SALT LAKE CITY — Wearing a Native American headdress and a glittering red jacket, Chris "Kid Kayo" Fernandez made his way into the ring hoping to do what no Utah boxer has done in more than three decades — defend his world championship.
After a fairly even and uneventful first round, Fernandez pummeled Allen "The American Boy" Litzau hitting him with vicious body shots and violent head shots that sent the Minnesota boxer to the ground three times in the fourth round. Fernandez seemed to bounce back in the fifth round, but he didn't come out for the sixth round, ending the battle in a technical knockout for Fernandez. The Utah native who won his WBU World Championship in May will hold onto that title after the hard-fought victory.
With blood from his left eyebrow dripping down his face, he climbed on the ropes and screamed to fans who were on their feet celebrating the victory.
Utah's first world champion, Gene Fullmer, sat just 20 yards from Fernandez corner with his brother Jay Fullmer. Utah hasn't had a world champion boxing event since Danny "Little Red" Lopez defended his title in 1978.
Despite losing to Fernandez, Litzau taunted the champ as he prepared for the decision to be announced to a raucous crowd.
"I thought you said three," Litzau yelled at Fernandez, taunting him about his prediction on Friday that he would knock out the younger boxer in three rounds. Litzau drew boos from the crowd when he said he wanted to come out in the sixth round but his corner called the fight on his behalf.
"We can do this again," he told the angry crowd. "He told me we'd only go three rounds, but we went six."
There were seven other fights as part of the event at South Town Expo Center in Sandy Saturday night.
With the main event approaching, much of the crowd found at the South Town Expo Center Saturday night was restless to see some exciting boxing, and they got it. Of the six undercard bouts, four coming before the championship, the welterweight match-up between out-of-staters Donald Griffin and Jason Tresvan arguably provided the most excitement, much of it coming from Griffin.
Each fighter was making his respective debut professional fight and Griffin took advantage of his opportunity. The brand-new pro out of Pinebluff, Ark., did not wait to put on a show as he wowed the crowd with big hits to Tresvan from beginning to end.
Despite being on the wrong side of Griffin's haymakers, Tresvan would not go down and hung in there all four rounds. In fact, the referee came to Tresvan's corner after the bout to tell him that "He has never seen anybody have a chin like that."
Ultimately, Griffin earned the unanimous decision as the judges scored the match 40-34, 40-36 and 40-36.
"This is the start of my career," Griffin said. "I know I can be a champion, and I am going to do everything in my ability to become a champ."
Following that match was a very close matchup between two skilled fighters, Eddie Melendrez and Jeremiah Wiggins in a featherweight bout. Through the four-round fight the match was very evenly fought, but Wiggins eked out the victory, getting the split decision from the judges. The judges scored the fight 39-37, 39-37 and 38-39 in favor of Las Vegas's Wiggins.
Despite the excitement from the two fights proceeding the championship fight, the night started slow with Salt Lake City's Willie Walton losing by TKO 2:41 into the first round to Parma, Idaho's, David Lopez in a Jr. Middleweight bout.
Following that match, Provo's David Madrid defeated Ogden's Freddie Martinez for his first professional victory. The fight was a rematch of a fight from a couple of years ago when they fought to a draw but this time around, Madrid won, getting the unanimous decision from the judges.