By Jake Donovan
Robin Hood strikes again!
Robinson Castellanos lived up to his reputation as a major spoiler, pummeling Ronny Rios en route to a knockout 11 seconds into round five, Friday evening at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California.
The only threat Castellanos faced all evening was whether or not the bout would last long enough to remain official. The visiting trialhorse suffered a gushing cut over his left eye in the opening round, with replays suggesting it coming from an overhand right. Referee Ray Corona ruled it was the result of an accidental headbutt, which meant the fight had to go four rounds in order to be ruled official.
Unfortunately for Rios, it lasted just a little bit longer than that - enough time to catch a major beating, as he looked dazed and completely separated from his senses by fight's end.
Despite the cut, Castellanos enjoyed a strong opening round, but the best was yet to come. Rios had no clue what he was walking into, as he was caught with a hailstorm of punches and dropped hard in round two, the lone knockdown of the bout. Castellanos never let up, gunning for the knockout but finding Rios to be a tough nut to crack.
"He's a strong kid and a good fighter," the veteran acknowledged after the fight. "I don't doubt that he'll be a world champion one day. But tonight was my night."
It wasn't Rios' night, and neither he nor his corner was prepared for the challenge they faced. The California-based prospect staggered to his corner at the end of round two, only to be met with a profanity-laced tirade from trainer Hector Lopez, who was furious that his charge opted to stand and trade rather than stick to his jab and fight from the outside.
Rios didn't exactly have a say in the matter. Castellanos charged in at will, overwhelming the 24-year old during every exchange. Additional punishment was doled out in rounds three and four, to where you had to wonder when Rios' corner would rescue their fighter.
Lopez gave his fighter the final marching orders prior to round five, claiming he had one more round to turn things around before he would pull the plug. Why he waited that long is a decision he will be forced to live with, as Rios was clearly separated from his senses, his eyes dazed to the point where immediate medical attention should have taken the place of trying to cling on to his unbeaten record.
Castellanos made it a little easier for the referee to rescue the battered prey, jumping on Rios in the opening seconds of round five before forcing the stoppage.
The win was much needed for Castellanos, who was riding high following an upset of Celestino Caballero last April, but brought to reality with a stoppage loss at the hands of Rene Alvarado earlier this year. The upset over Rios (23-1, 10KOs) was a return to his fighting reputation of marching into his opponent's backyard and snatching their undefeated record, as he's done in the past to Alejandro Sanabria and Christopher Perez years ago.
With the knockout, Castellanos improves to a deceptive 20-10 (13KOs). More important, he re-enters the featherweight title picture, with a checklist already in kind.
"Jhonny Gonzalez, stop fighting flyweights," Castellanos demanded, referring to his countryman's 11th round stoppage of Jorge Arce last Saturday. "Why don't you step to me?"
Gonzalez actually targeted a showdown with Castellanos before the 32-year old lost to Alvarado in February. Such a fight remains a possibility in 2015, though other game also awaits - such as the man who beat the man who handed him his last loss.
"Rocky Juarez, I know you don't run from anyone," Castellanos said of his fellow resurgent featherweight, who scored an upset win over Alvarado in May. "You have a belt that belongs to me (the WBC Silver featherweight title). Come fight me!"
Antonio Orozco remained unbeaten after turning back the challenge of faded former 130 lb. titlist Stevie Forbes in their televised co-feature .
Scores were 80-72 on all three judges' scorecards, but the fight was anything but a walk in the park for Orozco. Action was competitive in the early rounds, with the 37-year old Forbes giving a respectable account of himself while Orozco struggled to find a seamless flow between offense and defense.
The undefeated 26-year old improved as the bout progressed, scoring with digging body shots and walking through the best that Forbes (36-13, 11KOs) had to offer. His overwhelming size difference wasn't enough to stop the iron-chinned veteran, as Orozco (21-0, 15KOs) has now seen his past two bouts go to the scorecards after having stopped his previous seven opponents.
Diego de la Hoya was forced to go the distance for just the second time in his career and was given an honest night's effort from Luis Ruiz in taking a six-round decision.
Scores were 60-54 across the board for de la Hoya, who was forced to work hard to earn the shutout win. Ruiz (5-3-1, 2KOs) refused to wilt, even when it became apparent that he was outgunned. As hard as he tried, the 21-year old from Mexico simply couldn't take the lead at any point, with his best moments coming in spurts.
de la Hoya - the nephew of former six-division titlist Oscar de la Hoya, who also doubles as his promoter - improves to 7-0 (5KOs).
All three bouts aired live on Fox Sports 1.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox