By Jake Donovan
Gabriel 'Tito' Bracero scored his second win in as many tries versus Danny O'Connor. The sequel produced the more shocking end by far, flattening the local favorite with a single right hand just 41 seconds into their main event Saturday evening at Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, Mass.
In an instant candidate for Knockout of the Year, Bracero - who hails from Brooklyn - waited for O'Connor to make a mistake before making him pay. It came much earlier than expected. The local welterweight was wild in his attack early in the fight, perhaps looking to please the rabid fans on hand for the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on NBC Sports Network event.
An attempt to score with an overhand left failed miserably for O'Connor, who never had a chance to reset his feet or get into a defensive stance. Bracero ducked the shot, saw the opening and let loose with a booming counter right hand that landed flush on his opponent's chin.
It was all that was needed to close the show. O'Connor was flattened in an instant, on his back for several minutes and well after referee Arthur Mercante Jr. immediately halted the contest.
The official time was 0:41 of round one.
Bracero - a promising prospect early in his career before a prison stint disrupted his progress - improves to 23-3 (5KOs). The bout was his first since a 10-round points loss to Felix Diaz earlier this year at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The final result was in stark contrast to their first fight, which was more in line with the fighters' respective knockout-to-win ratios. Bracero managed a wide decision in their April '11 meet when O'Connor was undefeated.
All three career losses suffered by O'Connor (26-3, 10KOs) have come versus Brooklyn-based boxers. The Framingham, Mass. product went 12-1 following the setback, his lone defeat over that stretch a shocking 10-round decision loss to faded Vivian Harris in Oct. '13.
UNDERCARD (MORE RESULTS TO COME)
Jonathan Guzman had never been past round four prior to 2015. He has now been five rounds or later in three straight fights, but maintains his perfect knockout to win ratio after stopping Danny Aquino in the 9th round of their televised co-feature.
The bout was all one way, but reached point whether Aquino would become the first to go the full distance with the unbeaten knockout artist from Dominican Republic. That question wasn't even a thought in round two, when Guzman twice floored the Connecticut-based Mexican pug.
A perfectly timed left hook put Aquino flat on his back, somehow beating the count but taking major punishment for the remainder of the round. Guzman dropped him again late in the frame after unloading with a heavy volley of power punches. The unbeaten super bantamweight settled down and began to box once it became clear that Aquino was prepared to go rounds.
That dynamic changed in round nine, when Guzman floored his opponent for the third time on the night. It would be the last time a punch was thrown in the fight, as the referee rescued a bloodied Aquino from further punishment.
The official time was 1:19 of round nine.
Guzman - trained by noted Boston cornerman Hector Bermundez, as is Ryan Kielczweski who won in the televised opener - improves to 20-0 (20KOs). He has fought 19 combined rounds in three fights in 2015 after having fought just 32 total rounds prior to the start of the year.
Aquino falls to 17-3 (10KOs) with the loss, snapping a two-fight skid. His most previous appearance came in April, scoring an upset win over the previously unbeaten Kielczweski.
In the opening bout of the telecast, Kielczweski gutted out a 10-round decision over Rafael Vazquez in an entertaining featherweight battle. Scores were 97-93 (twice) and 96-94 in favor of Kielczweski, who hails from nearby Quincy.
Vazquez made his presence felt early in the fight, but the issue was his inability to land often enough over the long haul. The 37-year old Nuyorican struggled to keep up with the local favorite 11 years his junior, although he proved more economical with his punches.
Kielczweski was able to put together a nice mid-rounds stretch which ultimately earned him the victory. However, the lanky featherweight was also forced to contend with a cut around his left eye, which was ruled to be caused by a punch.
It was never a factor, but Vazquez' power became a major part of the story line late in the contest. Kielczweski was rocked in the final minute of the bout, but wisely clinched and moved out of harm's way in order to cross the finish line.
The win advances Kielczweski's record to 24-1 (7KOs). He has now two straight victories since suffering his lone loss earlier this year to Danny Aquino, who fights in the evening's co-feature.
Vazquez falls to 16-2 (13KOs), snapping an eight-fight win streak.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com.
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