LAS VEGAS-Lucas Matthysse finally cracked the iron head of Ajose Olusegun to win by knockout in the 10th round and capture the WBC interim junior welterweight title on Saturday.
After a constant sledgehammer attack by Argentina's Matthysse (32-2, 30 KOs), the fast-moving Olusegun (30-1, 14 KOs) was obliterated in front of a couple thousand raucous fans at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. When the end came it was brutal.
Matthysse started slowly as the hard-chinned Olusegun used his speed and agility to win the first round convincingly. Fans of Matthysse knew that their fighter is a slow starter.
Round two saw Matthysse open up the big guns and scored some pinpoint right hands to Olusegun's chin. The Nigerian never blinked.
“I thought I had him a few times,” said Matthysse, whose prior win was a knockout over Mexico's Humberto Soto. “It was a tough fight.”
In the third Matthysse began attacking the body and that opened up the firing lanes for the Argentine. Olusegun kept moving around firing combinations but the effect of his punches didn't seem as potent as before.
It was all Matthysse from there on.
The bombs flowed freely for the next six rounds but despite some eye-wincing blows Olusegun kept fighting. Finally, in round 10, a right hand snapped the Nigerian's head violently and that was followed with a pair of big right hands and down went Olusegun with a thud. Referee Russell Mora stopped the fight at 2:59 for a technical knockout win for Matthysse.
“He was a hard puncher, the hardest puncher I ever fought, but I'm disappointed with myself,” said Olusegun. “A good champion comes back and fights again.”
Matthysse won the WBC interim title and was very pleased by the accomplishment.
“I finally got my belt,” said Matthysse. “Now I have my dream and it's going to be tough to take it away from me.”
J'Leon Love (13-0, 7 KOs) faced the unorthodox style of Ramon Valenzuela (7-2) and let the Chicago middleweight self-destruct in the eighth round. After Valenzuela attempted to lift Love's leg in the seventh and again in the eighth, referee Jay Nady stopped the fight and disqualified Valenzuela.
“Man, he was awkward. I just took my time and had fun,” said Love who lives and trains in Las Vegas. “I just took what he gave me.”
Love connected often against Valenzuela but the square jawed ruffian was able to absorb the blows and continue fighting. Combinations flowed freely from Love who never lost his stride throughout the fight. In round seven, a three-punch combination punctuated by a left hook staggered Valenzuela. Love unleashed a blur of punches and Valenzuela held on. Then he tried to lift Love and the referee stopped the action and deducted a point from the Chicago fighter for the attempt.
With pound for pound champion Floyd Mayweather watching in the front row, protege Love returned to a calculated attack that forced Valenzuela to look for cover. When he couldn't find refuge he attempted another left. Nady immediately disqualified Valenzuela at 37 seconds of round eight.
“There was no pressure at all. I love it,” said Love about fighting with his mentor Mayweather watching. “It's what I do every day in the gym.”
Melinda Cooper (22-2, 11 KOs) of Las Vegas used accurate combination punching to scrape out a majority decision against San Antonio's Celina Salazar (4-1-2) after six rounds of a junior featherweight bout.
Cooper used distance and pinpoint combinations in the first round, but Salazar never stopped moving forward and that was the theme of the fight.
Salazar closed the distance in the second round after sustaining some jabs from Cooper, but soon closed the distance with some busy work inside. A few times Salazar was able to catch the Las Vegas boxer with right hands as Cooper pulled away from exchanges. A counter left hook landed for Cooper near the end of the round.
Cooper started a little quicker in round three and fired off some good three-punch combinations. Salazar scored a solid right hand in the round and some inside fighting exchanges looked close.
Salazar had her best round in the fourth and seemed to land the right hand frequently. Cooper landed a clean left hook but Salazar landed several more right hands in the round to clearly give her the round. Cooper's braid dangled loose and it seemed to bother her.
A counter left hook from Cooper who kept the fight at a distance against Salazar opened the fifth. Several counter left hooks and a clean right uppercut scored for the Las Vegas fighter. A three-punch combination landed for Cooper who returned to form in the fifth by using distance.
Cooper entered the sixth round by continuing the form used in the prior round and kept Salazar at a distance. The Texas fighter kept pressing but was unable to close within striking range for long. At the end of six rounds one judge scored it 57-57, and the others 60-54 and 59-55 for Cooper. It was her first win after back-to-back losses in world title fights. Salazar suffered her first pro loss but looked good in moving to the contender class.
Ishe Smith (24-5, 11 KOs) hacked out a 10 round junior middleweight decision over Irving Garcia (17-8-3) with an assortment of combinations. A combination to the body and head dropped Irving in the first round but the Puerto Rican stiffened up his defense and lasted the distance. Two judges scored it 100-89 for Smith and another 99-90 for the Las Vegas-based Smith.
Daquan Arnett (7-0, 5 KOs) had some resistance from Mexico City's Jesus Tavera (3-3) but after three rounds of power shots the dam broke at 1:37 of round four. A blistering combination snapped back Tavera's head and referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight. Though the Mexican never was floored, he absorbed a lot of shots in all three rounds of the junior middleweight fight scheduled for six rounds.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV