Karlos Balderas TKO-4 Julio Cortez
Balderas goes to 11-1 (10 KO) with the stoppage win as he continues to move his way down to 130 lbs, having started off his career fighting at 135. His last two bouts have had 132 lb catchweights following his upset loss to Rene Tellez Giron in late 2019.
Balderas, 25, wasn’t perfect here, but he was the bigger, stronger man and made that count for something. He didn’t seem to have the strongest legs in this fight, which color commentators Tim Bradley and Mikaela Mayer both pointed out, and it made Bradley in particular wonder if going to 130 is really the best move.
But while Balderas did eat some shots, he was never visibly hurt by the punches, and he took this fight over really from the second round on. The former Olympian stayed in the pocket more than might have really been necessary, but it worked out, and he landed some really good body shots.
Cortez (15-4, 11 KO), a 33-year-old from Ecuador, was shaken in the third round, but got late into the fourth before an accumulation of punches saw the referee step in. Cortez didn’t like the stoppage but he was clearly not all there at that point, either.
Tiger Johnson TKO-4 Antonius Grable
A useful pro debut for U.S. Olympian Tiger Johnson (you’ll recall him as Delante Johnson from Tokyo, but he’s going by Tiger as a pro), as Grable (3-2-1, 3 KO) wasn’t a total scrub and didn’t just come to Las Vegas to roll over and take the loss. He tagged Johnson with a couple decent shots, but Johnson (1-0, 1 KO) definitely controlled the majority of the fight.
The end of the fight came after a right hand forced a referee’s count, and when the action resumed, the 23-year-old Johnson caught him with another good shot, and the referee stepped in to stop the action. It’s debatable whether it really needed to be stopped — there was just over a minute left — but Grable wasn’t going to win this fight barring a miracle shot.
One minor note maybe worth something is that Johnson got a small cut on a clash of heads in the third round, and started fighting pretty recklessly after that. The aggression worked out here, but it was an emotional response which may have been complicated by the fact that Grable wasn’t making this super easy work before that, either.