JoJo Diaz and Jason Quigley Shine in Hopkins’ Finale at the Forum

RESULTS FROM THE HOPKINS-SMITH UNDERCARD — INGLEWOOD, Ca. – The remarkable career of Bernard Hopkins ended on a sour note on Saturday night at the Inglewood Forum, but contenders and regional champions had their moments on the Final One before more than 6,000 fans. The Golden Boy Promotions fight card was the final one for 2016.

South El Monte’s Jojo Diaz (pictured) successfully defended his NABF featherweight title with a whitewash over Horacio Garcia (30-2-1, 21 KOs) after 10 rounds. All three judges gave Diaz (23-0, 13 KOs) every round.

Speed and more speed was the difference between the fighter from the small town of South El Monte with its population of 20,000. The tiny industrial city also has one of the most successful boxing programs pound for pound – most notably its female fighters that have produced multiple champions in the amateur and pro levels such as Mariana “Barbie” Juarez who now fights out of Mexico City. Now the men can boast of Diaz.

The hotshot from Southern California has been burning up opponents with his lightning combinations and pinpoint accuracy. His opponent Garcia is a student from Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s team and was well polished. He just didn’t have the speed to cope with Diaz.

Diaz used his speed and left leads all night and would mix in some stifling combinations to snap back the head of Garcia. If not for the Mexican fighter from Guadalajara’s skill, he might have been another knockout victim. Instead, he was able to connect here and there but never enough to convince the judges that he won any rounds. But he was strong.

“It was power versus speed,” said Garcia. “For every power punch I would throw, he would throw two.”

That was the story of the fight.

“Going into the fight I didn’t want to knock the guy out, but be effective,” said Diaz. “I think in 2016 I proved a lot. I feel like I’m ready so whenever they give me the opportunity let’s do it.”

Usyk

WBO cruiserweight titlist Oleksandr Usyk (11-0, 10 KOs) knocked out South Africa’s Thabiso Mchunu (17-3, 11 KOs) at 1:23 of round nine to retain the title. But for five rounds he couldn’t find his footing in the battle of southpaws.

Crowds booed most of the fight until the sixth round when a left uppercut followed by another pair of short lefts put Mchunu on the floor. Some in the crowd felt it was not a knockdown. He lasted the round despite a flurry of blows from the much taller Usyk.

The next round saw more of the posing and slapping style of blows from Usyk and back came the boos. In between rounds he must have been ordered to step up the aggression or go back home.

Usyk walked into the ninth round with only one gear and began firing well-placed blows. The South African was able to fire back at the more stationary Usyk but he was also more open. Usyk took advantage and delivered precise and lethal blows. A four-punch combination put Mchunu down hard. No count was needed for the knockout win. Fans finally had something to cheer.

“He got the better of me,” said Mchunu.

Usyk was somewhat content.

“We were hoping to get the knockout earlier, but we got it,” said Usyk.

The Ukrainian champion has technically sound fundamentals but the same amateur approach used by Vasyl Lomachenko. Instead of using that superior athleticism to knock out a foe, they are content with out-pointing. The pro crowd had no patience for that approach. But Usyk can adapt quickly with his talent and power. He has a lot of power.

Quigley

Ireland’s Jason “El Animal” Quigley (12-0, 10 KOs) snatched his own Christmas present with a first round annihilation of Puerto Rico’s Jorge Melendez (28-8-1, 26 KOs) in the first round of their middleweight clash.

Melendez walked in a nine-year veteran with plenty of pro experience. But after 40 seconds it was apparent that Quigley’s faster hands and accuracy were going to find the mark quickly.

A short chopping right to the ear followed by a left hook caught Melendez flush and down he went. Melendez got up and a four-punch combination by heavy-handed Quigley sent the Boricua down a second time. He got up though his corner had thoughts of stopping the fight and signaled an official to standby with a white towel. Another right cross sent Melendez down again. Referee Gerald White stopped the fight at 2:24 of the first round for a knockout win for Ireland’s Quigley.

A loud cheer went up from the hundreds of Quigley fans at the Forum.

“Me and (trainer) Manny Robles were ready to go all 10 rounds if necessary,” said Quigley. “He (Melendez) was coming forward to his own detriment. We are 100 percent ready for anything that is coming in the future.”

Kingry

A look into the future saw Ryan “Kingry” Garcia (7-0, 6 KOs) knock out Antonio Martinez (6-7, 5 KOs) at 2:00 of the second round of a lightweight fight.

Garcia, 18, was recently signed by Golden Boy after bidding wars with numerous rival promoters. It was the first fight under the L.A.-based promotion company and the tall quick-fisted fighter was nervously composed.

Call it the quick-twitch effect.

“I was a little nervous at first,” said Garcia who stands around 6-feet tall. “I used my jab and I got pretty comfortable after that.”

Near the end of the first round a right cross set up Martinez who slipped under the punch, but Garcia immediately followed with a short crisp left hook that nearly felled the shorter fighter. He survived a barrage of blows but wouldn’t survive the next round.

Falcao

Brazilian middleweight Yamaguchi Falcao (12-0, 5 KOs) won by knockout at 27 seconds of the first round when Tijuana’s German Perez (10-3-3) turned his back alongside the ropes forcing the referee to stop the fight.

Other bouts

NABA super bantamweight titlist Carlos Morales (15-1-3) survived a knockdown in the eighth round against young veteran Charles Huerta (18-4) in a back and forth battle that ended with a split decision in favor of Morales.

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