In the co-main event supporting the Davis vs. Garcia card, super middleweight David Morrell of Santa Clara, Cuba (9-0, 8 KOs) continued blazing his way up the ranks of his division with a stunning knockout win in a single round over Yamaguchi Falcao of Espirito Santo, Brazil (24-2-1, 10 KOs). Morrell successfully defended his WBC World Super Middleweight title.
The pair met at the center of the ring from the opening bell. Sparks flew. At first, Falcao was the aggressor. Morell caught Falcao with right hooks, throwing him against the ropes twice. Referee Celestino Ruiz called both knockdowns as the ropes held up Falcao. A hard right hook threw Falcao against the ropes, and Ruiz called the second knockdown. The final blow was a flush right hook, with Falcao falling to the canvas face first, out cold, and officially knocked out at 2:22 of the round. Falcao was able to leave the ring under his own power.
.@OsvaryJ's power is nothing to be played with 😱
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) April 23, 2023
Morrell Jr. landed 26 of 46 punches thrown (57%), with 22 of them power shots, against just 6 of 27 punches for the outgunned Falcao. “I'm so excited, it's a big moment for me, big night. It's incredible. I think it's my best moment. I want to face the best in the division,” said Morrell
Watching the fight ringside was WBC Super Middleweight champion David Benavidez. Told he was in the crowd, Morrell said, “He's next. Hey baby, that is who we want! I don't want any other guys at 168 pounds. Just Benavidez. I respect Benavidez and his team, but inside the ring I don't respect nothing.” Sign us up.
Cautious Chess Match Goes To Melikuziev
The rematch between Gabriel Rosado and Bektimir Melikuziev bore no resemblance to the thrilling three-round upset victory won by Rosado two years ago. Instead, the two super middleweights were content to feint, posture, and play games with each other as round by cautious round ticked off the clock.
Melikuziev of Uzbekistan (12-1, 9 KOs) got his payback, beating Rosado of Los Angeles (26-17-1, 15 KOs) by decision. Scores were all 99-91 in favor of “Bek the Bully.”
“This was the fight that I wanted, this was the fight I felt I made a mistake in the first one. This was my opportunity for revenge on such a big card. It was a pleasure for me,” said Melikuziev. Admitting he underestimated Rosado in the first bout, “This time working in camp we went through everything. The goal was to showcase my skills, just box, and punish him.”
Neither fighter wanted to draw the short straw and detonate a knockout bomb. The crowd made its feelings known about the lack of action by the two cautious fighters.
Melikuziev was getting the better of Rosado due to better accuracy and activity, but neither one set the punch count on fire. Melikuziev finally found a home for his straight left and occasionally good bodywork, which started backing Rosado up. Rosado attempted to go after Melikuziev, but the effort lacked heat or enthusiasm.
Rosado landed just 55 of 332 punches thrown (16.6%) against 153 of 354 (42%) for Melikuziev.
Rosado scored his opportunity to take the rematch with Melikuziev after his planned bout with light heavyweight Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez fell out when Ramirez couldn't make weight. Rosado now has four losses by decision since the win over Melikuziev, and admitted his career has ended.
“I tried, but I was a step behind. Father Time, 18 years as a pro, but I was game,” said Rosado. “I walked to him, I boxed him, I tried everything but I was a step too slow. I was a split-second behind. He's fresh, he's young and I'm happy for him. I knocked him out bad in the first fight and he made adjustments.”
“Now it's time to wrap it up and give my knowledge to younger fighters with management and training. I want to share my experience with them, and maybe do some more commentating.”
The 37-year-old veteran Rosado has faced many tough opponents and always given his crowd-pleasing best. He has promising opportunities in broadcasting and acting and he should follow them.
Elijah Garcia Grinds Out Win Against Kevin Salgado
Hoping to follow up his knockout victory in March with an equally impressive win Saturday, middleweight prospect Elijah Garcia of Phoenix (15-0, 12 KOs) got off to a slow start against Kevin Salgado of Mexico City (15-2-1, 10 KOs). Garcia dug in for the long haul against the durable Salgado, and ground out a unanimous decision win. Scorecards were 97-92 X 2 and a narrow 95-94 card from judge Patricia Morse Jarman. Garcia wins the WBC Latino Middleweight title. It was the first time Garcia had gone past six rounds.
“I was standing a little too still, trying to fight on the inside,” said Garcia after the bout. “He's really strong, really tough. I just had to move and box a little bit. It was a good hard 10 rounds. I give my opponent 100 percent props.”
Salgado said he felt he won by a small margin, and wished he'd had more time than three weeks to prepare.
The southpaw Salgado presented a puzzle to Garcia in early going, leading to an accidental headbutt to Garcia's nose in round three, causing bleeding. Sometimes it's the wake-up call a young fighter needs. Garcia's corner controlled any damage, and the 19-year-old increased the pace of his power punching effort to claw back the early rounds won on the cards by Salgado.
Robert Hoyle deducted a point from Salgado in round seven for low blows. At the end of the round when another Salgado punch strayed low, a frustrated Garcia responded in kind. “The referee kept getting in my way,” said Salgado. “I got a point deducted from me, but he didn't say anything when Garcia hit me in the back of the head. It's all just very sad.”
Garcia said he would keep working hard in the gym. “It feels great to get this win on a big stage. I feel like I'm getting better with each fight. I know I have a long way to go, but I like where I'm at. I'm hoping to get right back in the ring soon,” said Garcia.
Garcia landed 194 of 621 punches thrown (31%), Salgado landed 178 of 551 punches thrown (32%). Power punching was nearly even, 133 for Garcia and 139 for Salgado.
Garcia is exceptionally poised and states his goal is to become a world champion before he turns 21 years old in a little over a year. While his effort didn't bring fans to their feet, solid rounds against a durable veteran opponent are money in the bank for a talented prospect.