By Cliff Rold
It wasn’t easy but 22-year old Bantamweight Randy Caballero (19-0, 11 KO) of Indio, California, found the shot he needed to score his third straight inside the route on Saturday night at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, turning back a game effort from 31-year old Miguel Robles (12-3-2, 5 KO) of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was Robles’ first knockout loss.
Caballero came into the fight at the division limit of 118 with Robles scaling a pound less at 117. The referee was Jack Reiss.
Caballero, the 2008 US Amateur Champion at Flyweight, got to work early establishing his left jab. Suitably warm at a minute in, he began looking for heavier shots, landing a lead left hook and a later a whipping straight right. Robles proved himself ready to fight in the final minute, catching the aggressive Caballero with multiple right hands.
The next three rounds saw both men play an intense chess match, neither able to dictate the geography of the fight or find their most desirable range. Caballero was leading more often but Robles’ awkward movement and unpredictable counter attempts kept him firmly in the fight.
After a fifth round that saw Caballero appear to win it on sheer output, even if it was sparingly effective, Robles came to life big in the sixth. Whipping shots to the body and around the guard of Caballero upstairs, Robles landed some of his best stuff since the first. Caballero, fine with meeting him in the trenches, fought back hard for an exciting two-way exchange to close the round.
Robles stayed close in the seventh and it was just what Caballero needed. Battling at close quarters along the ropes, Caballero landed a left clean to the belly that Robles never saw coming. He felt it instead, dropping first to his right knee and then to all fours as the referee doled out the count. Unable to rise, Robles wore a mask of pain straight through the sound of “…ten,” Reiss waving the fight off at 2:09 of round seven.
Caballero came into the bout on the verge of a title shot in the Bantamweight division. He is currently rated #15 by the WBC, #10 by the IBF, and #1 by the WBO.
The undercard cast a spotlight on a pair of promising 2012 US Olympians.
20-year old Jr. Featherweight Joseph Diaz Jr. (6-0, 4 KO), 123 ½, of South El Monte, California, scored his third consecutive stoppage and first opening round knockout with a vicious body shot against Luis Cosme (8-3-1, 3 KO), 123, of Bayamon, Puerto Rico. All of Cosme’s losses have come inside the distance. The official time was 2:09 of round one.
In the televised opener, 23-year old Welterweight Errol Spence (7-0, 6 KO), 147 ½, of Desoto, Texas, continued his rise with a bang, stopping 34-year old Eddie Cordova (4-5-1, 1 KO), 147 ½, of Clearfield, Utah, with a body shot in the opening frame. The official time was 2:13 of round one.
Spence scores his third first round knockout in a row and fourth in five fights. The Texan is best recalled for a run at the Olympics that resulted in his being defeated under controversial circumstances in the second round of the Games only for the verdict to be overturned. Ultimately, he would exit as a quarterfinalist.
Featherweight: Erick Ituarte (5-0-1, 1 KO) D4 Humberto Zatarain (3-1-2)
The card was televised in the U.S. on Fox Deportes, promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]