By Manouk Akopyan
Blair Cobbs strut into the squared circle last Thursday night bringing back shades of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and let off a roaring “Whooo!” as if he were Ric Flair.
But then the WWE show stopped as soon as he met fellow unbeaten Steve Villalobos.
Cobbs (12-0-1, 8 KOs) survived a scare in the script with the first knockdown of his career and escaped deep waters in the sixth round to knock down and then knock out Villalobos in the ninth in a thrilling, back-and-forth brawl as the co-main event of Golden Boy’s Thursday Night Fights.
As soon as the southpaw secured the scintillating win, he climbed the ring ropes and let off another resounding “Whooo!” as WWE legend Shawn Michaels’ entrance song “Sexy Boy” played in the background at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif.
“I’m not surprised by my abilities to recover. I was hurt and then I got up and showed the heart of a true champion,” Cobbs told BoxingScene.com from the locker room shortly after his fight was finished. “I was surprised he lasted as long as he did. He showed tremendous heart. He came to win. He deserved to be undefeated, because he definitely had a lot of grit and a lot of heart. I made a few unconscious accidents and he capitalized on it and tried his best to get me out. But I believed in myself.”
The charismatic Cobbs went from “Whooo!” to “Woah!” thirty seconds in the sixth stanza when he fell face first after a series of clubbing rights from Villalobos (11-1-1, 9KOs). He got up, eyes glazed, and immediately fought back with surprising success, even drawing blood from Villalobos’s nose just seconds after he picked himself up from the canvas.
But Villalobos, covered with ink around his entire upper body, kept tattooing Cobbs, who ended up proving his strength was just as good as his swagger.
“I stuck to my fundamentals and endured the hardship,” he said. “I felt like I won every single round except the sixth. He started slowing down. I knew I could take him out. I’m ready to give an ass-whooping every single day. When I get in that ring, I’m fully prepared for everything.”
The 29-year-old said he wasn’t hurt in the sixth round, just a little disoriented. His corner told him he needed to win the final two rounds decisively in order to avoid any scorecard snafus, and he immediately listened to his trainer Clarence “Bones” Adams’ advice, proving he had plenty of mettle, character and conditioning to go behind the flashy, viewer-friendly personality.
Forty seconds into Round 9, Cobbs unleashed a series of combinations against the ropes that sent Villalobos to the ground. With a shaky opponent standing in front of him, Cobbs continued the onslaught and caught Villalobos with a right uppercut that stopped him in his tracks, and forced him to stumble several steps back from the middle of the ring before tumbling in the ropes. That’s when referee Edward Hernandez Sr. immediately waved off the contest.
This was the second straight undefeated opponent Cobbs has stopped this year. He decisioned Ferdinand Kerobyan to win the NABF junior welterweight title in March.
Cobbs, who’s now landed in Las Vegas after a circuitous journey, wants to keep developing his craft while maintaining his crowd-pleasing style.
“We’re just going through each fight, learning and getting the experience and growing. Seeing what I can do, what I can’t do. There aren’t too many things that I can’t do. I have to be tailor made in every fight to be dominant. I want to make it easy on myself though, absolutely. With each fight, we get a little bit better. I have plenty of technique, ability talent, charisma and heart. It’s just getting the experience now. My body is young. We can go a long way, or the short way. I believe I am the best in the world.
“Blair ‘The Flair’ is the next sensation in boxing. I will continue to upset opponents and put on a crowd-pleasing performance. I am the best, period.”
Manouk Akopyan has been a member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011 and has written for the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Guardian and Philadelphia Inquirer. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.