INDIO, Calif., December 13, 2019 – Challenger Brad Solomon walked out to the 1979 disco classic “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now,” circa 1979 by McFadden and Whitehead. It was the last moment Solomon was in the groove at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino Friday night.
Vergil Ortiz Jr. of Grand Prairie, Texas sealed his bid as 2019 Prospect of the Year, staying unbeaten with a fifth-round knockout win over Solomon. Ortiz Jr. (15-0, 15 KOs) also maintains a 100 percent knockout rate with the Win over the veteran Solomon of Lafayette, Louisiana (28-2, 9 KOs) and retains the WBA Gold Welterweight title.
The 21-year-old Ortiz Jr. invested early and often to the body of Solomon. Every punch Ortiz Jr. throws hurts. Credit to Solomon, he took them and isn’t afraid to mix it up. Solomon connected to Ortiz Jr., but he doesn’t have the firepower to slow the Texan down much.
Ortiz Jr. caught Solomon with a hard straight left, forcing Solomon to sit down hard on the canvas. Later, Ortiz Jr. said “I think I tripped him, I’m not going to lie. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think he was hurt.”
But it didn’t matter, as it opened the door for Ortiz Jr. to go to work. Solomon resisted as long as he could, but Ortiz Jr. used his superior ring generalship to pin Solomon where he wanted him, and engaged in target practice. Credit to Solomon for toughing it out as long as he did.
“I got to give him some credit, he was pretty difficult to figure out. he kept me at bay,” said Ortiz Jr. “He really made me use my brain. I think I had to utilize my jab, but more importantly, I had to figure out the range. He was leaning forward, leaning back. I had to use my smarts and range. You know I just took my time in there. I tried not to rush things.”
In the fifth round, Ortiz Jr. landed a right hand, followed with a barrage of punches. Solomon was down – for real, this time. He beat the count, but Ortiz Jr. would not let him escape. He pinned Solomon in the corner and had Solomon down again. This time, referee Raul Caiz Sr. waved off the count, ending the fight for Ortiz. Jr. at 2:22 of the round.
Ortiz Jr. said of the first knockdown of the fifth and final round, “Right there I was thinking, ‘I shouldn’t be really be chasing him on the ropes like that” … “Luckily I did, I threw the right punch. I knew he was going to be a tough cookie to break. Luckily I have a good team behind me, and all my smarts.” said Ortiz Jr.
“I felt like I was very patient. I knew I had to pick it up somehow, I can’t lay low. I feel like I did a good job. I would say, high B or A on this one,” concluded Ortiz Jr.
Ortiz Jr. has passed all his tests in 2019
Let’s remind ourselves, Ortiz Jr. is just 21 years old. He has the poise, patience, and focus in the ring of a much more mature fighter. He’s knocked out three veterans in succession who have never been stopped before: Mauricio Herrera, Antonio Orozco, and now Brad Solomon. Cynics can call them past their prime, but it’s still an accomplishment worth noting. Repeat: he’s 21 years old.
Ortiz Jr. says he’s set his sights on a dream fight with Errol Spence Jr., but at super welterweight. At the rate Ortiz Jr. is progressing, imagine how good he’ll be in another year. Sweet Science Santa, we’ve been very good. Bring us an all-Texas showdown between Ortiz Jr. and Spence Jr. someday.
Alberto Machado enjoys successful lightweight debut
Former super featherweight champion Alberto “Explosivo” Machado of Puerto Rico (22-2, 18 KOs) began his campaign in the lightweight division with a second-round knockout win over Luis Porozo of Ecuador (14-2, 7 KOs). Porozo looked like he might make it a long night for Machado, buzzing him early in the first round. Machado didn’t panic. He showed his pedigree, gathered his wits, and turned the tide in round two with three successive body shot knockdowns. The last one stuck for the knockout at 2:59 of the round.
Alberto Machado doesn’t have the strongest chin, but fortunately, he can rely on his offense to also play the role of defense in his case. Frequently, Machado’s power gets him out of trouble.
Bektemir Melikuziev goes the distance to win against Vaughn Alexander
Super middleweight Bektemir Melikuziev of Uzbekistan (4-0. 3 KOs) won the vacant WBA Continental Americas title against veteran Vaughn “Da Animal” Alexander of St. Louis (15-4, 9 KOs). The 23-year-old Melikuziev went the distance against the durable Alexander in his first pro bout in his adopted home town by unanimous decision. Scores were 100-90 on all three cards. Alexander, brother of Devon Alexander, resumed his career in 2016 after spending a decade incarcerated and proved a challenge to Melikuziev, who couldn’t stop or drop him. It’s the kind of fight a young fighter needs against a tough out.
Alexis Rocha takes out Michael Perez in five rounds
Alexis Rocha (15-0, 10 KOs) of Santa Ana got roughed up by Roberto Valenzuela of Sonora, Mexico (17-2, 16 KOs) in his WBC Continental Americas Welterweight title defense, but stuck it out and came back for a fifth-round TKO win.
Valenzuela hurt Rocha with a big uppercut in the second round. Seeing an opening, the challenger had at it, but Rocha managed to survive. “He caught me in the second round, and I was being lazy to be honest, so it’s my fault,” said Rocha. I got caught, it’s boxing, you’re going to get a little dazed from it. I didn’t feel hurt, but for a boxer, when you get caught, you feel like you can’t control yourself, and that’s how I felt.”
Valenzuela had emptied the tank, though. Valenzuela remained patient, and the popular prospect didn’t let his fans down. He kept after Valenzuela and attacked to the body for the following two rounds. Referee Ray Corona nearly stopped the fight at the end of the fifth round, but Perez made it to the bell and stumbled into his corner. His corner agreed he’d had enough, giving Rocha the TKO 5 win.
“I knew the body shots were taking a toll on him, so I started attacking the body, letting my hands go more, and I knew sooner or later he’d get out of there,” said Rocha.
“Today was a good learning experience. It was important that I finished the fight. This kid has heart. I’ll go back to the gym and work on my defense, and that’s OK,” said Rocha. Rocha sparred with Vergil Ortiz Jr. to prepare, and it might have been the difference for Rocha.
Luis Feliciano defends title against tough Herbert Acevedo
Luis Feliciano of Milwaukee (14-0, 8 KOs) successfully defended his NABF Super Lightweight Title against a never say die Herbert “Ace” Acevedo (16-3-1, 6 KOs) of Garden City, Kansas. Feliciano unloaded everything he had in his arsenal against Acevedo, dropping him in round 3. But the tough challenger was determined to end the fight on his feet, and he sent it to the scorecards. Judges scored the fight 100-89, 99-90, 97-92 for Feliciano.
“I give props to Herbert Acevedo. He’s a tough and rugged fighter,” said Feliciano. “I thought he was out when I dropped him in the third round. I tried to get the finish, but he weathered the storm. I’m happy to finish the year with a win, and we are on to the next.” Feliciano’s punch selection is as impressive as his power, making him a lot of fun to watch.
Erik Bazinyan hopes for title fight in 2020 after Saturday KO win
Erik Bazinyan (24-0, 18 KOs) of Quebec, Canada made it an early night, scoring a second-round knockout over Mexican veteran Saul Roman (45-14, 37 KO) to retain his NABA Super Middleweight World Title. “I learned from fighting a veteran, someone with almost 60 fights,” said Bazinyan. “I tried to show my skills and fight my fight. The timing was right, so I got him out of there.” Bazinyan’s goal was to place himself in title contention in 2020 and he kept the plan on track with his flashy win.
Kerobyan, Bohachuk win walk-off bouts
In the first of two walk-off bouts, Ferdinard Kerobyan of North Hollywood, California (13-1, 8 KOs) made quick work of Fernando Carcano of Mexico (23-11, 18 KOs). Kerobyan had Carcano down early in the first round, and followed it up with an even more vicious knockdown seconds later, causing referee Raul Caiz Sr. to end the bout at 1:46 of the first round.
“This was a great victory. This was everything I imagined. A great birthday gift for myself!” said Kerobyan, who turned 22 years old Friday.
Undefeated super welterweight Serhii Bohachuk of Ukraine (17-0, 17 KOs) maintained his perfect record and knockout rate against Carlos Galvan of Colombia (17-10-1, 16 KOs), scoring a fifth-round knockout in his fifth fight of 2019. Trained by offense-minded Abel Sanchez, the pair are a perfect match.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
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