LOS ANGELES -- Heavyweight contender Luis "King Kong" Ortiz returned from a devastating knockout loss to author one of his own on Saturday night.
Ortiz drilled Razvan Cojanu in the second round in his first step toward earning another world title shot, winning on the Mikey Garcia-Robert Easter Jr. undercard at Staples Center.
Ortiz was fighting for the first time since losing an action-packed fight of the year contender to world titleholder Deontay Wilder on March 3 in Brooklyn, New York, where Ortiz got knocked down in the fifth round, nearly knocked Wilder out in the seventh round and then got brutally knocked out in the 10th round of a rousing fight that exceeded the ample expectations.
Ortiz (29-1, 25 KOs), 39, a Cuba native fighting out of Miami, Florida, had no such issues with Cojanu. After a slow first round in which they sized each other up, Ortiz got him in the second round and he got him good.
Ortiz, a southpaw, landed a right hook over the top to the side of the head, then nailed him with a straight left hand to the nose that dropped Cojanu, who was in bad shape. He nearly fell through the ropes, and as he tried to get up he fell down again, and referee Jerry Cantu waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 8 seconds.
At that point Ortiz, who has twice tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, did what he always does when he scores a knockout. He climbed the ring post and beat his chest like King Kong.
"In my mind, 'King Kong' has not been defeated. I don't feel I lost against Deontay Wilder," Ortiz said through a translator, despite the definitive nature of the knockout. "Those are things that my trainer and I have been practicing at the gym. I put into action the plan my trainer and I put together, and it worked flawlessly."
Former title challenger Cojanu (16-4, 9 KOs), 31, a native of Romania fighting out of Burbank, California, lost his second fight in a row. He was boxing for the first time since losing a unanimous decision to then-world titleholder Joseph Parker in May 2017.
Ortiz said he would like a title shot next. "I want to fight [unified titleholder Anthony] Joshua, but he only fights boxers he's sure he can defeat," Ortiz said. "I'm going to ask the government to put me on disability, maybe that way Joshua will fight me.
"Whatever comes next, I'm ready. I'll keep on going. I won't shy away from any challenge. I'm ready."
Barrios dominates, stops Roman
Junior welterweight prospect Mario Barrios had his way with Jose Roman, stopping him after the eighth round of a one-sided fight.
"Body work is something I've been able to work on," Barrios said. "You put the body work in early, and by the end of the fight they have nothing left. That worked perfectly for this fight. It was great work, and I feel like I'm transitioning to the fighter that I always thought I'd be.
"I feel I'm ready [for a title shot]. I feel strong. I feel fast. I'm young, but whatever my managers throw at me, I'm ready. If I could get it tomorrow, I'd take it."
Barrios, who is trained by Virgil Hunter, dominated the whole fight but really took over in the fourth round. He landed a right hand that staggered Roman and sent him reeling toward the ropes. Barrios followed with a series of punches, including a left hand that landed high on Roman's head and dropped him. Roman survived but took several more damaging punches in the final seconds of the round.
Barrios (22-0, 14 KOs), 23, of San Antonio, dropped Roman (24-3-1, 16 KOs), 30, of Garden Grove, California, again in the eighth round when he forced him to a corner and floored him under heavy fire. When the round was over, Roman's corner threw in the towel, giving Barrios his sixth stoppage victory in a row.
Barrios was ahead 80-70 on all three scorecards.
"I felt like it was a good fight and I was hanging in there the best I could, until that hit that took me down," Roman said. "My eye started flickering, and I couldn't see."
The rest of the undercard
The first six rounds were mostly a staring contest with virtually no action and with booing from the crowd, but junior welterweight Fabian Maidana (16-0, 12 KOs), 26, of Argentina, finally unleashed a heavy left hook in the seventh round to stop Andrey Klimov (20-5, 10 KOs), 36, of Russia. Maidana, the younger brother of former welterweight and junior welterweight world titlist Marcos Maidana, landed a right hand followed by a clean left hook to the chin, and Klimov went down to all fours. He beat the count, but as referee Ray Corona gave him the mandatory eight count, Klimov walked away and Corona stopped the fight at 2:32 of the round.
Junior lightweight prospect Karlos Balderas (6-0, 5 KOs), 22, a 2016 U.S. Olympian from Santa Maria, California, stopped Giovanni Caro (27-24-4, 21 KOs), 35, of Mexico, in the fourth round of a strong performance. Both fighters were shaken up by an accidental head butt in the third round, which left Caro bleeding from a cut on his forehead. In the fourth round, Balderas continued to attack Caro, eventually driving him into a corner and unleashing a flurry of punches, including head-snapping right hands and left hooks. Several of these shots hurt Caro, forcing referee Thomas Taylor to intervene at 2:09.
Bantamweight Jose Balderas (4-0, 0 KOs), 23, of Santa Maria, California, the older brother of 2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas, cruised to a shutout decision against Alfredo Chanez (6-6, 3 KOs), 28, of Mexico. All three judges scored the fight 40-35 for Balderas, who dropped Chavez with a right hand in the fourth round.
Lightweight Jerry Perez (8-0, 6 KOs), 25, of Oak Hills, California, dropped Cincinnati southpaw Aaron Hollis (4-7-2, KOs) three times en route to a second-round knockout. He floored Hollis, 30, in the first round and then twice more in the third round, both times with a left hook, prompting referee Jerry Cantu to wave it off at 1:34.
Lightweight Ray Perez (23-10, 7 KOs), 27, of the Philippines, upset Roberto Marroquin (27-5-1, 20 KOs), 28, a former junior featherweight world title challenger from Dallas, stopping him in the eighth and final round. Marroquin, returning from a nine-month layoff, and Perez went at it hard throughout the bout, but when Perez badly cut Marroquin's face in the final round, Marroquin's corner threw in the towel and referee Corona stopped it at 1:08.
Featherweight Louie Coria (9-1, 4 KOs), 19, of Moreno Valley, California, shut out Guadalupe Arroyo (3-13, 0 KOs), 27, of Huntington Beach, California, winning 60-54 on all three scorecards.
Heavyweight Brandon Ganton (7-0, 6 KOs), 26, of Riverside, California, stopped Daniel Najera (7-3-1, 3 KOs), 26, a southpaw from Mexico, at 1:35 of the third round of their scheduled six-rounder.
Junior welterweight Wesley Diana (6-0, 5 KOs), 19, of Las Vegas, easily outpointed Evincil Dixon (7-22-2, 2 KOs), 27, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, winning 40-36, 30-36 and 39-37.