HEAVYWEIGHT southpaw Luis Ortiz (29-1, 25 KOs) returned to the ring at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Saturday with a resounding victory, scoring a devastating second round knockout (2-08) of former world title challenger Razvan Cojanu (16-4, 9 KOs)
Ortiz landed 42 percent of his power shots (eight of 19) while Cojanu landed just two of 13 (15%) in the short fight.
Ortiz was emotional after the fight. He told SHOWTIME’s Jim Gray that just five days ago he learned doctors have found a cure for Epidermolysis Bullosa, a disease his daughter suffers from.
“Thanks to God they found a cure for my daughter’s disease,” Ortiz said. “My wife told me while I was boarding the plane to get here. It’s been hard to be away from them. I’m happy I won, but it’s been really hard to be away from them.”
Both fighters were coming off losses in heavyweight world title fights. Ortiz was fighting for the first time since challenging Deontay Wilder in a 2018 Fight of the Year candidate. The 6-foot-4 Ortiz wasted little time knocking out the 6-feet-7½, 269-pound Cojanu, returning for his first fight since challenging then-WBO Heavyweight Champion Joseph Parker.
“In my mind King Kong has not been defeated. I don’t feel I lost against Deontay Wilder. I want to fight [Anthony] Joshua, but he only fights boxers he’s sure he can defeat. I’m going to ask the government to put me on disability, maybe that way Joshua will fight me.”
In the telecast opener on the Mikey Garcia-Robert Easter undercard, Mario Barrios (22-0, 14 KOs) remained undefeated recording his sixth straight stoppage with an eighth-round TKO of Jose Roman (24-3-1, 14 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round welterweight match. Each of the judges, as well as SHOWTIME expert scorer Steve Farhood, scored the fight 80-70 in favor of Barrios at the time of the stoppage as Roman’s corner didn’t answer the bell for the ninth round.
San Antonio’s Barrios relied on effective body work in dominating the fight, connecting on 61 of his 133 body shots. He connected on 44 percent of his power punches (104/239) compared to 26 percent for Roman (34/132), who had just five body shots on the night.
“[Body work] is something I’ve been able to work on,” Barrios told Gray in the ring. “You put the body work in early and by the end of the fight they have nothing left. That worked perfectly for this fight. This was the farthest I’ve gone in a while. It was great work and I feel like I’m transitioning to the fighter that I always thought I’ve be.”
Barrios, who suffered a cut above his left eye in the first round, sent Roman to the canvas at 1-15 of the fourth round with a strong right that dazed Roman, then a left hook that put Roman down for the seventh time in his career. Barrios ended the round with a flurry of punches that left Roman stunned.
The 23-year-old Barrios sent Roman down again with 1-38 remaining in the eighth round. Roman survived the round, but his corner refused to answer the bell and the fight was over.
“I feel I’m ready [for a title shot)],” Barrios said. “I feel strong. I feel fast. I’m young, but whatever my managers throw at me I’m ready. If I could get it tomorrow, I’d take it.”
It was a star-studded night at Staples as current and former world champions attended the fights, including Jarrett Hurd, Errol Spence Jnr, Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares, Gervonta Davis and Adrien Broner.
Shawn Porter was also in attendance. It was recently announced that Porter and fellow former 147-pound world title holder Danny Garcia will square off against one another for the vacant WBC Welterweight World Championship live on SHOWTIME Saturday, Sept. 8 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“I’m just a different type of athlete,” Porter told SHOWTIME’s Brian Custer. “When you talk about having the tools to become a two-time world champion; I have the tools, the athleticism, the tenacity the ring generalship. You will see all of that on Sept. 8.
“We always say that the business has to make sense [to make fights], And it sounds to me like the business has played its part. I win the WBC Championship and you’ll get Shawn Porter vs. Errol Spence.”
In streaming coverage of live undercard fights on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING COUNTDOWN, undefeated super lightweight prospect Fabian Maidana (16-0, 12 KOs), the brother of former champion Marcos Maidana, recorded a seventh-round stoppage (2-32) against former world title challenger Andrey Klimov (19-5, 9 KOs).
Also on the live stream, 2016 U.S. Olympian and unbeaten prospect Karlos Balderas (6-0, 5 KOs) dominated 54-fight veteran Giovanni Caro (27-24, 21 KOs) scoring a stoppage at 2-09 of the fourth round in a scheduled six-round super featherweight bout.