Billy Joe Saunders had a tougher time than most expected tonight, but in the 11th round, he wowed the crowd at Los Angeles’ Staples Center with three knockdowns and a stoppage win over challenger Marcelo Coceres.
After 10 rounds, Bad Left Hook had the fight 96-94 for Coceres, who was looking to take the WBO super middleweight title from Saunders (29-0, 14 KO). In their corners between the 10th and 11th rounds, you saw very different stories. Saunders’ team was legitimately concerned, while Coceres (28-1-1, 15 KO) and his team were looking confident.
But Saunders came out for the 11th round using his angles for the first time in a while in the fight, and he found a home for his power shots. He put Coceres down the first time, which really changed the complexion of the fight. A brutal uppercut put Coceres down a second time, at which point it was really over. Coceres got up and tried to fight on, but on a third knockdown, the referee called the fight.
The crowd, which had earlier booed a lack of action in the bout, obviously did get into the finish, and that’s important.
“There’s no excuse. That performance was not worthy of the Canelos, the Jacobses, and the other big names,” Saunders admitted. “I knew in my heart from round nine, I have to get this man out of there. My timing was off. I hope you enjoyed the knockout, because that’s the only thing I had to give you tonight.”
As this was his US debut, Saunders encouraged American fans to keep following him, saying this performance was not his best.