Arnold Barboza Jr. kept himself in position Saturday night to fight for a junior welterweight world title.
Barboza broke Mexican veteran Antonio Moran’s nose in the second round and dominated him en route to winning a 10-round unanimous decision in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Barboza beat Moran by huge margins on the scorecards of judges Jason Greenwalt (99-91), Don Griffin (100-90) and Mike Ross (99-91).
ESPN aired Barboza’s victory as the opener of a three-bout broadcast from Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Barboza, of South El Monte, California, remained unbeaten (26-0, 10 KOs) by winning his first fight since a 10-round, unanimous-decision victory over Alex Saucedo last October 17 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Saucedo suffered two brain bleeds in that taxing fight and was forced to retire at the age of 26.
Before Barboza beat him Saturday night, Moran (26-5-1, 19 KOs) had recorded back-to-back knockout victories after a seventh-round knockout defeat to Devin Haney and a 10-round split draw with Yomar Alamo in consecutive contests in 2019.
Barboza kept trying to knock out Moran in the 10th round, but he couldn’t hurt his resilient opponent before the final bell sounded. A hard jab by Barboza knocked Moran into the ropes with just a minute remaining in their bout.
A counter left by Barboza connected just after the halfway point of the ninth round. Moran drilled Barboza with a counter left of his own about 20 seconds later.
Barboza blasted Moran with a right hand that stunned him with 20 seconds left in the ninth round.
Barboza’s short, right hand landed inside with just over a minute on the clock in the eighth round.
Barboza landed a right uppercut inside just after the midway mark of the seventh round. Moran landed a left hand about 30 seconds later, but Barboza answered back with a right hand.
A left hook by Barboza knocked Moran into the ropes with just under 50 seconds on the clock in the sixth round. Barboza remained the more accurate, active fighter throughout that sixth round and continued to build on his big lead.
Barboza’s right hand snapped Moran’s head back and moved him into the ropes with about 1:20 left in the fifth round. Moran nailed Barboza with a right that connected with just under 30 seconds to go in the fifth round, but Barboza didn’t budge.
Barboza’s jab backed Moran into the ropes barely a minute into the fourth round.
A right-left combination by Barboza backed up Moran with about 1:15 to go in the third round. Barboza caught Moran with a right hand with about 20 seconds to go in the third round as well.
Barboza blasted Moran with a counter left hook barely 35 seconds into the second round. Approximately 1:10 into the second round, Barboza’s right uppercut backed up Moran.
An active, accurate Barboza continued to land on Moran and badly bloodied his nose later in the second round. Moran’s handlers confirmed to ESPN’s Mark Kriegel following the second round that Moran had suffered a broken nose.
A right-left combination by Barboza landed about 1:10 into the first round. Barboza landed a right hand out of a clinch with about a minute to go in the first round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.