By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Luis Nery needed more time than he expected, but the unbeaten bantamweight finished off Juan Carlos Payano impressively in the ninth round Saturday night.
Mexico’s Nery nailed the Dominican Republic’s Payano with a perfectly placed left hook to the body that ended their scheduled 12-round fight. That devastating shot sent Payano to his back and left him writhing in pain.
Payano couldn’t even attempt to get up before referee Vic Drakulich counted to 10. The time of the stoppage was 1:43 of the ninth round.
Nery improved to 30-0 and recorded his 24th knockout on the Manny Pacquiao-Keith Thurman undercard at MGM Grand Garden Arena. By beating Payano, Nery remains the WBC’s No. 1 contender for its 118-pound champion, France’s Nordine Oubaali (16-0, 12 KOs).
Payano (21-3, 9 KOs) suffered his second knockout defeat in his past three fights. Japanese knockout artist Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16 KOs) needed just one minute and 10 seconds to knock out Payano in the first round of their October 7 fight in Yokohama, Japan, Inoue’s hometown.
Payano’s fight with Nery was much more competitive than his loss to Inoue. Ultimately, though, he couldn’t take Nery into the championship rounds.
The round before their fight ended, a straight left hand by Nery caught Payano flush just before the midway mark of the eighth round.
Nery buzzed Payano with a right hook a little more than a minute into the seventh round. Nery backed Payano against the ropes and hammered him with head and body shots toward the end of the seventh.
Payano popped Nery with a straight left early in the sixth round. They traded left hands later in the sixth.
Nery caught Payano with a left just before the bell sounded to end the sixth.
A right hand by Payano knocked off balance with just under a minute to go in the fourth round. Nery immediately responded with an overhand left.
Payano fell to the canvas, but Drakulich ruled Nery pushed him down.
Payano backed up Nery with a left hand around the one-minute mark of the third round.
Nery wobbled Payano with a right hook when there were about 20 seconds to go in the second round. Nery and Payano spent much of the first round feeling one another out.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.