Matt Regan scored the fight 76-75 and Dan Fitzgerald scored it 78-73. Jack Morell scored it 76-76. Vukosa improved to 9-0 (4 knockouts), while the 33-year-old Estrada, who was fighting for the first time since Nov. 10, 2012, dropped to 20-5 (6).
“It felt like I had left, but I have a great team behind me,” said Vukosa, who grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts and now lives in Boston. “I had some great sparring. My love of the sport made me come back. I was in great shape. Win or lose, I was boxing to enjoy myself.”
Vukosa won national Golden Gloves and Police Athletic League titles as an amateur. He moved to California to turn pro and train with Freddie Roach. He won eight pro fights, all in California, before a knee injury forced him to leave the sport.
He returned to Massachusetts, where he married, became the father of two children and took a job as a bus driver for the MBTA.
“I missed my window because of an injury and I accept that,” he said. “I’m happy. I’m working and I have a family.
“I went to California to train with Freddie Roach. Now I’m back with Jimmy Farrell [who trained Vukosa as an amateur]. I wish I stayed with Jimmy.”
Vukosa, a southpaw, entered the ring wearing an MBTA t-shirt that said “Bus Drivers Do It Better,” and a soft brace on his left knee. He smiled throughout the prefight introductions. Referee Eddie Claudio expressed some concerns about the knee support, but the Massachusetts commission ruled it was acceptable.
Estrada was the busier fighter in the first three rounds, landing combinations to the body. Vukosa started to let his hands go in the fourth.
In the sixth, Vukosa opened a cut above Estrada’s right eye with a straight left hand following a right hook to the body. Vukosa pressed the action in the seventh while Estrada slowed down a bit.
Estrada began the eighth with two good uppercuts, but Vukosa controlled the rest of the round.
Vukosa did not have any lofty expectations when he began his comeback. He said his plans are not changing after this fight, either.
“I just came back to have a few fights,” he said. “I’m back at work, driving the bus, tomorrow.”
In the co-feature, featherweights Joseph “Chip” Perez of Hartford, Connecticut and Augustine Mauras of Lawrence, Massachusetts fought to a six-round draw. All three judges scored it 57-57. Perez (10-3-1, 3 KO s) was the stronger fighter through most of the final four rounds, landing some hard shots to the body. Mauras (6-0-2, 3 KO s) did his best work in the first two rounds, landing hooks to the body and uppercuts.
New England middleweight champion Russell Lamour, Jr. of Portland, Maine won a six-round unanimous decision over Saul Almeida of Framingham, Massachusetts in a non-title bout. Fitzgerald scored it 59-55, Regan scored it 60-55 and Morrell scored it 60-54 for Lamour (9-0, 4 KO s).
Lamour was the aggressor throughout the fight, establishing himself with a body attack in the first two rounds. Almeida was bleeding from the nose in the fourth round.
Almeida (0-5) is normally a mixed martial arts fighter. He landed some occasional right hands to the face while countering Lamour, while was not exactly satisfied with his performance.
“I’m glad I won,” Lamour said. “I’ve fought some tough guys, but today I just didn’t have it. I try to stay busy.”
Lamour will fight again on Sept. 18 in Manchester, New Hampshire and in November in Portland.
Freddy Sanchez of Worcester, Massachusetts earned his second victory in as many pro fights with a four-round majority decision over debuting Rafael Francis of Brockton, Massachusetts at light welterweight. The scores were 39-37 (twice) and 38-38.
At middleweight, Jay Kelly of Dorchester, Massachusetts stopped debuting Brian Diaz of Boston in the first round of a scheduled four at middleweight. Kelly (2-0, 2 KO s) dropped Diaz with a left to the body. Eddie Claudio stopped the fight at 1:20.
At welterweight, Joe Wilson, Jr. of Hartford, Connecticut won a four-round majority decision over Jimmy Smith of Portland, Maine. The scores were 39-37, 39-38 and 38-38. Wilson improved to 3-1; Smith, the outstanding boxer in the 2009 New England Golden Gloves and a former Marine, dropped to 1-2 (1).
Super middleweight Rameil Shelton of Providence, Rhode Island picked up his first professional win, knocking out Mical Weisenberg of Stoughton, Massachusetts 35 seconds into the first round of a scheduled four. Shelton (1-5) dropped Weisenberg with a right hand. After Weisenberg (3-2, 2 KO s) stumbled while trying to get up, the ringside physician entered the ring before referee Bob Benoit finished his count.
Carlos Candelario of Lawrence, Massachusetts stopped Moises Rivera of Dorchester, Massachusetts in the second round of a scheduled four at light welterweight. Benoit stopped the fight at 1:04 of the second after Candelario drove Rivera into the ropes with a right hand. Candelario is now 5-1 (3); Rivera is 0-3.
Travis Demko of Stoughton, Massachusetts earned a stoppage victory over Paulo Souza of Somerville, Massachusetts when Souza’s corner threw in the towel at 1:10 of the first round in a scheduled four at welterweight. Demko’s record is 2-0 (1); Souza dropped to 0-3.
In a battle of debuting light middleweights, Andy Gonzales of Worcester, Massachusetts stopped Anthony Everett of Lawrence, Massachusetts in the second round of a scheduled four. After Everett put him on the deck in the first, Gonzales dropped Everett once in the second before Claudio stopped the fight at 2:49.