Juan Carlos Abreu stops Jesus Soto Karass in eight, Ryan Garcia shines on ESPN (again)
TUCSON, Ariz. – Juan Carlos Abreu reminded Jesus Soto Karass that there’s no sure way to say goodbye. No good way either.
Abreu delivered a couple of huge lefts, dropping Soto Karass twice in the eighth round and nearly sending him through the ropes, if not into retirement, with the second knockdown in a powerful stoppage of the popular Mexican journeyman Thursday night in an ESPN-televised bout at Casino Del Sol.
For Abreu (20-3-1, 19 KOs), the victory was a reason to think that maybe he can still be a player in the welterweight division. For Soto Karass (28-13-4, 18 KOs), the crushing defeat looked like just another reason to walk away from his 16-plus years in harm’s way.
But Soto Karass wasn’t ready to say goodbye. Moments after he got up after the crushing finish at 1:07 of the eighth, he went from corner to corner, stood on the ring’s bottom rope and waved at the crowd. It wasn’t a gesture of farewell. He was saying thanks.
“Thanks to my fans,” said Soto Karass, who wasn’t sure about retirement before or after opening bell. “I will sit down with my manager and my family, talk to them, then decide.”
It was clear to Soto Karass and anybody else at the casino south of downtown Tucson that his Mexican fans haven’t given up on him. Maybe that’s because he never gives up. It was clear in the early going that it would only be a matter of time before the quicker, stronger Abreu would catch Soto Karass, who as a boxer is as pedestrian as he is fearless. He just kept moving forward.
“I just got caught, really caught by a punch from a guy who can really punch,” he said.
No argument there. The finishing blows might have come earlier. However, Abreu, a Dominican, said he hurt his right hand in the second round. He said planned to have a physician examine the hand to determine whether he sustained a serious injury.
He said the pain made him cautious from the third round through the seventh. There were moments in the sixth and again in the seventh when it looked as if Soto Karass would simply try to wait him out, perhaps wear him out. In the eighth, the stubbornly persistent Soto Karass walked into the only good hand Abreu still had. Then, it landed once and then a second time, finishing a fight, if not a career.
In the co-main event, junior lightweight prospect Ryan Garcia (12-0, 11 KOs) came into the ring to classical music. Garcia, of Victorville, Calif., wore shorts that could of come out of the 1950s. They were black-and-white. They also were made in honor of the late Jake LaMotta, whose “Raging Bull” nickname was stitched across the back of the trunks alongside 1922-2017, the years of LaMotta’s birth and death.
It was an old-school look. It was an old-school win, too. Garcia’s power, delivered by quick hands, stole the show, overwhelming an overmatched Cesar Valenzuela (14-6-1, 5 KOs). A Garcia left, traveling at blinding speed, knocked down Valenzuela in the first round. Another finished him late in third of a bout referee Tony Zaino ended in the final second of the round.
In the telecast’s opening bout, the judges’ scores made it look easy. It wasn’t. Prospect Hector Tanajara Jr. (11-0, 4 KOs), a Robert Garcia-trained junior-lightweight, endured head-rocking shots and stubborn aggressiveness from Mexican Jesus Serrano (17-5-2, 12 KOs) for eight rugged rounds. In the end, Tanajara relied on his superior reach and bigger body, winning a unanimous decision that was a lot closer than the 80-72, 79-73, 80-72 scorecards.