By Keith Idec
Malik Hawkins got a late replacement out of there early Friday night.
Baltimore’s Hawkins stopped Mexico’s Carlos Soto after two one-sided rounds in a welterweight fight that was scheduled for eight rounds in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The fight was stopped before the third round began because Soto told a ringside physician that he couldn’t see out of his swollen left eye.
The 21-year-old Hawkins’ win was the second of three bouts broadcast by Showtime as part of a “ShoBox: The New Generation” tripleheader from MGM National Harbor, just outside of Washington, D.C.
Hawkins improved to 11-0 and produced his eighth knockout. Soto, who took the fight on barely more than one week’s notice, lost for the first time as a professional (13-1-2, 7 KOs).
Hawkins took command almost immediately.
The taller, stronger fighter appeared to buzz Soto with a left hook when Soto’s back was against the ropes, just before the midway mark of the first round. A Hawkins right hand later in the first round created a lot of swelling over Soto’s left eye and nearly closed it.
Referee Bill Clancy asked a ringside physician to look at Soto’s eye late in the first round, but the action continued. Soto took a knee soon after the action resumed, but answered Clancy’s count at eight.
Hawkins targeted Soto’s left eye throughout the second round, which Hawkins won decisively by landing numerous power shots to Soto’s head. Soto told a ringside physician who was examining his left eye following the second round that he couldn’t see how many fingers the doctor put up and the fight was stopped.
Hawkins was supposed to face Venezuela’s Juan Ruiz (18-0, 11 KOs) on Friday night, but Soto replaced Ruiz last week because Ruiz suffered an injury during training camp.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.