ARLINGTON, Texas -- Former super middleweight world titlist David Benavidez ended a frustrating 13 months with a one-sided, second-round demolition of J'Leon Love in the Errol Spence Jr.-Mikey Garcia co-feature on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium.
"It's a dream come true to fight on this stage in front of these fans. These fans give me the motivation to get up every day and go the extra mile," Benavidez said. "I expected to knock him out, but when I hit him with the first good shot, I knew he wasn't going to last. I tried to pace myself, but it wasn't necessary tonight."
Benavidez nearly ended the fight in the first round as he battered Love with abandon even though he didn't knock him down. Love took many clean shots and was rocked.
Benavidez didn't let up in the second round, eventually staggering Love with a right and a left along the ropes and a few more shots for good measure as referee Laurence Cole was stepping in to stop it at 1 minute, 14 seconds.
"He was getting his shots off, but I don't think I was taking too much punishment," Love said. "I wasn't out of the game completely, but he did catch me with a good shot."
During the past year, Benavidez (21-0, 18 KOs), 22, of Phoenix, was stripped of his world title and suspended for testing positive for cocaine in a random drug test last summer. He also signed a promotional contract extension with Sampson Lewkowicz, but then signed another promotional contract with Top Rank and took a $250,000 signing bonus, which was about to make for legal mess until Benavidez gave the money back to Top Rank, apologized and returned to Lewkowicz.
Now, seemingly back on track, Benavidez likely earned a shot at titleholder Anthony Dirrell (33-1-1, 24 KOs), who was ringside and recently won the vacant belt that was stripped from Benavidez. Benavidez was supposed make a mandatory defense against Dirrell before he was stripped.
"I saw Anthony Dirrell with the WBC belt. He can't call himself champion until he fights me," Benavidez said. "That's my belt. I'm going to go get it. It's mine."
Love (24-3-1, 13 KOs), 31, of Las Vegas, lost his second fight in a row, having dropped a lopsided decision loss to former middleweight titlist Peter Quillin in August.
Nery dominates Arroyo
Former bantamweight world titlist Luis Nery made an impressive United States debut as he notched his 10th consecutive knockout, stopping former junior bantamweight world titlist McJoe Arroyo in the fifth round.
Nery was very aggressive from the outset, forcing Arroyo back with solid punches. He dropped Arroyo (18-3, 8 KOs), 33, a southpaw from Puerto Rico, to a knee with a short left hand in the second round, but Arroyo did not appear hurt and quickly got up. Nery knocked him down again late in the third round with a right hand to the body. In the fourth round, Nery dropped him two more times in an utterly one-sided fight.
After the fourth round, Arroyo's corner said he could not continue, and referee Laurence Cole stopped the fight 10 seconds into the fifth round.
"I'm happy to start on the right foot here in my U.S. debut and show everyone I'm still the best [at bantamweight]," Nery said through a translator. "We're going to train hard, and hopefully by June, we'll have the belt back."
Nery (29-0, 23 KOs), 24, of Mexico, lost his world title last March on the eve of his rematch with former titlist Shinsuke Yamanaka because he failed to make weight. He knocked out Yamanaka in the second round and was later suspended for missing weight by the WBC. He returned in October and has won all three of his fights since.
"At the end of the day, I'm still healthy. I never felt like I was dazed or anything, they were just hard punches," Arroyo said. "I went down but got right back up. If it were up to me, I'd have kept going. I have to respect my opponent. This isn't the end of my career. I've seen him fight before, but I was surprised by his power. It was his night."
Arreola drills Augustin
Former three-time heavyweight world title challenger Chris Arreola, hoping for yet another opportunity, crushed Jean Pierre Augustin by third-round knockout in the opening bout of the pay-per-view broadcast.
Arreola (38-5-1, 33 KOs), 38, of Riverside, California, rocked Augustin with a right hand early in the third round. Moments later, he dropped him with a combination. There was still more than a minute left in the round and Arreola was all over Haiti native Augustin (17-1-1, 12 KOs), 31. Arreola was pounding him with shots, forcing referee Neal Young step in and stop the fight at 2 minutes, 3 seconds.
"Augustin is a hungry kid who tried to make a name off of me. I lose and I'm out, but I'm not going out," Arreola said. "I touched him a couple of times and saw he was hurt. I stayed calm, and the stoppage came. I love fighting. We're both were trying to beat the crap out of each other, and I love it. I'm blessed to be a fighter."
Augustin's nine-fight winning streak, all by knockout, came to an end against the first name opponent of his career. "Every fighter feels like they can continue, but it is what it is, it's out of my control," Augustin said. "I was more stunned than hurt, but he jumped on me and finished. I felt like I could have done better as the fight went on, but there's not much I could do when the ref jumped in."
Arreola has fought for a heavyweight world title three times but got knocked out each time -- by Vitali Klitschko in 2009, by Bermane Stiverne in their 2014 rematch and by Deontay Wilder in 2016. After a nearly 2½-year retirement, Arreola returned for a sixth-round, knockout win over Maurenzo Smith on Dec. 1 on the Wilder-Tyson Fury undercard and won the second fight of his comeback.
Martin wins by DQ
Former heavyweight world titleholder Charles Martin defeated Gregory Corbin by eighth-round disqualification because Corbin continually threw low blows.
Martin (26-2-1, 23 KOs), 32, of Carson, California, steadily won round after round with a measured attack, but he also was aided by Corbin's inability to throw punches above the belt.
In the fourth round, referee Mark Calo-oy penalized Corbin one point for a low blow. He took another point from him for another one in the fifth round.
Corbin (15-1, 9 KOs), 38, of Dallas, flirted with disqualification in the sixth round when he went low again and was docked a third point. And when he landed yet another low blow in the eighth round, Calo-oy disqualified him at 53 seconds.
"I don't think he really wanted to fight," Martin said. "He wanted to hit me low and see how much he could get away with. I could sense that he didn't want to engage anymore. We're going to get back in camp, take a few days off and then get back to work. We're staying busy in 2019."
Corbin said he thought he was landing legal punches.
"I thought I was hitting him on the belt. We wanted to go to the body," Corbin said. "I thought he was tired. I hurt him once, but the low blows did it for me. It's two steps back anytime you lose, so it's back to the drawing board. I'll be back, though."
Martin was on his way to an easy win. According to CompuBox, he outlanded Corbin 108-26.
Martin won a vacant belt in 2016 and lost the title in his first defense three months later when Anthony Joshua destroyed him in two rounds. Martin took a year off after the loss, returned for two wins over journeymen opponents before losing a 10-round decision to contender Adam Kownacki in his previous fight in September but bounced back against Corbin.
More undercard results
Junior welterweight Lindolfo Delgado (9-0, 9 KOs), 24, a 2016 Mexican Olympian, destroyed James Roach (5-2, 5 KOs), 26, of Grove, Oklahoma, in a first-round, knockout win. Delgado hammered Roach until dropping him with a left hook to the ribs for referee Calo-oy's full count at 2 minutes, 59 seconds.
Cruiserweight Marsellos Wilder (4-1, 2 KOs), 29, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the younger brother of heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder, stopped Mark Sanchez (0-3), 31, of Midland, Texas, in the first round. Wilder was coming off his first loss on Jan.26 but was matched very softly against Sanchez, who has lost all three of his fights by first-round knockout. Wilder took it to him immediately and was pounding him with punches when referee Calo-oy stopped it at 1 minute, 29 seconds.
Featherweight Fernando Garcia (12-0, 7 KOs), 31, of Dallas, mowed down Marlon Olea (14-5, 12 KOs), 24, of Colombia, with a fifth-round right hand to the body. Olea went down to a knee and took the full count at 2 minutes, 50 seconds.
Bantamweight Jesse Rodriguez (9-0, 5 KOs), of San Antonio, stopped Rauf Aghayev (26-7, 11 KOs), of Azerbaijan, at 2 minutes, 50 seconds of the third round.
Junior middleweight Thomas Hill (8-2, 1 KOs), of Milwaukee, won an unusual split decision over Limberth Ponce (17-4, 10 KOs), of Rock Island, Illinois. Two judges scored it for Hill, a 60-54 shutout and 58-56, and one judge had it 60-54 for Ponce.
Bantamweight Aaron Morales (6-0, 3 KOs), of Oklahoma City, scored a second-round knockdown and cruised past Fernando Robles (2-1, 0 KOs), of McAllen, Texas, winning 60-53, 59-54 and 59-54.
Cruiserweight Adrian Taylor (9-1, 4 KOs), of Mesquite, Texas, outboxed William Deets (7-13, 3 KOs), of Kearney, Nebraska, winning 40-36, 39-37 and 39-37.
Lightweight Luis Coria (11-2, 6 KOs), of Moreno Valley, California, blew through Omar Garcia (6-8, 1 KO), of Mexico, stopping him 53 seconds into the second round.
Cruiserweight Burley Brooks (1-0, 1 KO), of Dallas, dropped Randy Mast (1-1, 0 KOs), of Springfield, Missouri, in the first round and got the stoppage moments later at 1 minute, 16 seconds.
Junior bantamweight Robert Rodriguez (3-0, 0 KOs), of San Antonio, routed Fernando Ibarra (0-1), of Fairfield, California, winning a decision via scores of 40-36, 40-36 and 39-37.