If the crowd in El Paso, Texas, came for long fights tonight, they were disappointed. But if quick knockouts were good enough, then they must be leaving happy.
Jhonny Gonzalez successfully defended his WBC featherweight title against Rogers Mtagwa, stopping the veteran brawler in the second round of the show's main event. Mtagwa (27-15-2, 19 KO) was once a fighter whose record was deceptive, but in two of his last three he's now been blown out by more talented, true top-tier fighters. In January 2010 he was thrashed in two by Yuriorkis Gamboa, and he didn't meet a much better fate in this one. He last fought on August 13, defeating Pedro Navarrete via TKO-8 in Mexico, his only win since May 2009.
Gonzalez (50-7, 44 KO) showed his great offensive skill set in this one. After starting tentatively and feeling out the Tanzanian challenger, he started to put together some nice offense late in the first round, and totally dominated in the second, chasing Mtagwa around the ring, landing hard shots to the body and head, and eventually getting him out without breaking much of a sweat.
It was an extra sweet win in a few ways for Gonzalez. It was the 50th win of his career, came during Mexican Independence weekend, and also, today happens to be his 30th birthday. Happy birthday, Jhonny.
On the undercard, things didn't go much better for the rest of "the opponents."
El Paso's own Antonio Escalante (25-4, 16 KO) beat down Pipino Cuevas Jr (14-8, 12 KO) in the first round. Escalante was knocked down early in the fight, but it was ruled a slip, and after that he took charge. Escalante, 26, was coming back from two straight bad knockout losses, and I think any upside on his career is very limited. He has a bad chin and he appears to know it, which is why slip ruling or not, he went for the kill on Cuevas as soon as he got knocked down. He'll be a fine TV fighter and it's not that he lacks talent, he just doesn't take shots all that well and has pretty bad defense.
Escalante's old rival Mickey Roman (36-8, 28 KO) also had a short night, knocking out veteran Antonio Meza (25-11-1, 17 KO) in the first round on a perfectly placed left hook to the liver. Roman looked on in disdain as Meza knelt in the middle of the ring in pain, unable to get up, and after the ten count, his reaction didn't become any more jubilant. Obviously, the 25-year-old from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, was expecting more of a fight.
Welterweight prospect Javier Molina (9-0, 4 KO) opened the show with a routine but earned six-round decision over John Revish (10-5-2, 8 KO), the young man from Louisiana who earlier this year gave Sadam Ali a pretty good test, too. From seeing both fights, I really, truly believe that Revish has legitimate talent, and that a real promoter, real management, better training, and the chance to be a full-time fighter could have made him at least a potential contender. He'll have to settle for this role, probably. He's got a good chin, he makes prospects work for their win, and he's not too hard to hit a lot of the time. He's a great "opponent," and could have been more. Maybe still could.
Also making it onto the ESPN Deportes broadcast was local prospect Carlos Villa, who improved to 3-0 (2 KO) with an easy first round stoppage of Javier Nunez (0-2) in a welterweight fight.