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Han lights up Haskins while Felix falls in Top Rank Boxing night

Gaby Velasquez

Top Rank Boxing brought the dynamic duo, of the Mexican star Jose Felix, Jr. and World Champion Jennifer Han, to the Don Haskins Center on Friday night. However, only one of the boxers came out victorious.

The main event, which was the only nationally televised fight of the night, was between the rising star from Los Mochis, Mexico, Felix Jr. and the underdog Jonathan Maicelo.

Felix, Jr (35-2-1) came into the matchup having won his last eight matchups and a chance at a title fight that he has been itching to receive for some time now if he were to come out on top against Maicelo. But Maicelo handled WBO’s No. 3 ranked boxer in the world, Felix, Jr. with ease it seemed like for the whole ten round bout with the unanimous victory at the end of the night.

Although it was Felix that came in with the reputation of knocking his opponents around with his 27 career knockouts, it was Maicelo that was doing the bullying in El Paso. From the opening round, Maicelo made a statement by dropping the 24-year old Mexican fighter to the ground.

Maicelo was not satisfied yet; he forced Felix to the ground a total of five times. Felix fell in rounds one, three, five (twice) and in the ninth. By the time Felix did his best efforts to try to win over the judges, it was too late, as he started gaining ground in the eighth round but the only way he could complete the comeback was from a knockout, which never happened.

In the shocking upset, Felix possibly could have lost a chance at the Lightweight title match he has had his eyes on.

Han successfully defended her crown for her third straight fight since she snatched it in September, 2014. With a chip on her shoulder from her fight not earning the recognition that the Felix-Maicelo did, Han responded accordingly and handled her matchup with Olivia Gerula, winning 100-89 on all of the judge’s scorecards.

“I’m truly blessed to have such a great team and like I said, Lester promised me a big fight, so stick around and see what’s in store,” Han said. “It’s special. The crowd was awesome tonight. The crowd really came out to support me and I hope I made them proud.”

The Irvin High School alum won her sixth straight brawl and answered “make-or-break” comments about this fight with flying colors. Han knew if she were to lose her chance at making the big screen would be shot. Han overcame a former World Champion of her own against Gerula, who was participating in her ninth title match, on Feb. 17.

“I was worried because this was my title defense, but I came out and did what I supposed to do, and I did my work so I had nothing to worry about in the end. It was a successful defense from me, and it is what it is now.” Han said.

“Jenny; Jenny; Jenny” was echoed all around the Don Haskins Center as the World Champion made her way to the ring. And, the chants never seemed to stop. Gerula not only had to deal with Han, but with the crowd that follows the hometown favorite everywhere she goes.

Even though Han only has one career knockout, she geared up her best hit on a counter that made Gerula fly to the ground in the final seconds of the fifth round. From there on, Han was in complete control and never flinched from the haymakers the Canadian-boxer was throwing hoping to connect for a come for behind victory.

Every jam that Gerula got Han in on the ropes, Han slipped her way out from every single attempt and jammed the Gerula’s game plan each time. When Gerula would get a punch to land, it appeared with more power than any of Han’s hits, but not enough were landed from the girl in the red and white trunks.

“I already knew that she (Gerula) was strong and that she was going to come with those big hands of hers. She fought exactly how her style is, but Louie (Han’s manager) gave me the best boxing strategies,” Han said.

In the eighth round, Han had her defining moment of her third title defense, when she trapped Gerula against the ropes and hit her with a number of punches that got left the seats empty from the crowd due to everyone on their feet, anticipating the knockout blow.

For the first time since owning the World Championship, Han knew who were opponent was going to a month ahead of time, compared to getting notified who she will be fighting just days before. And all her work payed off as she stole the show and the hearts of El Paso.

“I’m so blessed to fight in front of the Don Haskins Center. And bigger things are coming for me,” Han said.

The night consisted of four undercard contests before the two main events jotted out in the spotlight.

Las Cruces’ Augustine Banegas (10-0) defeated Alexandro Moreno (24-27-3) in the first fight of the Top Rank event.

After, Jesse Garcia (6-0) took care of business against Jeremy Longoria (8-7) in a split decision.

In the third brawl, the Brazilian standout Esquiva Falcao (17-0) showed why he is undefeated and a force to recon with as he added another victory to his impressive resume after the unanimous decision against Jaime Barboza (18-11-1).

Finally, Arturo Marquez, Jr. (6-0) handed his opponent Ja’Mykle Wade (2-1-1) his first career loss, with all the judges in favor of the kid from Houston.

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Gaby Velasquez, Photo editor
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Han lights up Haskins while Felix falls in Top Rank Boxing night