Top featherweight prospect Oscar Valdez stops Chris Avalos in 5th round

LAS VEGAS -- Featherweight Oscar Valdez, one of boxing's best prospects, put on a devastating display against Chris Avalos en route to a fifth-round knockout Friday night at The Cosmopolitan.

Headlining Top Rank's truTV series, Valdez (17-0, 15 KOs) stalked Avalos (26-4, 19 KOs) with his left hook and eventually got him with it -- several times.

Valdez's left hook, hand speed and counterpunching were the difference. In a fast-paced fight, he hit Avalos with many solid hooks before Avalos seemed to know what hit him.

"Everything we did in the gym worked perfectly," Valdez said. "We knew counters would work with him. I had no problems at all. The key to the fight was the jab, counterpunching and my left hook."

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who is very high on Valdez as a prospect, said he loved what he saw.

"He's gonna be really good," Arum said. "That left hook Valdez has is lethal. He can take a good punch. We really have high hopes for him. He was in with a really tough guy."

Arum went on to say that Valdez and two other highly touted 2012 Olympians signed by Top Rank -- lightweight Felix Verdejo and junior welterweight Jose Ramirez -- are "going to be absolute stars."

Moments before the end of the third round, Valdez, who showed some swelling around his left eye, caught Avalos with a left hook that staggered him. Avalos took a step back and went down on a delayed reaction.

Valdez, 24, a two-time Mexican Olympian, landed another hard left hook at the end of the fourth round, and while it did not knock Avalos down, it sent him back to the corner wobbling.

Avalos, 25, of Lancaster, California, was still shaky in the fifth round. When Valdez landed another hard hook, Avalos was wobbled again, and referee Russell Mora stepped in a waved off the fight at 1 minute, 17 seconds.

"He kept countering me. I couldn't stop it," Avalos said.

In his two fights leading up to Friday, Avalos traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland, to challenge junior featherweight titleholder Carl Frampton and got knocked out in the fifth round of a one-sided fight in February before rebounding with a win on Aug. 1.

"Chris fights for us also, but he wanted to prove himself after the defeat to Frampton," Arum said. "It was a good crossroads fight for them -- a good step-up fight for Valdez, and Avalos, you got to go back to the drawing board."

Valdez was coming off a one-sided 10-round decision win against countryman Ruben Tamayo in his HBO debut June 27 in the network's 1,000th fight, but he was much more dynamic against Avalos.

"That's the best I've ever seen him," said Frank Espinoza, Valdez's manager. "He looked sensational. He boxed, used his jab and knocked him out."

Hart crushes Pryor Jr.

In a match between boxing offspring, Philadelphia super middleweight prospect Jesse Hart, one of Top Rank's best up-and-coming fighters, thrashed Aaron Pryor Jr. en route to a one-sided ninth-round knockout in the co-feature.

Hart (18-0, 15 KOs), the son of 1970s middleweight contender Eugene "Cyclone" Hart, battered Pryor (19-9-1, 12 KOs), the son of Hall of Fame former junior welterweight champion Aaron Pryor, in every round.

Hart, 26, went right at Pryor, 37, of Cincinnati, in the first round and manhandled him. He backed Pryor into the ropes with powerful right hands throughout a round that was so one-sided it could have been scored 10-8 even though Hart did not score a knockdown.

Hart dominated round after round. While Pryor barely threw punches, Hart repeatedly hurt him with solid right hands and left hooks.

After the seventh round, Pryor's corner told him they were going to stop the fight unless he showed them something. Hart continued to dole out a beating. In the ninth round, he ravaged Pryor with a series of unanswered punches along the ropes, and referee Tony Weeks finally stepped in and stopped it at 2 minutes, 51 seconds.

"You have to keep your composure when you have an opponent like that," said Hart, who is trained by his father. "He was grabbing and holding me and not fighting. I thought my body shots broke him down."