O’Malley fight set for 10/11

  • Charlie Laughtland<br>Enterprise writer
  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 10:22am

Edmonds boxer Martin O’Malley will look to get over the sting of his second professional defeat by returning to action next weekend.

O’Malley is slated to face Leonardo Rojas in the 10-round main event of an Oct. 11 card at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma.

It will be O’Malley’s first outing since he dropped a unanimous decision to Luis Villalta July 19 for the vacant North American Boxing Association lightweight belt.

“The only way I can redeem myself is in the ring. I want the fans to see that wasn’t the real me that night,” O’Malley said of his lopsided loss.

“Not to take anything away from (Villalta), but I couldn’t get anything going. I couldn’t get a rhythm. Physically, I was ready. But it was just one of those nights. That happens all the time in boxing and I need to find a way to still get the job done.”

O’Malley (21-2, 14 knockouts) came out cautious against Villalta and was sent to the canvas twice in the fourth round. Villalta was awarded almost all of the 10 rounds on all three scorecards.

Though the defeat certainly sidetracked his ascent up the lightweight ranks, O’Malley, 28, wants to make sure it remains a speed bump rather than a major setback.

“I can dwell on it, but it’s not going to help,” O’Malley said. “I’ll use it as motivation. I’ve already moved on. It was a bad night and I can’t afford to let it happen again.”

After watching tape of the fight, O’Malley determined his style was too laid back. Against Rojas (6-1-2, two knockouts), O’Malley intends to get back to his brawling roots.

“There’s got to be a happy medium between standing in front of somebody and trading punches and moving around the whole time,” O’Malley said. “I was trying to be too much of a boxer, staying on my toes. That’s not me. I didn’t do enough punching.”

Despite his limited resume, Rojas, 23, could at the very least provide O’Malley some quality rounds. The Peru native who now fights out of Montreal has never been knocked down in his 10 pro bouts.

O’Malley’s last knockout victory was three years ago.

“This is a fight Martin needs to win,” promoter Brian Halquist said. “Martin might have more ring experience, but he can’t come out and fight like he did the last time. He won’t beat anybody fighting that way.”

Rojas’ most recent fight, April 24 against Hoang Sang Nguyen, was called after the third round due to a headbutt Rojas sustained and ruled a no contest. At the time of the stoppage, Rojas was leading on all three scorecards.

Coming off his lone defeat in his home state, O’Malley isn’t taking Rojas lightly.

“Even though he doesn’t have much experience, he’ll still be coming to win,” O’Malley said. “I’ve still got to be at my best. With this fight I want to show I’m in line with the top fighters.”

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