) how to run," Kahn said. "Now he's not a four-round fighter anymore.
"When you're increasing rounds, you have to learn how to run, how to work on the ropes, how to work in the middle of the ring."
-- Staff writer Brant James can be reached at (800) 333-7505, ext. 1407. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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