Sabillo, defending his belt for the second time, knew he was in for a tough fight before the first bell had rang. What he likely didn't expect was just how tough that fight would be as Buitrago, a youngster from Nicaragua, lived up to the high level of expectation put on his shoulders.
The fight started tentatively with both men looking to fight off their jab. Unfortunately for Sabillo this was a style that suited the faster and taller Buitrago who appeared to take the lead after 3 rounds by just out boxing Sabillo.
In round 4 the champion picked up the pace and tried to turn the fight in to a brawl. Buitrago, using his control of range and effective jab, managed to avoid a tear up though Sabillo was coming closer and closer to turning the fight around.
Sabillo, for the first time, managed to cut the distance in round 5 and by round 6 he was beginning to connect with his own shots off on a more regular basis. Buitrago was clearly in the lead but Sabillo's fighting heart was showing through as he fought his back into the fight. Whilst Sabillo was starting to turn it around he certainly wasn't having things all his own way and at several points Buitrago landed bombs on him, shot that would likely have stopped many fighters at 112 never mind 105lbs.
The charge of Sabillo, especially in the later rounds, saw him doing enough to take a number of rounds as he applied more and more pressure. Each round became more about whether you preferred the clear and punching of Buitrago or the tenacity and work rate of Sabillo. By the end however it was clear that neither man deserved to lose. The great start of Buitrago had been a long time ago and with out a doubt Sabillo had closed the gap on the cards during the second half of the fight.
With neither man deserving to lose it's fair to say the judges got it right by scoring a draw. The judges, who were actually split, all agreed it was paper thin with one judge having it 114-114 whilst the others went 115-113 each way leading to a split draw.
Interestingly, for those wanting to allege that Sabillo kept his title due to a "home town decision", the judges were from America, Germany and Japan whilst the referee was American. The close nature of the bout has seen many calling for a rematch and we'd love to see these two up against each other once again, maybe even on a Pacquiao card where the men can have a deservedly large audience.
Note-This was the co-main feature of "Pinoy Pride XXIII", which also saw Donnie Nietes in a action against Sammy Gutierrez of Mexico. Of the two bouts we recommend everyone checks out this one rather than the other.