By Miguel Maravilla, Rocky Morales and Jeff Zimmerman at ringside
WBC #8 Josesito “Riverside Rocky” Lopez (37-8, 19KO) was dominant in his knockout victory over the super tough but possibly shot John Molina Jr (30-9, 24KO). Lopez, in his previous fight, very nearly pulled off the upset against former WBA welterweight champ, Keith Thurman, but lost a narrow majority decision, instead. In meeting Molina, Lopez was promised a less crafty opponent who would not be hard to find and Molina quickly lived up to that promise as he was floored twice in the opening round. The first knockdown was from a right cross from long distance that found its mark. The next knockdown was from a hard left hook to the body. Molina seemed to question whether he wanted to continue but got up at the count of nine, continued on, and made it to the bell a few seconds later. The next few rounds were a boxing clinic by Lopez but then Molina started to show some life and may even have won the fifth and sixth rounds. Lopez came charging back in the seventh round and dropped Molina with another long distance right cross. It seemed as if the fight could be stopped right there but the referee allowed Molina to continue after getting up. After an eternity that seemed way longer than sixty seconds between the seventh and eighth round as Molina was examined by the doctor, the eighth round finally started. It didn’t take long for Molina to absorb more punishment and the referee mercifully intervened and waved off the bout at 0:39 of the eighth round. With the victory, Lopez remains a title contender at 147 pounds and may be one of the most experienced and best fighters out there to never win a world title.
Four time world champion, Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (36-6-1) had his hands full in winning a unanimous decision over a limited but enthusiastic Midwest club fighter in Jerry Thomas (14-2-1, 8KO). Credit to the matchmaker for finding as limited a 14-1-1 fighter as Thomas as his previous wins and draw came over opponents with a combined 79-88-3 record. It was a tedious and lackluster fight for the first five rounds and only came to life after Thomas started engaging more action. The ninth round was the best of the fight as Thomas went for broke and threw everything but the kitchen sink at Guerrero but it was not enough. Guerrero reminded Thomas, in the tenth and final round, who was the four time world champ and who was the club fighter as he put Thomas back in his place with accurate and hard combinations to seal the victory. Judges scored it 99-91, 98-92 and 99-91 in the ten round welterweight contest. Despite a clear victory, Guerrero appeared to be a shell of his former self and doesn’t appear capable of making another serious title run but rather only acting as a stepping stone for another PBC welterweight.
Top prospect, Joey Spencer (9-0, 7KO), put an impressive display of body punching with his third round knockout victory over Travis Gambardella (5-1-2, 2KO). In the first round, Spencer landed a thudding left hook to the liver that immediately floored Gambardella. Gambardella got up at the count of nine only to be floored again moments later with a right uppercut to the body. Spencer floored Gambardella again in the second round with another left hook to the liver in what seemed like should have ended the fight. Instead, Gambardella got up and endured heavy punishment for the rest of the round. Action slowed in the third round and then in a nonconsequential moment, the referee inexplicably stopped the fight in the third round despite Gambardella taking far worse punishment in the second round with no stoppage. There was little protest, however, as Gambardella was hopelessly behind and doing little to make a comeback. Time of the stoppage was 0:53 in the third round.
Jose Valenzuela (5-0, 2KO) made quick work out of Charles Clark (2-5-1, 1KO) with a blitzing first round knockout. Valenzuela landed a crushing right cross to the temple of Clark who sunk to the canvas leading the referee to not bother with a count. Time of the stoppage was 1:06 in the first round of a scheduled four round super featherweight bout.
Middleweight Misael Rodriguez (10-0, 5 KOs) out of Mexico showed a diverse arsenal of punches as he took the fight to Brandon Maddox (7-3-1, 5 KOs) of Detroit, MI from the get-go. Rodriguez, with famed trainer Robert Garcia in his corner, jumped on Maddox and landed multiple combinations to both the head and body of Maddox. Maddox did his best to counter the aggressive Rodriguez but to no avail. Maddox was backed up in his own corner in the 3rd round and taking heavy blows before the corner had seen enough and asked to stop the fight. The official time was 1:43 of the 3rd round as Rodriguez kept his undefeated record intact.
Welterweight Fabian Maidana (17-1, 13 KOs), from Argentina, and the younger brother of former WBA welterweight champion Marcos “El Chino” Maidana, came out on fire from the opening bell as he dropped Ramses Agaton (21-11-3, 11 KOs) with a straight right hand that put him on his back. Agaton quickly got to his feet, but after two more devastating knockdowns the fight was stopped. The official time was 2:07 of round 1.
Middleweight Leon Lawson III (12-0, 5 KOs) used his vicious jab and a big right hand to cruise to an easy win over Alan Zavala (15-6, 13 KOs). Lawson used the 1st round to find his range, but by the second, it was only a matter of time. Lawson landed a big overhand right to send Zavala against the ropes to open round two and patiently used a snapping jab to keep Zavala at bay. Zavala escaped the first onslaught, but Lawson put Zavala back in the corner and dropped bombs on the helpless Zavala. Zavala went down and made no attempt to get up as Lawson got the KO victory at 2:27 of the 2nd round. Lawson stayed undefeated with the impressive win.
Junior welterweight Amon Rashidi (7-1, 5 KOs), another one of Spence Jr. fighters, took on Alfonso Olvera(12-6-3, 4 KOs) in a contrast of styles. Rashidi tried to work inside as the lankier, talker Olvera stood tall and preferred to stay on the outside and use his long reach. Rashidi dropped some solid combos throughout the fight as the awkward Olvera countered with haymakers that found their mark. Olvera kept the pressure on Rashidi as neither fighter was hurt. In the end, the judges scored it 79-73 and 78-74 for Olvera as he earned the unanimous decision.
Dallas-Fort Worth featherweight’s Fernando Garcia (12-2, 7 KOs) and Tony Lopez (15-7, 6 KOs) went toe to toe over eight entertaining rounds. After the first couple of rounds, Lopez picked up the pace at the end of the 3rd round with a varied attack to the head and body of Garcia. Garcia countered with solid shots to the face. As the rounds went on, Lopez showed great ring generalship and constantly initiated the action, opening a cut on the nose of Garcia midway through the fight. Garcia showed great toughness and snapped the head back of Lopez in many heated exchanges, but in the end the busier Lopez pulled out the unanimous decision. The judges scored it 77-75 and 79-73 twice for Lopez.
In the opening bout of the mega unification bout between welterweight champions Errol Spence Jr. and Shawn Porter at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, super middleweight Burley Brooks (4-0, 4 KOs) destroyed Fabian Valdez (3-6) in the opening round with 4 knockdowns before the referee had seen enough and waved it off. The official time was 2:35 of the 1st round. Brooks, part of Errol Spence Man Down Promotions, dropped Valdez with body shots before finishing off with a left hand. Brooks remains undefeated with the win and earned his 4th knockout in his first four fights.