Jesus "El Martillo" Gonzales enjoyed boxing success on national TV Friday night at the U.S. Airways Center, outpointing Mexico's Francisco Sierra for a unanimous decision after the fight lasted the full 12 rounds in front of Gonzales' hometown fans.
Gonzales, 26, made his third appearance in the ring since walking away from the sport in 2008. He wasn't always so sharp against the taller, rangier Sierra, but he scored a knockdown and came back from being knocked down to win on points.
The fight was at times a back-and-forth slugfest with a lot of punches being traded. Both fighters suffered cuts around their eyes and Gonzales near his nose, as Sierra, who was an emergency replacement and took the fight only a week ago, put forth a game effort although he looked sluggish in the later rounds.
In the end, Gonzales claimed the NABF super middleweight title and gave the fans their money's worth, and those fans who got free tickets a pretty good free show.
Gonzales, whose good friends and loved ones call him Ernie, signed with Top Rank as an 18-year-old when he turned pro. But by 2008 he was out of the sport, working in construction, security and as a census counter.
Gonzales came back last fall and is undefeated since. He looked good early against Sierra, working the body and connecting with a left hook in the fourth round that knocked the wind out of Sierra and forced him to take a knee for a knockdown.
Sierra rallied in the fifth, using a sweeping right hand punch that landed on Gonzales' temple to score a knockdown of his own. Gonzales looked to be in trouble but made it through to continue boxing.
By the eighth round, both combatants were bloodied and needed to be checked by ringside doctors. Gonzales was the more fit fighter, as Sierra lost 12 pounds in a week just to come in at 175 for the fight and was still overweight.
Gonzales was the more aggressive and active fighter over the final four rounds and picked up more points from the judges in that span.
ESPN's CompuBox numbers showed a combined total of 312 punches landed with 248 of those being power punches.