Austin Trout defeats Luis Grajeda

TEMECULA, California -- This time around there would be no surprises for former junior middleweight titlist Austin Trout.

Four months after he was dropped twice by Daniel Dawson before rallying to snap a two-fight losing skid, Trout completely outclassed Luis Grajeda on Thursday night at the Pechanga Resort and Casino.

Grajeda's corner called a halt to the bout before the start of Round 8 to give Trout (28-2, 15 KOs) his first victory by stoppage since 2011.

"Going to train in Barry Hunter's gym for this fight was a game-changer for me," Trout said. "The sparring was excellent. I was able to work on my full arsenal, including going to the body more, which is something we worked on there.

"I sparred with everyone who was in the gym, particularly [junior welterweight titlist] Lamont Peterson, who was a big help to me."

Although the southpaw Trout, 29, was hesitant in the early going, he controlled the action throughout by focusing almost exclusively on the body. The native of Las Cruces, New Mexico, floored Grajeda (17-4-2, 13 KOs) following a combination along the ropes in Round 5.

From there, Trout stepped up his level of activity and went after Grajeda, who was relegated to survival mode as Trout landed one clean left hand to the head after another. Grajeda, in fact, abandoned any semblance of offense whatsoever after the first few rounds.

Trout has won two straight fights after dropping a pair of high-profile 2013 fights to Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara.

"Going forward I'd like to either avenge my losses or fight for a world title," Trout said. "Anyone at 154 who has got a belt is who I want to fight."

Tarver finishes off Banks

If the first six rounds of the heavyweight co-main event between Antonio Tarver and Johnathon Banks were enough to cause drowsiness for those in attendance, Round 7 proved to be quite a wake-up call.

Tarver (31-6, 22 KOs), 46, broke open a frustrating bout almost completely void of action by flooring and eventually stopping Banks as referee Jack Reiss called the fight off at 2:25.

The victory was the third for Tarver, the former light heavyweight champion, after moving up to heavyweight. He opened Round 7 with a series of flush left hands to the face of Banks (29-3-1, 19 KOs) before dropping the Detroit native with an overhand left along the ropes.

Banks, 32, who acts as the head trainer for heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, was able to regain his form despite being visibly hurt. But Tarver swooped in with combinations to force the stoppage while Banks was still on his feet.

The victory was Tarver's first appearance since a November 2013 win over Mike Sheppard.

"Five fights in six years won't cut it, I need to be much more active," Tarver said. "I want to fight again in the first quarter of 2015. I want to fight David Haye. Absolute, 100 percent, because that sets up the Wladimir Klitschko fight if I beat Haye."

Escandon wins interim title by split decision

It was Tyson Cave's slickness against Oscar Escandon's pressure. And in the end, the judges preferred the fighter coming forward.

Escandon (23-0, 15 KOs) kept his foot on the gas pedal throughout to claim a split-decision victory, earning him an interim junior featherweight title by scores of 117-111, 113-115 and 115-113. ESPN.com scored the bout 115-113 in favor of Cave.

A native of Nova Scotia, the southpaw Cave (22-3, 6 KOS) used his length and awkward style to switch stances throughout and consistently make the 30-year-old Escandon miss. But it was Escandon's work rate, along with his mixture of body shots and clean, hard counter hooks upstairs, that gave him the advantage on two of the scorecards.

Cave, 33, was animated in circling backward throughout the final round, trash-talking Escandon and boasting to press row after the final bell. But the crowd erupted after the scorecards were read as a dejected Cave instantly left the ring and walked back to the dressing room.

Gausha knocks out Vila

After a slow start, middleweight prospect Terrell Gausha saved his best for last.

The 2012 U.S. Olympian finished off a determined Cesar Vila in the eighth and final round with a four-punch combination that brought an end to what was a rousing toe-to-toe fight.

Gausha (13-0, 7 KOs) floored Vila, who fell flat on his back with his arms stretched out. But referee Jack Reiss instantly waved off the bout without a count just as Vila (7-2, 3 KOs) began to sit up, causing a series of boos from the crowd.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Vila gave Gausha all he could handle by switching stances and coming forward from start to finish. Gausha, of Cleveland, was continually backed to the ropes, but began to establish more control in the second half of the fight by countering with clean hooks.