Carlos Canizales wanted nothing more than to forget about the two years he was forced to spend away from the ring.
His comeback fight wound up providing all the wrong kind of memories.
Esteban Bermudez landed on the favorable end of an instant Upset of the Year candidate, following a stunning 6th round knockout of Venezuela’s Canizales to win a secondary version of the WBA junior flyweight title. The regionally based fringe contender twice floored Canizales, the latter prompting referee Guillermo Perez to halt the contest at 2:36 of round six in their Estrella TV-aired junior flyweight title fight Friday evening at Foro Viena in Mexico City.
Bermudez made his presence felt early in their televised main event. The clear crowd favorite, Bermudez took the fight to Canizales, who perhaps struggled with ring rust as he was unable to find a steady rhythm. Bermudez took advantage, repeatedly connecting with long right hands.
Round two saw more of the same. Canizales was still unable to put together his punches while Bermudez was far more fluid in a high contact round.
Canizales finally untracked his offense in round three, fending off his stubborn challenger to connect with several straight right hands upstairs. Bermudez was still able to enjoy offensive success of his own, though his loose defense allowing a few too many power shots to find their way home.
Two-way action ensued in round four. Canizales moved forward, driving Bermudez into the ropes and landing a right hand. Bermudez countered with a crisp uppercut that caught the attention of the unbeaten secondary titlist.
Canizales took the lead in round five and into round six, though dearly paid the price for his aggression. The bulk of the action took place in center ring, with Canizales scoring with right hands but unable to walk down his determined foe.
Bermudez found an opening midway through round six, launching a long right hand that found Canizales’ chin in the air. Canizales crashed to the canvas, beating the count but clearly on the verge of collapse. Bermudez closed the show in the very next exchange, as another right hand drove him to a corner and back onto the deck. The fight was waved off without a count with less than 0:30 to go in the round.
A three-plus year title reign comes to a violent close for Canizales, who suffers his first defeat in the process as he falls to 22-1-1 (17KOs). The previously unbeaten Venezuelan won his version of the title in March 2018, making two defenses before watching his career shut down due to the pandemic and an inability to travel.
As for Bermudez, an unlikely star is born from the moment. The win is by far the most significant of his otherwise unspectacular career, improving to 14-3-2 (10KOs). After having never posted a notable win in his eight-year career, the 25-year-old is now poised for big paydays in the talent-rich junior flyweight division.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox