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Ortiz claims heavyweight belt with early TKO of Kayode

Luis Ortiz barely broke a sweat Thursday night but still won a heavyweight title.

The 35-year-old from Cuba won the World Boxing Association’s vacant interim belt, scoring a first-round technical knockout over Lateef Kayode at the Hard Rock Hotel.

Ortiz, who lives and trains in Miami, improved to 19-0 after he dropped Kayode a minute into the fight, then hurt him again late in the round with a huge left hand before working him over in the corner until referee Robert Byrd stopped the fight at the 2:55 mark.

“I just followed my corner’s instruction in order to be victorious, and they told me to just pay attention and wait for the moment and the knockout would come, and it did,” Ortiz said. “My dream was to come to Golden Boy Promotions because (president) Oscar (De La Hoya) has the vision. Now I am the world champion.”

Kayode (20-1) came into the fight talking tough but never backed up his words. He hardly threw a punch of consequence, as Ortiz never flinched and stayed on the attack. Kayode was visibly upset with Byrd’s decision to stop the fight, gesturing to the Las Vegas referee as he left the ring.

“The first time I went down, I slipped,” Kayode said. “The second shot, I was blocking, and I was just coming off the ropes to the right when it was unfairly stopped. You don’t stop a title fight until someone goes down.”

In the co-feature, veteran Juan Manuel Lopez came up short in his attempt to win a third world title, as Jesus Cuellar knocked Lopez out in the second round to retain his World Boxing Association interim featherweight title.

Cuellar (25-1, 19 KOs) had Lopez in trouble in the first round, but the former world champ from Puerto Rico managed to survive. He wasn’t as fortunate in the second, when Cuellar landed a series of blows early in the round, then set him up for the finish with a couple of rights, followed by a huge left that sent Lopez down and out at 1:36.

The loss dropped Lopez to 34-5 and was a sure signal he should retire. He was destroyed inside of three rounds by Francisco Vargas on July 12 at the MGM Grand Garden, and he had virtually no chance against Cuellar, one of several stars from Argentina.

After the fight, Lopez said he was going to discuss his future with his family before making a decision.

The rest of the undercard didn’t produce any upsets. Middleweight Jermall Charlo improved to 19-0 after stopping Norberto Gonzalez in the sixth round of their eight-round bout.

Junior middleweight Julian Williams (17-0-1) won an eight-round unanimous decision over Eliezer Gonzalez. Williams dominated from the start and won every round on all three scorecards.

Welterweight Errol Spence Jr. went to 14-0 with a second-round TKO of Noe Bolands, who hurt his left hand and could not come out for the third round. And veteran welterweight Josesito Lopez improved to 33-6 with an eight-round unanimous decision over Rafael Cobos, winning every round on the scorecards.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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