“Knockout Kings II” was an excellent seven-fight card at AT&T Center presented by Golden Boy Promotions and Leija-Battah Promotions. Very rarely in the sport of boxing these days does a card deliver from top to bottom like the one put on by Golden Boy and Leija-Battah.
The Showtime television portion of the show kicked off with up and coming and undefeated welterweight prospect, Keith “One Time” Thurman, fighting for his career’s first interim world title. Thurman (21-0, 19 KOs) faced off against a fellow undefeated warrior Argentine Diego Chaves (22-0, 18 KOs), who unlike most of Thurman’s opponents to this point, was a game fighter who didn’t back down from the heavy hitting Thurman.
What made this a heavily contested welterweight affair is the fact Chaves was willing to take some leather to throw some leather and came to fight. After an uncustomary slow start, most ringside observers including myself noticed the stunned look on Thurman’s face as he came out for the third round knowing he had a fight on his hands. Chaves was for real.
After trading middle rounds and having Chaves land the cleaner, harder punches in the seventh and eighth, Thurman nodded respectfully as the fighters came together at round’s end. Two minutes later in the ninth, Thurman found Chaves with a partially deflected left hook to the liver and dropped the Argentine to the blue mat. “I wanted to punch him, I wanted to box him, and that’s exactly what I did,” said a victorious and battered Thurman. “I had a feeling he was going to tire out, and I went to the body later on.”
Thurman boxed, moved and eventually slugged his way to a knockout victory over Chaves, stopping him at 0:28 of the 10th round with a left hook from which the Argentine could not rise. To many observers, it seemed as if Chaves never recovered from the lethal body shot to the liver from the previous round and went down fighting on pure guts.
Next up, we had Texan and Lightweight Contender Omar Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs) squaring off against Japanese fighter Nihito Arakawa. This fight, in my opinion, stole the show as both fighters threw a combined 2,112 punches and each had to miss the post-fight press conference to get examined at the local hospital. Boxing purists are calling this fight a “Fight of the Year” candidate as neither fighter would not back down. Both had their moments to shine.
When Figueroa dropped Arakawa for the first time in the second round, swarming the Japanese southpaw with all the confidence of an undefeated star, the hometown crowd rose sensing an early second round knockout. To their dismay, Arakawa would survive the second round and put his Japanese fighting spirit on full display for the world to see. The very next round, Arakawa and Figueroa would stand toe to toe literally for the full three minutes while exchanging some of the most vicious power punches you will ever see by men who weigh 135 lbs.
In the end, it was the 23-year- old Figueroa winning the clear decision: 119-107, 118-108, 118-108 and a vacant interim belt. Figueroa landed more power shots and won a majority of the exchanges, but the gap on the judges’ cards leads one to scratch his head.
“Honestly, I didn’t think it was going to go long after that,” Figueroa said of his surprise after the first knockdown at Arakawa’s lasting another 10 rounds. "It was incredible. We both took a beating," a smiling, still-bleeding Figueroa said afterward before heading to the hospital.
Last but not least was the main event which matched up former two-time welterweight champ Andre Berto against Mexican veteran Jesus Soto Karass. Berto came to Texas desperately looking for a win after losing his last two decisions to Victor Ortiz and Robert Guerrero respectively.
Unfortunately for Berto and his fans, despite fighting through a severe shoulder injury which occurred in the middle rounds and dropping Soto Karass with a beautiful body punch in the eleventh round, the former champ would come up short. Soto Karass would get off the deck and finish Berto with a short hook in the twelfth round emphatically putting a capper on night for “Knockout Kings II”.
Thanks to the three fights shown live on Showtime the Golden Boy Promotions and Leija-Battah Promotions card ended up being a crowd pleasing card that will not be soon forgotten by all who witnessed.
Kendrick Johnson is an independent sports television, radio, and print journalist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kendrickjohnso
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