On a night filled with upsets, David Morrell ended that trend in emphatic style.

The unbeaten Cuban southpaw provided a thrill for his local fans in his adopted Minneapolis hometown following a sensational first-round knockout win of unbeaten Mario Cazares. A straight left hand flattened Cazares, providing an instant end at 2:23 of round one as Morrell made the first defense of his WBA “World” super middleweight title Sunday evening at The Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The special Sunday edition of PBC on Fox saw unbeaten prospects suffer losses in three straight bouts preceding the main event. Leon Lawson III, Omar Juarez and Efetobor Apochi all fell short in fights they were heavily favored to win, though Apochi’s split decision loss to undefeated Brandon Glanton came in a Fight of the Year contender in the evening’s chief support that threatened to provide a tough act to follow.

Morrell gladly accepted that challenge.

Cazares looked to make things as uncomfortable as possible for Morrell, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle following an upset win over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. last September. The unbeaten super middleweight from Culiacan, Mexico repeatedly tied up Morrell after getting caught with a left hand early in their main event. Morrell—a 23-year-old Cuban who relocated to Minneapolis in 2019—wasn’t without flaw, landing a rabbit punch midway through the opening round, to the chagrin of referee Mark Nelson who warned both fighters to keep it clean.

Morrell heeded the advice and closed the show soon thereafter.

Action moved to the ropes, with Cazares in retreat and mindful of Morrell’s power. A straight left hand by Morrell set up a follow-up left, causing Cazares’ right leg to fold underneath him as he collapsed to the canvas. The scary sequence was enough to prompt an immediate stoppage, much to the delight of the sellout and rabid crowd.

Cazares comes up miserably short in his U.S. debut, falling to 12-1 (5KOs) with the knockout loss.

Morrell cruises to 5-0 (4KOs) with the win, his third straight on Fox’s flagship network. His first primetime network appearance saw the start of his current title reign, claiming a 12-round unanimous decision win over unbeaten Lennox Allen last August in Los Angeles. The win came on the undercard of Circle of Discipline gym stablemate and rising welterweight Jamal James, with both fighters winning interim titles on the Fox show.

Morrell has since received an upgrade from WBA “Interim” to “World” super middleweight titlist following Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s dominant 12-round win over Callum Smith in their December 2019 title consolidation clash. One week after Alvarez-Smith, Morrell entered a non-title fight with Mike Gavronski, scoring a third-round knockout in their mismatch last December 26 at Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles.

Both Fox appearances in 2020 took place behind closed doors, with Sunday’s affair coming in stark contrast with a packed house on hand. The event marked the first boxing show to take place at The Armory since August 2019, with Morrell making his pro debut on the undercard.

It was also the first boxing card in Minneapolis since the pandemic, with the city receiving worldwide attention following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of disgraced police officers last May. Two of the best active fighters in Minneapolis, James and Morrell did their city proud with separate wins on the first post-pandemic PBC on Fox show, with Morrell continuing to add to their gym’s storied legacy through just five pro fights.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox