By Rocky Morales at ringside
In an all-out war, former two-time world champ Jesse Vargas (29-2-2, 11KO) knocked out three-time world champ Humberto Soto (69-10-2, 38KO) with a vicious combination at 1:48 of the sixth round of a scheduled ten round bout at a 151 pound catchweight. In a very rough fight, Soto went down in the first round from a low blow courtesy of Vargas. Not long after, Vargas suffered a nasty cut above his eye courtesy of a headbutt by Soto. While Vargas seemed to be doing enough to win the rounds, Soto remained hard-charging until the bitter end when he was finally dropped by a perfectly placed right cross to the chin. Soto was able to get up and continue but Vargas jumped right on him. After a barrage of punches from Vargas, Soto was dropped again hard and the referee justifiably waved off the bout with no protest from the Soto corner. Vargas was simply too young and too sharp for the aged warrior, Soto, whose last hurrah was likely his upset victory over Brandon Rios in his prior bout.
Anthony “The Magician” Sims Jr (19-0, 17KO) was the unanimous decision victor over rugged but one dimensional Vaughn Alexander (14-3, 9KO) in a ten round super middleweight bout. Sims best magic trick may have been to make the crowd, who had cheered the first four bouts, boo at various times through this bout. Sims Jr. was content to be the matador to the charging bull, Alexander, which was surprising given Sims Jr.’s 94% knockout ratio entering the fight. Sims Jr., with the win, remains a hot prospect but fails to yet cross over to legitimate contender. Judges scored the bout 98-92, 96-94 and 98-92 all in favor of Sims Jr.
Diego Pacheco (3-0, 2KO) knocked out totally overmatched Guillermo Maldonado (1-1, 0KO) at just 1:46 of the first round. Maldonado, coming off four years inactivity, had zero defense and was hit with nearly punch Pacheco threw. The 18 year old, 6’4” Pacheco, from neighboring South Central Los Angeles, had many boisterous fans in attendance and did not disappoint.
2016 Olympic Silver Medalist, Shakhram Giyasov (8-0, 6KO), was stretched the distance by veteran Emmanuel Taylor (20-6, 14KO) and had to settle for a clear cut unanimous decision to win the vacant WBA International Super Lightweight belt. Giyasov was the far busier fighter but Taylor did have Giyasov wobbled on a couple occasions but Giyasov wisely clenched each time to clear his head. Giyasov, now fighting out of Brooklyn, NY, by way of Uzbekistan, grunted with nearly every power punch and was his own biggest fan in the ring. Taylor finally traded blow for blow in the final round but it was too little too late, rusty perhaps from a two year layoff. Judges scored it 99-91, 97-93 and 99-91 all in favor of Giyasov.
In opening bout action from The Forum, Murodjon Akhmadliev, the WBA #1 super bantamweight and mandatory contender to Daniel Roman (6-0, 5KO) dominated and knocked out former world title challenger Carlos Carlson (23-6, 14KO). Despite the respectable record, Carlson has now dropped four of his last five bouts. The 24 year old Uzbekistan Native, now fighting out of Indio, CA, is on the fast track to a world title shot. Time of the stoppage was at 2:51 of the third round.
In a scheduled four round middleweight bout, amateur standout, Austin Williams (1-0, 1KO). made his debut a successful one with a first round destruction over outclassed Joel Guevara (3-5-1). The referee waved off the bout at 2:06 of the first round with Guevara taking heavy punishment.