On Friday at the Fontainebleau Las Vegas, Troy Isley fought like a man who knew his professional future hung in the balance.

And it may very well have. As Isley took on Javier Martinez in a 10-round middleweight fight, ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna described a pre-fight conversation with Martinez trainer Robert Garcia, who had called the matchup “a pink-slip” fight.

For his part, Isley punched the clock and put in the kind of impressive work required to keep his career moving toward something bigger, topping the too-languid Martinez in a unanimous decision win.

Isley (13-0, 5 KOs), of Alexandria, Virginia, was the far busier fighter, which were reflected in both the punch count statistics and scorecards: 97-91 (twice), 96-92.

Martinez (10-1-1, 3 KOs), from MIlwaukee, Wisconsin, seemed to cede the early action almost immediately, allowing Isley to pressure him around the ring and put together punches. Although Martinez, a southpaw, landed a hard straight left hand to close out the second, Garcia voiced his displeasure in the corner after the round. You didn’t have to be fluent in Spanish to get the idea: “Vamos!” 

With a minute left in the third, the fighters traded borderline punches on the belt before Isley really went digging, landing a right hand on Martinez’s thigh. Referee Tony Weeks briefly stopped the action to issue warnings and reset the fighters, after which the action was cleaner – for a bit. Isley kept the heat on, but now Martinez was getting off, and landing, including a left hand he turned over on Isley’s jaw at short range just before the bell.

The fourth told the tale for Martinez. In an early stretch of the round, he clammed up in his high guard and let Isley, who at that point was winning the fight almost exclusively on activity, take the initiative. But when Martinez seemed to pick up on Isley using his pawing left as more of a rangefinder than a jab, he hummed in a few straight left hands that Isley quite likely never saw – and certainly wasn’t ready for. The round made it clear Martinez needed to begin answering Isley punch for punch.

The lesson didn’t quite land. Isley spent much of the fifth hooking to Martinez’s body when he wasn’t splitting his guard. Although Martinez would turn in good work from the outside, using his reach advantage to land 1-2 combos, he would step in and smother his punches or, worse, holster his hands again.

Weeks warned the fighters again about low blows at the end of the fifth, which may have granted a second wind to Isley, who detonated a right hand upstairs on Martinez, who shelled up, took a series of follow-up shots and walked back to his corner at the bell with his mouth bloodied.

Martinez mounted more offense in the sixth, especially when he had Isley on the ropes or prioritized whipping shots to the body. But Isley – changing levels, angles and pace – wasn’t just busier but also showed superior craft. Then in the seventh, every time Martinez threatened to turn the tide with a cultured flurry, he would pause and all but invite Isley back through the door. A point deduction from Weeks for a low blow – finally – didn’t help Martinez’s cause.

In the moments through the final rounds when Martinez showed urgency, Isley got the better of the action, slipping, countering, beating his opponent to the punch and out-thinking him, as he sent multiple uppercuts singing to Martinez’s chin whenever he bent over. Even after Isley was deducted a point for his own low blow and became noticeably more defensive, Martinez showed all the urgency of a traffic cone. If it had been a moment there for Martinez to capture, he let it pass right on by.

In an eight-round bantamweight battle, Floyd Diaz comfortably outpointed Francisco Pedroza – but not without suffering some discomfort to get there.

Diaz (12-0, 3 KOs), of Las Vegas, was declared the winner on all three judges scorecards by matching margins (78-73), but Pedroza (18-12-2, 10 KOs), of Tijuana, Mexico, called on every ounce of  his experience, guile and strength to force Diaz to earn the win.

The early rounds were almost all Diaz, whose sharp jab and hook were always coiled and ready to fire, as Diaz maintained quiet but constant pressure on Pedroza to cut off the ring and sting him with counters whenever he attempted to summon his own offense. In the third, Diaz ducked a big Pedroza right hand, blistered him to the body with a picture-perfect right-left counter and appeared well on his way to a wide decision.

But in the fourth, Pedroza, seemingly sensing he needed to change something, turned up his aggressiveness. Initially, hat opened the door for Diaz to slip and counter, if not beat Pedroza to the punch altogether. Diaz, having nibbled while waiting for his moment, started taking chunks out of Pedroza with blinding combinations. Pedroza landed a few solid right hands, and squared up with his own counter left hook upstairs, but Diaz’s accuracy and hand speed won most exchanges.

Pedroza made a choice in the fifth to sell out – and it was his best (and perhaps only) decision of the fight. Yes, Diaz countered to disrupt his rhythm (and his jawline) from time to time, but Pedroza began breaking through, and even rocked Diaz with a right hand in the first minute. Flicking his jab, Pedroza mixed in an uppercut and a stinging right hand to the body. For the first time, Diaz was on the back foot.

Diaz stayed calm and answered back with a left hook to the jaw and a slicing right cross that nearly pirouetted Pedroza at the bell. In the sixth, with Diaz trying to drag him into a clinch, Pedroza popped him on the ears, prompting referee Mark Ortega to take a point without warning. Yet that seemed to only increase Pedroza’s determination, who began stepping into range, setting his feet and swinging for the fences. Diaz kept his foot on the accelerator, but the pressure seemed to stifle him a bit and his previously crisp counterpunching became somewhat muffled.

In the eighth and final round, Pedroza seemed to finally run out of steam – especially in the last two minutes, when Diaz hammered his midsection with counter hooks and bolo punches, sucked the wind from Pedroza and finally backed him up. With Pedroza gulping for air in the last moments, Diaz cracked his open mouth to punctuate the win.

DJ Zamora III preserved his undefeated record in a unanimous – if somewhat uninspiring – decision over Jose Antonio Meza in an eight-round junior lightweight matchup.

The scorecards were all in favor of Zamora – 80-72 (twice) and 79-73 – though the action suggested a smaller gap.

Zamora (13-0, 9 KOs), of Las Vegas, was matched up against another long, lean 130-pounder in Meza (9-9, 2 KOs), of Torreon, Mexico, and the hometown fighter never fully exposed the difference in class.

The southpaw Zamora seemed to use the first round to mostly measure distance, poke and prod, though he did break through with a few left hands that likely earned him the round.

In the second, Zamora pressed the issue with a few jab-left hand combinations that put Meza on the defensive, if not in grave danger. Closing out the round, Meza was even able to back Zamora into a corner, eating a left hand in order to land his own power shot.

Zamora, a bit tentative and too willing to wait in hunting for the perfect shot from distance, gave Meza the confidence to find a home for his jab, which began swelling Zamora’s right eye in the third. Zamora turned up the aggressiveness just a bit in the fourth, snapping Meza’s head back with enough lunging left hands to likely secure the round.

Zamora pressed more in the sixth, showed a bit more variation, landing a splashy left hook, closing distance and going to the body more often when Meza had his back on the ropes. In general, though, it wasn’t a banner night for Zamora, who suffered a cut on the bridge of his nose and seemed puzzled through the final bell by how to solve the angles against another tall and even rangier fighter.

In a six-round junior bantamweight matchup, prospect Steven Navarro coasted to a shutout unanimous decision win over Juan Pablo Meza.

Navarro (2-0, 1 KO), of Los Angeles, won by 60-54 scores on all three cards, but Meza (7-4, 2 KOs), from Santiago, Chile, gave him good work at this early stage of his career.

Navarro led off by splitting Meza’s guard with two lead left hands from a southpaw stance, but Meza returned fire with a couple of mettle-testing uppercuts. Navarro, switching to orthodox, began putting punches together and landed some eye-catching left hooks to the body.

In the second round, Navarro’s superior skill and hand speed began to show, though Meza landed a left hook upstairs to keep the prospect honest. Although Meza’s will and chin were plenty game, his wide stance and slow, looping punches left him open to sharp jabs and counters from Navarro, who then upped the ante to clean uppercuts and hooks in the second half of the frame.

Navarro owned the third round, shrugging off a bit of early work from Meza, whom he then used for target practice – with both hands, to the body and head, in the pocket and from distance, firing from seemingly every imaginable angle. When Navarro hammered Meza with a straight right hand near the end of the frame, he was as comfortable and in control as a fighter in his second pro bout could possibly be.

Navarro closed the fifth with a series of flash-bang combinations, landing three punches before Meza could get off one. It was more of the same in the sixth, when Navarro bloodied Meza’s left eye and nose going for the knockout. Meza, who had never been stopped, was able to take some solace in staying on his feet through the final bell yet again.

In the opening bout, middleweight Bryan Polaco recorded a third-round stoppage against Richard Acevedo in a scheduled six-rounder.

The 6-foot-3 Polaco (6-0, 4 KOs), of Fajardo, Puerto Rico, used his length to crack the defenses of Acevedo (6-0-1, 5 KOs) and twice knock down the Oxnard, California, product in the third round. When Polaco stalked Acevedo in the waning moments of the session and Acevedo, with a dark mouse under one eye and moving on wobbly legs, wasn’t letting his hands go, referee Mike Ortega waved off the fight at 2:51.

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