Alexis Rocha Stops Blair Cobbs, Xander Zayas Star Shines Bright In NYC
Berlanga Goes 10
ESPN Main Card
Is super middleweight Edgar Berlanga ready for MSG? After his bout against Steve Rolls it looks as though June at The Garden could be next, but Berlanga still doesn’t seem to be the same guy, who used to charge opponents in the first round as the tricky Rolls proved a hard target, and Berlanga continues to offer more questions than answers at this point.
“The Monster” as Berlanga is nicknamed has a three-headed monster of a coaching staff of Andre Rozier, Mickey Bey, and Kay Koroma. As well documented, Berlanga started his career with 16 straight first round KOs, that also got him on TV, and made him a thing – because that is awesome. Then, Berlanga had two decision wins, and the world seemingly went crazy, in those two decisions, he got dropped with a flash knock down. This performance extended the decision streak to three.
In the main event, Berlanga for the second straight fight didn’t drop his opponent. The issue… it looks like he is thinking about what to do a lot in the ring, and to a degree some of the confidence his historic streak built within himself might now be working against him.
Simply put, Berlanga didn’t punch enough, starting with the jab, and the biggest issue was every punch seemingly came at the same speed. Rolls fought the perfect fight, but waa undersized, and gave Berlanga fits.
The problem with Berlanga I think now begins with this. Who is the voice of his camp moving forward.
Where does Berlanga go from here: I think the logical next step is like I said taking on the burden of promoting a fight at The Garden in June, but the opponent will be vital. Berlanga is ranked #6 by the WBO in super middleweight, and Canelo might vacate those belts by that time period or some type of #1 contendership could occur. The big thing will be the match-ups moving forward.
The big thing is Berlanga is a victim of his own success. He now has the spotlight off something that was great, but with every performance that doesn’t live up to his own standards, he will feel more and more pressure.
The co-main event, 154 lbs stud Xander Zayas got the superstar treatment on the telecast as he was shown walking from the back to the ring, not unlike Conor McGregor when he fought on FOX before becoming a PPV, mega-star, as got an eight-round decision over Quincy LaVallais, a tough fighter, who was not just there to challenge, but not be stopped. Zayas hit LaVallais with everything, but a foreign object, but LaVallais refused to go down, despite a sensational second round that saw Zayas throw a Hector Camacho Jr.-like combo, created the first of many Zayas moments at MSG, LaVallais never went down. Zayas is trending towards being very special, and beyond that – how likable is, possibly the most likable in the sport as a whole. A worthy feature star of the sport, who conducts himself like a champ in-and-out of the ring.
Zayas got the loudest cheers of the night, and has a bit of the “Tito” Trinidad magic that I saw tonight with how he connects with the fans.
The ESPN TV opener saw 140 lber John Bauza, who is undefeated get tested by Tony Luis. Bauza was tested, but got the decision, scores were a little wide, but this was a developmental fight against a game opponent, which could lead to a break through in future fights, as Luis is a formidable foe, for any, and all.
One of our favorites, welterweight Jahi Tucker got a six-round decision over Tracey McGruder. Tucker is a special fighter, who has a lot of offensive talent.
130 lber Henry Lebron stopped Josec Ruiz in seven rounds.
Featherweight Bruce Carrington from nearby Brooklyn, New York, Brownsville, to be exact, continues to look like a million bucks, a he stopped a tough veteran Yeuri Andujar in the fifth round of a six round bout. Carrington looks to be the next Top Rank east coast star, once he gets into the ten-round tier. Beyond that, Carrington is grounded and not rushing the process, as he wants to be in six-round bouts for a bit. Carrington’s reflexes are amazing, and jump out as not normal, and worthy of paying to see.
140 lber Armani Almestica, a decorated amateur, got a KO win over Luis Valentin Portalatin. Almestica now has started his career with five straight KOs.
At a 144 lbs weight limit “Big Kelv”, Kelvin Davis, the eldest brother of the Davis brothers stopped Phillip Carmouche in the first round.
Rocha Gets The Last Laugh
Welterweight Alexis Rocha was quiet all week, but silenced Blair Cobbs, on Saturday night, as the fight was promoted to the main event status after Vergil Ortiz’s medical condition, and saw Rocha get the biggest win of his career. The stand-out moment Rocha dropped Cobbs in the eighth round with an eye-catching display, as the hop-in, hop-out style of Cobbs makes for each damaging blow to look even worse, when they land.
Rocha waited out Cobbs early, and Rocha put a ton of pressure on Cobbs, who has a style that is based around untraditional techniques, that are flashy, but deeply flawed, as Cobbs got tired and got beat up. Rocha threw about 20 punches in the stoppage which was in the ninth round, shown above.
Rocha now only has one career loss to Rashidi “Speedy” Ellis, a fighter also deserving of a chance against a top fighter, but Rocha now has earned his way back to the top of the division. For Cobbs, he was very loud before this bout, and now has to rethink where he is going – and what he wants from the sport. As he left this fight battered and bruised.
A great main event.
The co-main saw Michael McKinson get boo’ed loudly as his spoiler style was on display against Alex Martin, a late-replacement of a late-replacement. McKinson, a southpaw, who throws awkward unpleasing punches with the point of scoring points, and not to KO, did not win many fans in L.A., who love the pressure fighting aggressive fighters, that are often marketed in this region. A rough watch, and one that almost makes you feel glad for McKinson, who would’ve had to face one of the biggest punchers in the sport, Vergil Ortiz, prior to Ortiz being pulled for medical reasons.
The return of Bektemir “Bek The Bully” Melikuziev, the light heavyweight Gabe Rosado brutally knocked out last summer, returned to stop David Zegarra in two rounds with a brutal body shot.
In the DAZN opener, Parlier, California’s Evan Sanchez, a six-foot-tall, welterweight with model looks, and KO power, got a six-round decision over Alejandro Munera, winning every round. More so, Sanchez dropped Munera
Alex Rincon got a second-round KO over Luis Midyael Sanchez. Rincon got two knockdowns in the second round bout, shoutout to Lamont Roach Sr., who coaches Rincon. The ref should not have allowed Sanchez to get up from the first knockdown. It was cruel seeing Sanchez get stopped after being out of it.
118 lbs. John “Scrappy” Ramirez won a six-round decision over a battle-tested veteran Roberto Pucheta.
Golden Boy seems to have some high hopes on Alejandro Reyes, a power puncher, who is all-gas, no brakes, but might have to improve on his defense for the world level. He won an offensive six-round bout on the prelims.
140 lber Miguel Gaona stopped Gilberto Aguilar in mere seconds. Gaona trained by Joel Diaz in Indio, California swarmed Aguilar, who put himself in the corner, and then in further trouble but just shelling up.
Hawaii’s Dalis Kaleiopu got a fourth-round stoppage over Manuel Lara. The bout was a tough watch, but got a good outcome for Kaleiopu, a former Olympic Trials contestant, who is signed to Golden Boy Promotions. The year lay-off seemed to play a factor in this performance, and making 132 lbs. at 5’11” might have played a role in this as he looked very skinny in the ring. That being said Lara hadn’t been stopped often, and Kaleiopu did it.
2020 Olympian Ramla Ali, got her first stoppage of her career, sure her opponent was outgunned, but Ali showed improvements that you want to see from someone who has hopes of being a world champion.
Ng Gets DQ’ed
Jacob Ng, the only Australian who rivals George Kambosos Jnr for more tattoos, lost via disqualification over the weekend to Billy Dib. The bout saw an evenly, and entertaining bout go south after Ng slammed Dib to the ground. Dib couldn’t continue forcing the DQ.
Chon Zepeda Wins
Jose Zepeda got a second round KO from a body shot as he looks to fight for a world title in his next bout.
2 Probellum Shows
Probellum did two shows in Dubai, on back-to-back days as night one saw Estelle Mossley win a split decision over Yanina del Carmen Lescano for the IBO 135 lbs. title. Mossley appeared to win quite clearly on my card, as the split felt more like one outlier judge than reality.
Friend of the program, O’Shaquie Foster is now the #1 contender for the WBC 130 lbs title, which should have him face Robson Conceicao, who recently beat Xavier Martinez, as Foster picked up a win over Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov. Foster dropped Yaqubov in round three and won a wide decision. Bobby Benton was in Foster’s corner.
130 lbs Jono Carroll is inching towards a title shot as he stopped undefeated Patrick Ayi Aryee in four rounds. Carroll is pressure, pressure, and more pressure. A high work rate, and a big personality.
2020 super heavyweight gold medalist Bakhodir Jalolov picked up fifth-round TKO over an outgunned opponent. Jalolov in his tenth pro fight is now a ten-round fighter, and won each fight by way of KO.
IBF flyweight world champion Sunny Edwards road out a late surge from Muhammad Waseem to get a 12-round decision in the main event of a Probellum show in Dubai. Edwards, a great boxer, has star-power, and a willingness to fight any-and-all. Edwards is a lower-weight fighter worth watching. Edwards has personality in and out of the ring.
The most notable bout was 140 lber Regis Prograis getting a technical knockout as Tyronne McKenna was stopped due to a cut in the sixth round. The outcome was never in doubt as Prograis knocked off rust dropping McKenna in round two, and stopping him later, as it was a one-sided affair, that showed McKenna’s toughness, and Prograis’ power. After the fight, Prograis called out Jack Catterall, who was broadcasting the bout. With the win, Prograis secures a form of a WBC world title shot in the future.
TJ Doheny made short work of Cesar Juarez stopping him in two rounds, showing that Doheny might just have another title run in him.
Peter McGrail got a stoppage and wants to move fast. I’ll be honest, I just don’t see it with McGrail, but a lot of people from the U.K. love him, and I am wrong all the time, as British fight fans have dubbed McGrail as Lomachenko-esque, I just worry about his ability to adjust at the next level when fighters match his physical attributes which currently are giving him a big edge.
Hovhannes Bachkov got an 8th round knockout win as the 140 lber, continues his march towards a high-level world-ranked fighter. Bachkov was one of my favorites from the lightweight weight class at the 2020 Olympics and reminds me of a more exciting Arthur Abraham, who should be in a lot of fun fights at the highest level.
Tom Loeffler’s St Patty’s Day Card
Cem Kilic got a second-round KO of Antonio Louis Hernandez. Kilic has been featured on ShoBox a few times.
Wildcard’s Marco Deckmann stopped Victor Fonseca in four rounds. Deckmann is a cruiserweight who is trained out of the famed Hollywood boxing gym.
Adrian Corona and Joe Perez fought to a six-round draw, in a close fight. Wouldn’t mind a rematch
Callum Walsh, a 154 lbs Irish fighter, out of the Wild Card, got a first-round KO, and looked like a million bucks. Walsh is the guy leaving this card with the most momentum.
Kenshiro Teraji stopped Masamichi Yabuki to win the WBC light flyweight title. Super deep-dive for y’all, thanks Abe G. of NYFights.com.
David Avanesyan stopped Oskari Metz in one round over in the U.K. I hope Avanesyan gets a big fight soon.
MMA in 500 Words Or Less
UFC heavyweight Tom Aspinall brought pride to his home country as he submitted Alexander Volkov via an armlock in the first round. Aspinall left the arena to cheers and drinking beers from the fans. What a guy – Aspinall wants UFC heavyweight Tai Tuivasa next.
Arnold Allen knocked out Dan Hooker in the first round. This was as good as Arnold Allen ever looked, and sadly like a good portion of Hooker’s UFC career, he will yet again be a very good fighter getting stopped in someone’s highlight package to promote an upcoming fight.
Paddy Pimblett has the traits of Conor McGregor in terms of personality, and zaniness, I just don’t see the talent component, yet. That being said, Pimblett won a via first-round submission over Kazula Vargas. He was called out earlier in the night by Ilia Topuria who stopped Jai Herbert by KO in the second round. Make that fight next, please.
Women’s flyweight Molly McCann knocked out Luana Carolina in a highlight-reel fashion with a spinning back elbow. McCann also has a larger than life persona, and though limited has the type of persona MMA fans seem to love. A quirky brute.
Gunnar Nelson got a rather boring decision over Takashi Sato.
Paul Craig got an amazing submission win over Nikita Krylov in the first-round.