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DeLoach blasts Pearson in two, Rodriguez survives Bravo

Justin DeLoach (right) overwhelmed fellow junior middleweight prospect Chris Pearson in the second round of their ShoBox main event on Feb. 24, 2017, in Temecula, California. Photo by Esther Lin / SHOWTIME
Fighters Network

The career of Justin DeLoach looked uncertain about two years ago.

After his performance on Friday night, DeLoach’s place amongst those in the junior middleweight division looks a lot more clearer.

DeLoach scored an impressive second round knockout over Christopher Pearson at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California.

With the win, DeLoach improves to 17-1, with nine knockouts. Pearson falls to 14-2 1 NC, 10 KOs.

DeLoach, who hails from Augusta, Georgia, suffered a surprising third round knockout to Cesar Vila in February of 2015. DeLoach would win his next three bouts, but against nondescript opposition.

But it was his highlight-reel knockout win over Dillon Cook on Mar. 25 that seemed to revitalize his career. DeLoach would follow the victory over Cook with decision wins over Junior Castillo and Dominique Dalton, both of whom were unbeaten when they faced DeLoach.

With the loss to DeLoach, Pearson has lost two of his last three bouts.

Early on in the fight, DeLoach was able to score repeatedly by landing straight right hands to the head of the southpaw Pearson.

DeLoach’s ability to score to the head continued into round two, but it was a left hook to the head that stunned Pearson against the ropes. Moments later, a barrage of punches dropped Pearson to the canvas. While Pearson showed heart in getting up and fighting back, another barrage of punches dropped Pearson a second time. Pearson struggled to stand up as referee Jack Reiss counted him out at 2:30.

“I’m not surprised that it happen so quickly,” said DeLoach after the fight. “We had a strategy and we stuck to it. Hard work pays off and that (the knockout) was proof.

“I didn’t think I was as underdog, but I understand the whole thing of psychological warfare. I want the winner of (Tony) Harrison and Jarrett (Hurd).”

In the co-feature, Saul Rodriguez survived a knockdown in the fifth round to win a close and debatable 10-round split decision over Oscar Bravo.

Rodriguez goes to 21-0-1, 15 KOs, while Bravo falls to 22-7, 10 KOs.

Rodriguez, who resides in nearby Riverside, had not fought since May 14. His contract with Top Rank ended months later, eventually signing a promotional contract with Mayweather Promotions in October.

Friday night also marked the first time Rodriguez would fight without having the services of trainer Robert Garcia. Both fighters parted ways amicably in August.

Rodriguez was the more effective fighter in the early rounds, landing the telling blows, particularly with right hands to the head.

However, as the bout progressed, Bravo, who is originally from Santiago, Chile, began to land with more frequency. Bravo would find his way to the inside of Rodriguez’s guard, landing to the head and body of Rodriguez.

Bravo scored the only knockdown of the fight in round five, landing a sweeping right cross to the head, dropping Rodriguez against the ropes. Rodriguez was able to recover, but took a lot of punishment over the next several rounds.

Rodriguez would fight in spurts, but had to hold off a more-energized Bravo, who momentarily stunned Rodriguez towards the end of round eight. Both had their moments in the tenth and final round.

One judge scored the bout 95-94 for Bravo, while the other two judges scored the bout 95-94 and 97-92 in favor of Rodriguez. RingTV scored the bout 95-94 for Bravo.

Cruiserweight Andrew Tabiti (14-0, 12 KOs) scored a knockout win when Quantis Graves remained on his stool after the sixth round.

It was Tabiti from the opening bell, landing and imposing his will on the Graves. Anytime Graves attempted to mount a rally, Tabiti would connect, putting Graves on the defensive.

Tabiti dropped Graves (11-1-2, 4 KOs) in round six with a right hand to the body. After the bell sounded to end the round, Graves told referee Ray Corona that he was not able to continue.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper,, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing