By Phil Doherty at ringside
Photos: Scott Foster
Three-time world champion Miguel Cotto (38-4, 31 KOs) scored a spectacular third round knockout over current top-five contender Delvin Rodriguez (28-7-3, 16 KOs) in a super welterweight clash on Saturday night before a loud, energetic crowd of 11,912 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. In his first fight with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, Cotto came out very aggressively firing hard left hooks to the head and body. Cotto stalked Rodriguez and finally blasted him to the canvas in round three. Referee Frank Santore Jr. immediately waved it off. Time was :18.
“It feels good,” said Cotto, who came in on a two fight losing streak. “Bring it back to the basics. Bring it back to the roots.”
Trainer Freddie Roach added, “Anyone who wants to fight off the ropes with a guy like Miguel, it’s just a matter of time before he gets to him with those body shots. The body shots broke him down and the head shot knocked him out.”
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A seemingly attractive clash of unbeaten lightweights ended up being a one-sided affair as slick boxer Terence Crawford (22-0, 16 KOs) outclassed Andrey Klimov (16-1, 8 KOs) over ten rounds. It was a mostly tactical fight with the WBO #1, IBF #10 Crawford controlling the action behind his jab. IBF #6, WBO #11 Klimov was never able to get untracked. Crawford finally opened up in the last ten seconds and rocked Klimov. Scores were 100-90 on all cards.
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Undefeated Puerto Rican featherweight Jayson Velez (21-0, 15 KOs) earned a grueling ten-round unanimous decision victory against Dat (rhymes with gnat) Nguyen (17-3, 6 KOs) of Vietnam. Despite boasting the height and reach advantages, Velez couldn’t keep Nguyen off him as the determined challenger pressed the action.
There was some confusion at the end of the first round as a whistle sounded to signal the ten-second warning, causing Nguyen to begin walking defenseless to his corner. When action resumed, Nguyen resumed his pursuit of Velez and scored a solid one-two combination that briefly stunned the Puerto Rican, who also exhibited swelling under his right eye.
The two men fell into an exhausting rhythm as Velez repeatedly scored thudding straight rights to Nguyen’s head but could barely slow him down. For his part, Nguyen continued working his way inside and pushed Velez to the ropes, leaning on him in an effort to wear him down. Velez came back strong in the eighth round with crisp three-punch combinations and both men traded skull-thudding blows.
In the tenth and final round Velez continued to land the lead right hand and Nguyen continued to eat it up, pushing forward again and again despite the withering fire. Both men earned a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd and ringside observers. Judges found in Velez’s favor with margins of 98-91 and 96-93 (twice).
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It didn’t take long for Puerto Rican light middleweight destroyer Jorge “The Destroyer” Melendez (27-3-1, 26 KOs) to score the first knockdown of the evening just seconds into his scheduled ten-round tussle with Jamaal Davis (14-11-1, 6 KOs)of Philadelphia. Melendez launched a short right hook to Davis’s head and another as he fell to his knee, causing referee Sam Burgos to administer a standing eight-count. Action resumed with Melendez aggressively launching overhead rights and uppercuts at his opponent.
Amazingly the second knockdown of the round came behind a Melendez jab, depositing Davis butt-first to the canvas. Melendez continued the abuse into the second round, sending Davis stumbling forward towards the ropes with another overhand right. Sensing the opportunity to close, Melendez mixed in right uppercuts to Davis’s head and finished with a right cross to seal the deal as Burgos stepped in at 2:29 of round two.
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Rising Puerto Rican lightweight boxing prospect Felix Verdejo (8-0, 6 KOs) notched a second-round TKO victory against Gary Eyer (11-4-1, 7 KOs) of Duluth in front of a near-capacity Puerto Rican crowd from Orlando.
Verdejo, whose name translates to “greenish” clearly showed his professional stripes with better speed and power than his opponent. The Puerto Rican landed repeated left hooks and straight rights to Eyer’s face in the first round, causing his nose to bleed steadily. Another solid right hand in the second turned the trickle into a torrent, forcing referee Tellis Assimenios to halt action and bring the ring doctor over for a look.
Action was allowed to continue with Verdejo pouring on the abuse with wicked left hooks, scoring two in succession to Eyer’s head. That was enough for Assimenios, who waved off the fight at 2:53 of the second round.
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Puerto Rican middleweight Moises Carrasquillo Jr. (4-0, 3 KOs) scored a four-round unanimous decision victory over the game Steven Chadwick (2-5, 1 KO) of Orange Park FL in a four-round southpaw battle. Carrasquillo invested in body shots early in the fight, paving the way for solid straight lefts upstairs. One of these started Chadwicks nose to bleeding in the second round. Carrasquillo proceeded to work in uppercuts during the third and fourth rounds as Chadwick bravely continued coming forward. Chadwick scored shots of his own but not enough to sway the judges who each scored it 40-36 for the Puerto Rican.
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Featherweights Lamar Charlton (1-5-2, 1 KO) and Ricky Tomlinson (1-0-1, 1 KO) fought to a spirited split decision draw after four rounds in the opening bout from Orlando’s Amway Center tonight. Fighting from a more controlled style than normal, Charlton appeared to land the cleaner, more effective shots while Tomlinson responded with busy flurries of his own. Judges scored the bout 39-37 for Charlton, 39-37 for Tomlinson and 38-38.