By Ryan Maquiñana
Jermell Charlo continued his ascent through the junior middleweight rankings with a 10th-round stoppage of Jose Angel Rodriguez at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.
The main event of the Fox Sports One-televised card saw the promising Charlo (21-0, 10 KOs) outbox and eventually outgun a 34-year-old upstart in Rodriguez (17-2-1, 2 KOs), who had never been stopped but had only knocked out two of his 20 pro foes.
Almost immediately, the Houstonian’s accuracy allowed him to take control, as a right hand and subsequent flurry had the southpaw Rodriguez stunned and holding on to remain upright. After springing himself free from the clinch, Charlo resumed his onslaught, stepping around the New York City native to land another right hand. Ultimately, Rodriguez regained his bearings by the end of the round, which was fought at a more measured pace.
The second and third stanzas were marked by Charlo’s patience. As Rodriguez rushed toward his foe to throw his right jab, Charlo exhibited his discipline by slipping shots, throwing combinations upstairs, then pivoted his way out of trouble. Rodriguez showed some guile of his own, feinting and flicking his right jab before scoring with a left hand to the body. But Charlo was able to anticipate Rodriguez’s right hook, and was able to win both frames by boxing.
In the fourth, Charlo consistently moved to his left, varying the pace by either stopping on a time to throw a left hook or looping right hand. For his part, Rodriguez attempted to stop his opponent in his tracks with a double jab and straight left down the middle. But the New Yorker had a hard time landing clean enough to win rounds.
Charlo took initiative in the fifth, buzzing Rodriguez with a left hook and right hand. As the New Yorker showed signs of being hurt, the Houstonian pressed forward to sling four more power shots, hoping to hit the target with enough impact to put his opponent on the canvas. But much like in the opening frame, Rodriguez weathered the storm.
Rodriguez’s hands were a lot more active in the sixth, and he dictated the pace throughout the three minutes. His right jab was effective, and he made Charlo temporarily hesitant to pull the trigger. Rodriguez even unveiled the occasional lead left hand that caught Charlo off-guard in a round that should have gone to the New Yorker.
The seventh was up for grabs until the final minute, when Charlo took over. With about 45 seconds left in the stanza, Charlo pivoted to his left after slinging a double left jab and scored with a strong right hand that came from a different angle. He replicated the feat once more before the bell.
Rodriguez, possibly aware he trailed on the cards, pushed the issue to start the eighth and winged looping shots at Charlo. One such left hand connected to the body. But Charlo answered with a one-two, followed by another left jab as he turned to his left that snapped Rodriguez’s head back. Charlo then potshotted for the rest of the round, timing Rodriguez’s ambushes and countering well with both hands.
Searching for an opening to strike, Rodriguez began to crouch his way inside before throwing, and a lead left hand found paydirt in the first minute of round nine. He then tied Charlo up and went back to the body. But the Houstonian slithered away and snuck in a quick left hook on the beltline, then succeeded the shot with a sharp left hook up top.
The end came abruptly in the 10th and final round. A right hand and left hook from Charlo commenced the damage, as Rodriguez simply braced for the inevitable hailstorm of power punches. A subsequent unanswered flurry from Charlo began with a one-two and left uppercut, and the referee administered Rodriguez a standing-eight as the ropes kept him from tipping over.
With Rodriguez unmistakably stooping over and unable to continue, the referee allowed the fight to linger a few seconds longer than necessary. No fault to Charlo, who loaded up on one more right uppercut before the third man in the ring finally waved off the tilt at 1:41.
According to CompuBox, Charlo landed 156 of 542 total punches for a 29 percent connect rate. Rodriguez was 100 for 456 (22 percent).
The win marked another solid scalp for Charlo’s collection. The 23-year-old twin can also count sturdy opponents Denis Douglin, Dashon Johnson, Harry Joe Yorgey, and Demetrius Hopkins among his latest victims.
In a battle of unbeaten southpaws, welterweight up-and-comer Errol Spence continued his ascent with an eight-round unanimous decision over Emmanuel Lartey. All three judges saw it 79-73 for the 2012 Olympian.
After tearing through overmatched opposition in his first eight pro bouts, Spence (9-0, 7 KOs), from DeSoto, Tex., made the most of his height and reach advantages to impose his will on the durable Lartey (15-1-1, 7 KOs), who hailed from Accra, Ghana.
In the opening round, Spence smashed Lartey with a left hand over the top that definitely hurt the Ghanaian and forced him to crouch and grab the Texan’s left leg. Lartey bought more time when he clinched and Spence used his forearms to push him away, leading the referee to separate the combatants.
The second frame was a power-punching festival for Spence, as he picked at Lartey with a solid right jab and clocked him with the same left cross. As Lartey leaned on the ropes, Spence then turned his attention to the body, hurling a right hook to the ribcage and replicating the punch upstairs.
A left hand from Lartey and a couple elbows caught Spence midway through the third, but the Ghanaian could not follow up with anything substantial. Spence then turned the tables on Lartey, cutting off the ring with his superior footwork and teeing off on his stationary foe with several winging shots.
Spence persisted with his pressure in the fourth, doubling up his right jab and ripping right hooks to the body. Lartey pumped his right jab and stuck his left cross through the guard, but the Olympian was relentless with his two-fisted attack to the midsection.
The fifth turned into a feintfest, and Lartey took the opportunity to strafe Spence with a one-two down the pipe. Spence’s decreased activity might have been a result of fatigue, but he was still able to unravel another flurry downstairs in the closing seconds of the stanza. However, most of the shots hit Lartey’s gloves in what could have been the Ghanaian’s only round to that point.
Attempting to reassert himself, Spence walked Lartey down in the sixth and promptly scored with a right jab and left cross followed by a right hook. Darting in and out, Spence then jammed a left hand in his foe’s face. As he proceeded to wail away on a retreating Lartey, the timekeeper inexplicably let the round go on for close to 60 seconds after the three-minute limit. But a weary Lartey would reach the bell and make it to his corner.
Lartey hoped to counter with the left hand in the seventh, but Spence was relentless, throwing a garden variety of power shots with the Ghanaian in the neutral corner. A short right hand from Lartey interrupted what seemed to be a full minute of offense from Spence, who now mixed the left uppercut into his repertoire. Lartey finally landed a right hook with Spence’s chin exposed that temporarily dazed him, but clinched his rival long enough to hear the bell.
Hoping to build on his momentum from the closing seconds of round seven, Lartey came alive in the final frame, stepping in with his right jab and throwing left-handed haymakers in a role reversal. With Spence on his bicycle, Lartey continued his aggression, scoring to the body and to the head. But undoubtedly in need of a knockout, Lartey instead spent the waning moments of the bout locking arms with Spence, who seemed to appreciate the breather until the final bell.
Upon the bout’s conclusion, Lartey leaned forward on the ropes with his head down, perhaps lamenting his lack of activity for the first six and a half rounds.
Per CompuBox, Spence landed 186 of 630 total punches (30 percent). Lartey’s totals were 137 for 498 (28 percent).
Super bantamweight Rau’Shee Warren shut out veteran Jhon Molina over four rounds for the unanimous decision victory in the opening televised bout. Scores were 40-35 across the board for the three-time U.S. Olympian and world amateur champion.
Warren (8-0, 3 KOs), from Cincinnati, Ohio, initially benefitted from a gaffe in the first round, as Molina clearly slipped but the referee ruled it a knockdown. From that point forward, while Molina had a few successful moments on the inside, Warren’s handspeed, bodywork, and combination punching carried him through the next three frames.
At one point, the American southpaw teed off on the 5-foot-2 Molina (32-25-3, 20 KOs), reeling off a smooth string of five consecutive punches highlighted by a sharp right hook. But the Colombian was outgunned but undeterred. In the last minute of the fight, he caught Warren with a pair of lunging shots and some bodywork with the Olympian on the ropes.
According to final punch stats, Warren landed 77 of 200 punches at a 38 percent clip, while Molina went 39 for 158 for a connection rate of 25 percent.
Warren, who admitted the performance was lackluster by his own standards, had battled a head cold during the week.
“I felt good, but I didn’t look as good,” Warren said. “When I’m fighting shorter guys, some people think it’s easy. He was ducking down, and I was trying to get to the body, but every time I went down, he used his head.”
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.