29-year-old Ismail “The Sharp Shooter” Muwendo (19-1) suffered the first defeat of his professional boxing career on Saturday night in California against John Moralde (20-1) of the Philipines. The Saint Paul, MN based Muwendo pushed the pace for nearly every moment of the eight round fight but could not overcome two knockdowns tallied by the counter-punching Moralde on the scorecards.
The two boxers fought cautiously for most of the first round until Muwendo landed a hard right hand to the head of Moralde late. Moralde, who was moving up from the lightweight division, showed his power when he answered with a countering left hook to the jaw that sent Muwendo to the canvas at the end of the round.
Muwendo came forward and stalked Moralde with straight left and rights but was caught again with a hard left hook to begin round two. Muwendo was catching Moralde but leaving his right hand low and reaching with his punches. This left Moralde with more opportunities to land his left hook, which he did.
Moralde became more active with his combinations in round three and Muwendo continued to come forward. Moralde’s higher punch volume opened opportunities for Muwendo and the Ugandan born puncher began to land more accurately with big body shots to go along with his jab and right hand. Muwendo was also keeping his hands up more and throwing tighter shots.
Round four was big for Muwendo as the action heated up. A sneaky right hand to the head rocked Moralde and Muwendo closed the round strong.
Mirroring the previous rounds, Muwendo walked forward and Moralde backpedaled in round five. Muwendo began to reach with his punches again. Although he was closing the round strong, Muwendo was showing signs of getting tired as his hands dropped during exchanges. Moralde found a home for another counter left hook that put Muwendo down hard again. The punch by Moralde stole the round from Muwendo.
Round six was close with Muwendo being more active but still leaving himself open to Moralde’s dangerous counter punches. Moralde stuck to his counter-punching plan in the seventh but Muwendo finally landed the big right hand to the head that he had sought all fight with roughly :15 remaining in the round. Muwendo followed up with a hard left hook to the head but ran out of time to capitalize.
Muwendo was in phenomenal conditioning and it showed by the pace he set again in the eighth and final round. Muwendo walked forward and rocked Moralde with a two-fisted assault but Moralde retreated, held, and fought back enough to make the final bell. It was an exciting fight with both prospects showing a lot of potential and a few things to work on for their next fight. The final scores read 76-74, 76-74, 77-73 for Moralde.