It didn’t quite replicate the first round of Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns, but there was enough action Saturday at Mandalay Bay Events Center for Big Knockout Boxing to get a passing grade in its debut in Nevada.
Nine fights were contested in the hybrid sport, four of them for championship titles, with Gabe Rosado knocking out Bryan Vera with one second remaining in the sixth round of their seven-round main event to capture the BKB middleweight belt.
Rosado had done a good job countering Vera’s big punches, then using a lethal right hand to do considerable damage. And with time winding down in the sixth, he crushed Vera with an overhand right that sent the Texan down. Referee Kenny Bayless stopped the fight without even bothering to count Vera out.
“I was surprised, but I knew he could take a shot,” Rosado said. “I slipped his shots, and I was able to counter him.”
Vera said: “I was worrying too much about keeping my right hand up, and I ended up leaving my left hand down. I should have thrown more jabs and used more head movement. I didn’t respect his power.”
Rosado, who was knocked down early in the fourth round but came back with a knockdown of his own later in the round, turned the fight in his favor at that point.
The fights took place in a circular “Pit” with a 17-foot circumference. There were no ropes to lean on, and there was a padded safety ramp for fighters who were knocked down to land on or step onto if they were in trouble and willing to risk a one-point deduction.
The rounds were two minutes long instead of the traditional three, and the title bouts were scheduled for seven rounds instead of the normal 12. The nontitle bouts were five rounds.
“It’s not easy boxing in this little circle, but I made it happen,” Rosado said. “I’m really a boxer, and that’s what I do. My corner came up with a good game plan, and Vera’s a good fighter. But I wanted to put on a great performance and be an inspiration for people who came from the bottom like I did. I did it here in the bright lights of Las Vegas, and if I can do it, anyone can do it.”
As promised, there were knockouts, starting with the first undercard fight, as heavyweight Julian Pollard whipped up on Boban Simic, scoring a third-round technical knockout when referee Tony Weeks wisely stopped the fight at the 1:30 mark. Simic took an awful lot of punishment, with Pollard landing big shots from the outset.
Four of the nine bouts were decided by knockout or technical knockout, probably fewer than what organizers and the crowd of 4,572 were looking for. But for the most part, fans seemed to like what they saw.
“It’s the future of boxing,” said amateur boxer Brian Moreno of Las Vegas. “Guys are going toe-to-toe 100 percent here. You never see this much action in regular boxing.”
Steve Carlson of Las Vegas loved the view.
“I can see everything,” said Carlson, who was sitting in the back of Section 122, approximately 150 feet from the “Pit.” “There’s a lot more action, and the whole thing is very futuristic. It’s the Cirque du Soleil of boxing. I’m looking forward to the girls doing it.”
In the other three title fights:
— David Estrada outpointed Eddie Caminero to win the junior middleweight belt. Estrada knocked Caminero down three times, twice in the seventh round to seal the unanimous decision by scores of 69-61, 69-61, 68-62.
— Javier Garcia scored a fifth-round TKO over Darnell Jiles to win the welterweight title. Garcia knocked Jiles down late in the fifth, and referee Russell Mora stopped the fight at 1:48.
— Anthony Johnson defeated Dimar Ortuz by split decision in the cruiserweight title fight, winning 66-65, 65-66 and 66-65. Johnson’s fourth-round knockdown of Ortuz was the difference, offsetting a one-point deduction he received from referee Robert Byrd for hitting after the break in the first round.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.