By Jake Donovan
Alberto Machado continues his run as a rising prospect. Abner Cotto enjoyed a successful return to the ring and the win column. Despite their different paths, both enjoyed the same result in each posting 1st round knockouts Saturday evening at Coliseo Roger E. Mendoza in Caguas, Puerto Rico.
The 2016 premiere of Boxeo Al Maximo was headlined by Machado's quick blitz of Mexico's Jose Luis Araiza.
The unbeaten super featherweight prospect from San Juan hasn't been extended beyond the opening round since Nov. '14. That trend continued on Saturday, though Araiza did his best to fight to survive.
Much of the opening round was spent with Machado sliding forward while the visiting opponent offered little in return beyond earmuff defense and little interest in fighting back. Action was slow as a result, at least until the house favorite took matters into his own hands/
A combination late in the round had Araiza briefly in trouble, with Machado refusing to allow his opponent to get inside and clinch his way out of trouble. A short left hook put his foe on the canvas, with the referee issuing a brief count until it became apparent that Araiza (31-15-2, 22KOs) wasn't going to get up, at which point the fight was brought to a halt.
The official time was 2:59 of round one.
Machado advances to 13-0 (11KOs), picking up his fourth consecutive 1st round knockout. The 25-year old prospect has scored stoppage wins in each of his last eight starts.
In the evening's chief support, Abner Cotto returned to the ring following a 15-month break, wasting little time in blasting out Edwin Lopez.
Cotto - whose second cousin, former four-division champ Miguel Cotto promoted Saturday's show - had been on the sidelines since a 5th round knockout loss to Javier Fortuna in Nov. '14. The setback - his third in a span of five fights - prompted thoughts of retirement before deciding to give it one more try.
His chief support bout with Lopez didn't last long enough to shake loose any ring rust, nor was any evident. Cotto went right on the attack, sensing he could hurt his foe any time he landed a clean shot. It was a sound theory, as evidenced by the fight's end - a straight right hand that deposited Lopez onto the canvas in a corner, where he was counted out.
The time was 1:32 of round one.
Cotto improves to 19-3 (9KOs), picking up his first win since a 10-round nod over Jerry Belmotes in Aug. '14, along with his first knockout victory since Sept. '13.
The one-time super featherweight prospect is the second cousin of former four-division champion Miguel Cotto, who served as the evening's promoter along with Hector Soto's H2 Entertainment in association with Roc Nation Sports.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox