The Canelo vs Bivol card is underway in Las Vegas, with the early prelim undercard bouts having wrapped up.
We’ve seen some stoppages, an “0” that had to go, and some really good prospects in action already.
Here’s a look at the action we’ve seen so far.
Joselito Velazquez TKO-6 Jose Soto
Velazquez (15-0-1, 10 KO) has made some real improvements under trainer Eddy Reynoso, and looks like a rising star in the flyweight division. The 28-year-old Mexican was a really good amateur, fighting at the Rio 2016 Olympics and twice winning gold in the Pan American Games in 2011 and 2015. So he’s hade the promise since turning pro in late 2016, but he’s really starting to put it together.
That said, give credit to Soto (15-2, 6 KO) for a very game performance, as the 24-year-old from Colombia landed some good shots, hung in tough, and just got caught with a left hook that finished things off a bit over a minute into round six. Soto did get up, but referee Mike Ortega felt he was in no condition to continue.
Velazquez should really start moving toward contention sooner than later, and by the end of 2022 or early into 2023, figures to be ready for a proper step onto the world-level stage.
Aaron Silva TKO-4 Alexis Espino
This was a big opportunity for both young fighters, and Silva keeps his “0,” going to 10-0 (7 KO) with the fourth round stoppage win. I think you can quibble with the hook from referee Celestino Ruiz, but it was a judgment call, and he was the one right there on top of the action. While Ruiz maybe could have given a count instead — you could say the ropes held Espino (9-1-1, 6 KO) up at one point — it also would have been prudent for Espino to hold or even take a knee if he was feeling it.
But he didn’t, and instead Ruiz called the fight at 1:17 of round four. I thought Espino, 22, was still defending himself and looking for openings to fire back on Silva, 24. That’s my opinion from the TV angle. Again, Ruiz was right on top of it. I wasn’t.
It was the first fight in the U.S. for Silva, who was a slight betting favorite even though Espino has been featured many times on Matchroom cards and was the “A-side,” as it were, in this matchup. Espino had come in off a draw last December, and had also had an iffy performance his fight before that in Mexico, though he got a TKO-5 win in that one. Obviously, people were starting to see some cracks in the armor, and Silva found them for the win.
Elnur Abduraimov TKO-2 Manny Correa
A useless mismatch, if we’re being honest. Abduraimov (9-0, 8 KO) is a serious prospect, a 27-year-old Uzbek southpaw at 130 lbs who fought at the 2020 Olympics and won bronze at the 2015 World Championships. He was miles beyond Correa (11-1, 7 KO), a 31-year-old Cuban who has mainly fought around the Miami area since turning pro in 2017, and had never seen anyone like Abduraimov.
Correa went down three times before referee Robert Hoyle called this off at 2:43 of round two. This did nothing for Abduraimov, really; the idea that it “got him on a big card” is useless, because almost nobody watches prelims on any show, even a Canelo card, and there were probably a lot of guys they could have called in for this who might have had a little more to offer than Correa. Abduraimov should honestly be past fighting those guys, anyway; I know he’s only nine fights in now, but he’s a high-level, experienced amateur, too.
Anyway, here’s the finish.
Fernando Molina SD-6 Ricardo Valdovinos
A good test for Molina, who goes to 8-0 (3 KO) with the win, and it’s not really super controversial despite being a split decision. Valdovinos (8-2, 5 KO) definitely had some success in the fourth and fifth rounds, but I’m not sure he should have won both or either of those, really — also not saying he didn’t, to be clear — and it really comes down to a bad knockdown call in round six that went against Molina:
Without that being a 10-8 for Valdovinos, you’re not getting to him winning this fight no matter how you scored the fourth and fifth. The first three definitely should have gone to the 19-year-old Molina, a junior welterweight from Guadalajara.
So I think the judges got it right in the end, but the real question is on referee Mike Ortega here.