By Jake Donovan
Antonio Orozco had no problem adjusting to late sub Jose Reynoso, scoring two knockdowns en route to a 7th round knockout Friday evening at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
Orozco is rapidly emerging as one of the top prospects in the sport, though to the point where he will immediately transition to one of the top contenders. The Californian showcased his continued improvement in the Fox Deportes-televised main event, breaking down Reynoso round by round until forcing the stoppage.
The first of two knockdowns occurred in round five, when Orozco connected with a wicked body shot to force Reynoso to a knee. The ending came two rounds later, when a series of power punches was capped by a right hand to put Reynoso on the deck for the second time. Referee Kenny Bayless waved off the contest at 1:13 of round seven.
The victory wasn't one that will jump off his resume down the road, but was a much needed step in the right direction for Orozco, whose only flaw thus far has been activity. The San Diegan - now 24-0 (21KO) - made his 2013 debut, as his progress has been slightly stalled by injuries.
What hasn't slowed him down at all has been his opposition. Reynoso never stood a chance, even if he were given the benefit of a full training camp. The Mexican falls to 16-5-1 (3KO), after having accepted assignment on 24 hours notice in place of Jose Aguiniga, who was forced to withdraw after passing out during Thursday's weigh-in.
Anthony Dirrell (25-0, 21KO) enjoyed a successful return to the ring in that he gained a win in his first fight in 18 months. The manner in which he won was workmanlike, as he was pushed by journeyman Don Mouton (12-7-1, 10KO) in taking an eight-round unanimous decision.
Scores were 78-74 and 77-75 (twice).
Carlos Ivan Rodriguez remained unbeaten after cruising to a unanimous decision over Giorgi Mtchedlishvili in their six-round featherweight bout.
Scores were 60-53 and 59-54 (twice) for the undefeated Puerto Rican, who wisely boxed rather than traded with the tough-as-nails Mtchedlishvili. Velazquez' patience paid off, chipping away before scoring a final round knockdown of the 23-year old Georgian, who falls to 8-5-1 (1KO).
Velazquez advances to 15-0 (11KO). Nicknamed 'Twin Dream', the 28-year old is doing the heavy lifting in the family; twin brother Juan Carlos Velasquez has not fought in more than a year.
Errol Spence saw and raised his 2012 Olympic teammate Joseph Diaz Jr, dropping Brandon Hoskins twice en route to a 1st round knockout in their welterweight bout.
The unbeaten southpaw was disciplined and precise in his attack, boxing wisely and taking advantage of any opening that presented itself. Hoskins hit the canvas hard midway through the round, but was game to continue. Spence took care of that in a hurry, stunning the journeyman with a right hook to the body before finishing him off with a left uppercut.
Referee Tony Weeks saw enough and stopped the fight without issuing a count following the second knockdown. The official time was 2:35 of round one, resulting in the fifth consecutive loss for Hoskins, now 16-5-1 (8KO).
Spence rolls to 5-0 (4KO) as a pro. The Texan was the last remaining member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic male boxing team to be eliminated from competition, lasting until the quarterfinals before bowing out. The male squad was the only in U.S. Olympic boxing history to fail to secure a medal, though its female counterparts helped avoid complete futility.
Joseph Diaz Jr. remains perfect as a pro after scoring a 3rd round knockout of Eric Gotay in the Fox Deportes-televised opener.
Diaz (4-0, 2KO), a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing squad, froze Gotay with a left hand and a body shot before putting him down and out with a right and straight left hand. Gotay (3-2, 1KO) beat the count, but amateurishly shook his head as he attempted to steady himself, prompting referee Vic Drakulich to stop the contest despite a mild protest from the fighter.
The official time was 0:19 of round three.
Both of Diaz' knockouts as a pro have come at The Cosmopolitan, having stopped Juan Diaz in two rounds earlier this year. His pro debut came on the undercard of a CBS-televised show in December, topped by Leo Santa Cruz' unanimous decision win over Alberto Guevara in Los Angeles.
The card comes as part of a full boxing weekend in Sin City, which of course is highlighted by the Saturday evening pay-per-view headliner between unbeaten pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. and welterweight contender Robert Guerrero.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox