Alexis Rocha stops Blair Cobbs in nine entertaining rounds
LOS ANGELES – Alexis Rocha scored the biggest win of his six-year pro career, dropping and stopping unbeaten Blair Cobbs in nine rounds on Saturday at the Galen Center on USC campus.
Rocha (19-1, 13 KOs), a 24-year-old southpaw puncher from Santa Ana, California, won his third fight in a row since suffering his lone pro loss against Rashidi Ellis via 12-round unanimous decision in October 2020.
Another win or two like this one and the affable welterweight prospect will make the transition to legit contender in one of the glamor divisions of the sport. He’s already made the transition from Orange County standout to Los Angeles attraction.
The Galen Center was supposed to be packed with Vergil Ortiz Jr. fans on Saturday but the young welterweight contender had to pull out of his main event vs. Michael McKinson with health issues. However, Rocha’s diehard fans from Santa Ana filled the college arena when his co-feature vs. Cobbs was elevated to the new Golden Boy/DAZN main event. And Rocha gave them a reason to loudly cheer by putting on a performance of controlled aggression, smart pressure and accurate power punching.
Cobbs (15-1-1, 10 KOs), a flamboyant southpaw with a pro wrestling “heel” persona, did his part as well. He didn’t just give the partisan crowd a funny character to boo, he fought his herky jerky ass off.
It takes two willing participants to make for an entertaining fight.
And if the McKinson-Alex Martin co-feature made you think that southpaws don’t make for good fights when matched against each other, Rocha-Cobbs reminded you that boxing is as much about mentalities as it is styles.
Both lefties have entertaining styles – Cobbs is an unorthodox boxer who punches on the fly, while Rocha is a heavy handed pressure fighter and body snatcher – but they also have guts.
Rocha was willing to walk through Cobbs’ rapid-fire pot shots during the early rounds. His right eye swelled and his face got marked up but he continued to patiently stalk the the faster, twitchier stick-and-mover and land heavy jabs and straight shots to the narrow midsection of the 32-year-old Philadelphian.
“I wasn’t going to get discouraged at all,” Rocha said after the fight. “Blair is talker, he was awkward and he would lunge in with his head, which caused some bruising, but I won’t let anybody or anything take me off my game.”
Cobbs, the more battle tested of the two, showed grit by getting through the middle rounds when Rocha, the stronger and sturdier of the two, finally caught up to him and repeatedly stunned and staggered him with head-snapping lefts.
Both men swung for the fences as the bout entered the late rounds. But Rocha is a home-run hitter. Cobbs is not. Rocha pressed Cobbs to the ropes and clipped him with a monster right hook/uppercut hybrid in Round 8 that should have turned Cobbs’ lights out but the curly haired wildman somehow made it to his feet and survived to the bell.
But the writing was on the wall. Cobbs’ boundless energy carried him into Round 9 and he even gambled by launching haymakers at Rocha, but the younger fighter with the more settled technique was in firm command and soon had the lovable loudmouth’s back to the ropes where he unleashed a barrage of damaging blows that prompted referee Rudy Barragan (at the behest of Cobbs’ corner) to halt the fight.
Rocha’s steady pressure and patience – supported by just about everybody in the arena, who proudly chanted his name – had paid off.
What’s next for Rocha?
“More main events,” said Rocha, who hopes to return to the ring in June or July (provided his right eye heals right). “I know I should be calling fighters out but I don’t do that. I’m respectful.”
Cobbs called out pretty much everybody in the welterweight division in the weeks leading into the Rocha fight. In the days before the fight, Cobbs targeted McKinson, who congratulated Rocha during the post-fight presser.
“That fight was worthy of a main event,” said McKinson, who added that Rocha is the nicest fighter on the card. “Blair’s head wasn’t on straight. He was calling me out when he should have been focusing on you.”
Cobbs may have overlooked Rocha, but Rocha is firmly focused on himself.
“I’m want to work my way up the rankings, so I need to develop as a fighter,” he said. “I need the kind of fights I had tonight. Blair was undefeated and he was tough. I knew I’d beat him if I kept the pressure on him but I think I could have got to him earlier if I let my hands go more, used more feints, and put more combinations together.
“Blair did a lot of running, a lot of holding, a lot of talking, but I wouldn’t let him get in my head. I won’t let any fighter get in my head. My job is to knock you out.”