Friday, February 03, 2023  |


Luis Ortiz stops Lateef Kayode in one, Jesus Cuellar KOs JuanMa Lopez

Photo by Gene Blevins - Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Photo by Gene Blevins – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

LAS VEGAS – In a precursor to Saturday’s rematch between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Marcos Maidana, Golden Boy Promotions held a special Sept. 11 card at the Hard Rock Hotel that saw Luis Ortiz lay waste to Lateef Kayode with a first-round TKO.

The battle of unbeaten heavyweights for the vacant WBA interim heavyweight title headlined the Fox Sports 1 card and wasn’t expected to go the full 12 rounds. But it wasn’t expected to end so soon, either.

Ortiz made his presence felt from the opening minutes after a left right counter sent Kayode to the canvas in the opening minute. Although he wasn’t terribly hurt, Kayode realized that the Cuban – who hadn’t seen a fight go the distance since his third fight in 2010 – had dynamite in his hands and a bad intentions written all over him. The 6-foot-4, 234-pound monster of a man seemingly grew in stature as Kayode, who is no small man himself at 6-foot-1 and 221 pounds, began to shrink with every passing second.

The man who defected from Cuba with his sickly daughter on a speedboat in 2009 wasn’t going allow this moment to slip away and plowed forward after Kayode showed that he had a difficult time dealing with Ortiz’ power.

“The Real King Kong” walked his prey into the corner and crushed Kayode with a right hook. Visibly damaged, Kayode refused to go down but ate a menacing barrage of power shots as Ortiz could sense that the end was near. Referee Robert Byrd rescued Kayode from the assault at the 2:55 mark, much to the chagrin of the Freddie Roach pupil, who immediately protested the stoppage. Nevertheless, Kayode was on shaky legs and near the end of the line.

“My dream was to come to Golden Boy Promotions because Oscar De La Hoya has the vision,” an elated Ortiz said afterward. “And now I’m the world champion.

“I just followed my corner’s instruction as the key to victory. They told me to pay attention and wait for the moment and the knockout would come. And it did.”

Ortiz claimed the interim title, but perhaps more importantly, set himself up for a major fight. And with debilitating power, who wouldn’t like to see Ortiz face the upper echelon of the heavyweight division?

If Juan Manuel Lopez wasn’t going to call it a career after being knocked out in July, he definitely should hang up the gloves after being demolished by Jesus Cuellar two months later.

Cuellar (25-1, 19 knockouts) defended his WBA interim featherweight title with a sickening second-round KO against Lopez, whose best years are clearly behind him. The Robert Garcia trained Argentinean went right after Lopez – who was likely still shaking the cobwebs from the brutal beating he took from Francisco Vargas on July 12 – and drilled him with power shots that quickly showed their effect by forming a mouse under Lopez’ right eye in the first round. With a strong Argentinean contingency on hand, Cuellar wouldn’t disappoint and sent a swift, brutal message by hanging “JuanMa” out to dry in the second round.

After pounding on the Puerto Rican for the first minute of the second frame, Cuellar trapped Lopez on the robes and unleashed a hellacious left hook that obliterated the Puerto Rican and sent him face first into the canvas. Referee Tony Weeks didn’t even bother to count as Lopez clearly was in no shape to get back into the fight. The end came at 1:36.

Lopez has now lost three of his last four fights by knockouts that have all come before the fifth round. This one was arguably the most brutal and was proof that Lopez has nothing left in the tank.

Jermall Charlo improved to 19-0 with a seventh round TKO against Norberto Gonzalez in a scheduled eight-round middleweight bout. The twin brother of Jermell Charlo, who saw his March fight with Carlos Molina nixed, get a much lower level competitor in Gonzalez (20-5), but made due with what he had in front of him. Charlo was dominant from the start with a crisp jab and precision punching. After being docked a point in Round 4, an incensed Charlo looked for the knockout. A straight right hand dropped Gonzalez in Round 5 and a flurry of punches in Round 7 brought Gonzalez’ corner out to stop the fight at the 1:23 mark.

Julian Williams kept his unbeaten record intact with a unanimous decision victory over Eliezer Gonzalez. Williams (16-0-1) utilized a stiff jab and a hard straight right hand to control the fight from the outset. Although he valiantly tried to get the knockout, Gonzalez (14-1) wouldn’t let the Philly fighter get the satisfaction. Instead, Williams cruised to an 80-72 sweep on all three scorecards.

Rising prospect Errol Spence Jr. put on a clinic against Noe Bolanos and made his opponent quit on the stool after two rounds. Spence put on a sizzling display of offense as he shredded Bolanos with a variety of jabs, hooks and body shots. Bolanos struggled to defend himself and decided not to answer the bell for the third round. Spence improved to 14-0 (11 KOs) while Bolanos fell to 26-11-1.

In a relatively uneventful eight-round welterweight bout, Josesito Lopez (33-6) scored a unanimous decision shutout over Rafael Cobos (15-5-5). Lopez was the busier of the two as Cobos did little more than come forward and smother his own offense. Whenever there was space between the two, Lopez would clobber him with combinations. Cobos proved to be little more than a heavy bag as Lopez walked away with 80-72 scores across the board.

2012 Olympian Jamal Herring improved to 9-0 and secured his sixth knockout with a second-round stoppage of Rafael Cobos in junior welterweight action. Herring was on the offensive from the outset and pummeled Cobos throughout the fight. A wicked combination sent Cobos reeling and forced referee Kenny Bayless to call a halt to the bout at the 1:04 mark.