Harvey Park avoided a possible disqualification on his way to a controversial technical knockout of Jaleel Willis in the Legacy Fighting Alliance 58 main event on Friday at the Route 66 Casino Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
As the two lightweights were getting warmed up, Park (11-2) landed a left to the body and sent an off-balance Willis to the canvas. However, with Willis down on his knees and trying to get up, “Fightbot” connected with what appeared to be a glancing knee to the head. Referee Joe Coca did not intervene and allowed Park to rain subsequent punches until it was over.
A woozy Willis (9-2) protested, but the outcome was not changed. Replays showed the knee glanced off his shoulder and head, paving the way for the TKO at 3:17 of the first round.
Meanwhile, Joby Sanchez was on a two-fight losing streak, but those setbacks occurred inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In the LFA 58 co-headliner, Sanchez turned around his fortunes by dominating fellow flyweight Demetrius Wilson across three rounds. Sanchez (12-4) controlled the fight by landing the better overall strikes, scoring takedowns and roughing up “Coco” on the ground. Wilson (5-3) was never in danger of being stopped, but he was never allowed to get going, either. In the end, Sanchez won a unanimous decision via tallies of 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.
Lightweight prospect Fernando Padilla looked strong in vanquishing veteran Donald Sanchez, but his win was not without some controversy. After taking the Albuquerque fighter off of his feet with a pair of leg kicks, Padilla (11-3) swarmed him with punches. Despite the fact that Sanchez (31-19) was fishing for a leg lock while getting punched, referee Coca did not feel he was intelligently defending himself and called for the stoppage. Sanchez vehemently protested, but the end came at 1:27 of the second round.
Luiz Antonio Lobo Gavinho (9-4) wasted little time in keeping his perfect finishing rate intact, as he flattened Vince Fricilone in just 40 seconds. The two featherweights were feeling each other out when the Brazilian unfurled one of the more brutal knee-to-face knockouts in recent memory. Once his knee detonated on the Alaskan’s face, the fight was over. Fricilone (8-2) fell to his back, stiff as a board.
Former pro surfer Flavian Pilgrim leveled Sherwin Price with a single punch, delivering the first stoppage of the event. The Albuquerque rivals squared up and started throwing punches, but the perfect timing of “The Popolonesian” prevailed. A right hand smashed into Price’s jaw, sending him to the canvas out cold and flat on his back. Before Coca could intervene, Pilgrim (4-0) landed a hammerfist for good measure. The end came just 50 seconds into Round 1. Price fell to 5-2.
Welterweight Maicon Mendonca (7-4) had lost three straight coming into his battle with Joshua Moreno, but the Brazilian fought through early adversity to pull out a unanimous decision. Moreno (4-1) rocked Mendonca early with punches to the head, but the tide turned moments later. The two let everything fly inside the cage, but Mendonca turned up the heat in the closing moments of the third round and nearly knocked out the Albuquerque fighter with a maelstrom of punches. In the end, Mendonca won the judges’ verdict: 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Featherweight prospect Natan Levy used superior striking and a stout clinch game to prevail against Henry Barahona (2-2). Levy (3-0) had to fight hard for the win, but he nabbed the judges’ scorecards, drawing 29-28 marks across the board.