Ja’Rico O’Quinn has shaken off ring rust and a relentless opponent to emerge victorious in his hometown.
The 28-year-old Detroit resident won a ten-round unanimous decision defeating Carlos Mujica in a thrilling junior featherweight bout. Referee Katealia Chambers (100-90) scored in a ridiculous close for O’Quinn who was awarded a much closer and deserved verdict on the cards of David DeJonge (97-93) and Gerard White (96-94) in their DAZN opener in Saturday evening from the Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan.
The crowd stood behind local O’Quinn as he fought for the first time in 15 months. Mujica – a Venezuelan living in Las Vegas – showed no interest in fighting on the road. O’Quinn had early success with a right hook as he opted to box from the south foot position, but Mujica had no respect at all for the power that shook the Detroit native with a left hook late in the round.
Mujica was still in the second round, but his best punch in the frame was not a legal punch. A sharp warning was given to Mujika for hitting the chin long after the bell rang.
O’Quinn was encouraged by his horn to box more and not admire his work. He listened to his guides and found a place for a long thrust followed by hooks. Mujica was cut above his left eye, which the referee determined was the cause of the impact.
Despite the change of pace, O’Quinn’s team was still unhappy with his decision to trade inside instead of boxing at a distance. They were worried that Mujica was finding opportunities to land in the clinch and potentially steal close rounds.
O’Quinn connected with an uppercut in round six to attract Mjuica’s attention. O’Quinn still insisted on close combat, but was better at defending against Mujica pressure and cutting shots. Both boxers landed on the body early in round seven, but O’Quinn remembered to work behind the punch and found the required distance to slow down Mujica’s attack.
Both corners expressed concern ahead of the last two rounds. There was a feeling within O’Quinn’s team that Mujica’s activity would influence the judges, while the opposing side was understandably concerned about winning a close road fight.
Mujica was cautioned midway through the ninth round for hitting a stoppage. O’Quinn didn’t care about the sequence and worked his last-minute combinations. Mujica was beaten but drove O’Quinn to the ropes and landed a left hook to the body in the final seconds.
O’Quinn’s shots to the body pushed Mujica away early in the final round. Mujica regrouped and rode to the ropes. The time was announced as 1:12 after O’Quinn lost his mouthpiece during the exchange. Mujica pressed in the last minute, but O’Quinn was able to score with a left hook and right hand from close range.
O’Quinn moved up to 16-1-1 (8 KOs) with the win, his second in a row since a stunning first-round knockout loss to Saul Sanchez in September 2021. Mujica fell to 8-3 (2 KOs) in the end of the two-winning streak.
Heading the show, undisputed junior lightweight champion Alycia Baumgardner (14-1, 7 KOs) will meet former two-time WBO 140-pound world champion Christina Linardatou. Their fight is a rematch of a July 2018 match that Linardatou won via split decision.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox