By Francisco Salazar
Junior lightweight contender Jason Sosa dropped Haskell Rhodes three times en route to a technical knockout win in round seven Saturday night at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.
With the victory, Sosa, who resides across the Delaware River in Camden, New Jersey, improves to 23-3-4, 16 knockouts.
The Sosa-Rhodes fight was elevated to main event status after the Carl Frampton-Emmanuel Dominguez fight was cancelled Monday when Frampton had to withdraw from the fight after a cinder block fell on him in the lobby of the fight hotel. Frampton suffered a fractured left wrist.
Sosa had not fought since defeating Mexico’s Moises Delgadillo by unanimous decision on Jan. 18 in Verona, New York.
The 31-year-old Rhodes figured to give Sosa a challenge, but Sosa was in control of the fight from the opening bell, landing more punches than Rhodes in every round of the fight.
Sosa dug left hooks to the body in hopes of breaking Rhodes down. The tactic worked as a left hook seemed to momentarily hurt Rhodes midway through the third round. Sosa mixed his attack as well, connecting with a three-punch combination to culminate the fourth round.
Rhodes was game, but his tactic of closing the distance and standing in the pocket to trade with Sosa did not work, as Sosa landed the more-effective punches. Rhodes landed an occasional left hook to the head during the first half of the fight, but was ineffective at following up.
About a minute into round five, Sosa dropped Rhodes flat on his back with a lead left hook to the head. Rhodes beat the count and fought back, but would get dropped again with a right cross to the head. Rhodes again beat the count and was able to make it out of the round.
Sosa battered Rhodes in round six and picked up where he left off in round seven, dropped Rhodes to the canvas early in the round. Rhodes attempted to fight back, but his trainer saw enough, throwing in the towel that promoted referee Benjy Esteves to stop the fight at 1:08.
The 31-year-old Sosa, who is co-promoted by Top Rank and Peltz Boxing, has now won his last three bouts.
“(The win) was pretty satisfying,” said Sosa after the fight. “I think we did everything we were supposed to do (Saturday night). There’s room for improvement, but we’re a top contender now once again. We never left.”
During the post-fight interview, Sosa, who is ranked No. 5 by both the WBC and the WBO, called out WBC junior lightweight titleholder Miguel Berchelt.
“I need a title. I want to call out (Miguel) Berchelt and get that WBC belt. I’m here. I ain’t going nowhere. I come to fight. I put on good fights. The fans see me and appreciate me.”
Rhodes, who is originally from Spencer, Oklahoma and now resides in Las Vegas, falls to 27-4-1, 13 KOs.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing