Jermell Charlo took care of business in short order by scoring a third-round TKO of Jorge Cota on Sunday night at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, with a pair of booming right hands that sent the southpaw down to the canvas twice.
After some early difficulties in which Charlo (32-1, 16 KOs) had problems deciphering the awkward style of the lanky left-hander from Mexico, the former WBC 154-pound titlist stepped into range in the third round with a short looping punch that sent Cota down. It was no flash knockdown, as Cota was certainly hurt, but the fight was allowed to continue by referee Jay Nady after he took the mandatory eight count.
But shortly thereafter, Charlo struck Cota with a picture-perfect straight right that sent him down again. At this point it was clear that the fight should be waved off.
Charlo was originally scheduled to face Tony Harrison, who defeated him in December in a controversial decision. But in early June, Harrison (who now holds the WBC junior middleweight title) pulled out of the contest with an ankle injury and it was Cota who got the call to replace him on late notice.
"I want to give a thank you and a congratulations to Jorge Cota, he took the defeat, but he stepped in the ring," Charlo said. "The guy that proclaims the title backed out the fight and he's the one who stepped in the ring as fast as he did."
In attendance was Harrison, and the always boisterous and brash Charlo had this message for him: "I'm a much better fighter, like I said; he's lucky he didn't accept the fight with me, this time."
Rigondeaux KO's Ceja in eventful eighth round
In the past, Guillermo Rigondeaux has been accused of being a boring boxer, much more effective than entertaining, but that certainly wasn't the case Sunday as he scored an exciting eighth-round TKO of the rugged Julio Ceja.
Rigondeaux (19-1, 13 KO's), who is normally a master boxer, uncharacteristically stood his ground from the very beginning of the fight and was willing to bang away against Ceja (32-4, 28 KOs) on the inside. While Rigondeaux certainly landed his share of sharp left hands from his southpaw stance, there was a heavy price to pay for his strategy, as he was touched up often by the two-fisted attack of Ceja, who landed a multitude of left hooks to the body and right hands over the top.
The pace throughout was quick and the two-way action never let up. Late in the sixth frame, Rigondeaux was stunned by a left uppercut from Ceja, who then carried that momentum into the seventh round, where he outworked the Cuban stylist, who looked to be fading a bit.
The eighth round was an eventful one, as it saw both fighters get docked a point for low blows. It was Rigondeaux who suddenly turned the tide near the end of the round, with a booming left hand that sent Ceja crashing to the canvas. While Ceja did rise to his feet, the bout was waved off by referee Russell Mora at 2 minutes, 59 seconds of the round.