GLENDALE, CA: On a big card, the headliners proved their worth with three knockouts in three fights before a packed house in the suburban city of Glendale on Saturday.
Junior lightweight prospect Saul “Neno” Rodriguez (15-0-1, 12 Kos) started the knockout jamboree with a wipe-out of Argentine veteran Juan Solis (21-9, 8 Kos) at the Glendale Civic Auditorium. The Top Rank show in coordination with Bash Boxing and Art of Boxing Promotions was televised.
Rodriguez may have starched Solis, who was making his first visit to the States, but for a few rounds it was back and forth until the Riverside prizefighter found the right combination.
Solis was the taller of the two and the 32-year-old had also fought 30 bouts before entering the ring. He also had Sugar Shane Mosley and Rudy Hernandez working in his corner. It seems every Argentine has an awkward style and Solis was no different.
Rodriguez opened the fight tentatively as he studied Solis. The Argentine was slightly more aggressive as Rodriguez tried to find the proper distance in the first round. Solis caught Rodriguez with an overhand right to win the opening round.
From the second round on Rodriguez increased the tempo of the fight and put more pressure on the Argentine. The lanky Rodriguez opened up with a three punch salvo and began testing the chin of Solis. The Argentine absorbed the punches for two more rounds but in the fourth a right uppercut seemed to shake him up. Rodriguez erupted with more combinations but could see that Solis was out of the danger zone. But Rodriguez had found an opening.
In the fifth round Solis became overly concerned with that right uppercut that Rodriguez had been landing. Any kind of movement by Rodriguez was compensated for by Solis, who seemed too aware of the right. At the end of the fifth round it was apparent that Rodriguez had the upper hand.
Solis seemed to realize that he was losing the fight in the sixth round and wanted to turn things around. He attacked Rodriguez and pinned him in the neutral corner. But Rodriguez chose that moment to engage and connected with a left hook, right cross and left hook that short circuited Solis and down he went. The speed of Rodriguez’s combination was impressive and the power behind the blows to end the fight impressed the crowd with its suddenness. The fight was over at 56 seconds of round six.
Rodriguez thanked his trainer Eduardo Garcia, who knows a thing or two about grooming world champions. He has three in his pocket with his two sons Mikey Garcia, Robert Garcia and Fernando Vargas to prove his ability to groom world champions. Will Rodriguez be the fourth?
Former junior flyweight and flyweight world champion Brian “Hawaiian Punch” Viloria (35-4, 21 Kos) absorbed a head butt that opened up a cut under his eye but never seemed bothered by it. The old pro, who has been boxing professionally since 2000, took the cut in stride then destroyed Mexico’s Armando Vasquez (21-12) with a left hook at 1:37 of round four to end the match with a knockout. Viloria is back with trainer Freddie Roach.
Junior lightweight contender Josesito Felix Jr. (28-1-1, 23 Kos) needed less than three rounds to pound out Luis Solis (15-6-4). Felix had very little to worry about from Solis, who didn’t have the firepower to keep Felix out of his range. Forty-one seconds into the third round referee Lou Moret had seen enough of Solis’s head snapping back, and stopped the fight.
Brazil’s Esquiva Falcao (6-0, 4 Kos) pummeled Louisiana’s Lanny Dardar (2-2-2) for five rounds in their middleweight contest. Falcao never dropped Dardar but was pinpoint with his punches and had him in total retreat for two rounds. The fight was stopped at 1:31 of round five.
Cem Kilic (1-0) started fast against Jose Mejias (0-1) in a battle between debuting fighters. It looked like he might get a knockout but ran out of gas while trying to take out the gritty Mejias. Kilic had to settle for a unanimous decision in the middleweight bout.
Arnold Barbosa (4-0) of Los Angeles was dominant over Samuel Garcia (0-2) in a welterweight clash that went four rounds. Barbosa was too sharp for Garcia who never submitted, but had no answers.