It wasn’t Ryan Garcia staying fresh ahead of a potential Tank Davis fight, and it wasn’t even Alexis Rocha vs Anthony Young. Instead, we got short notice replacement George Ashie in the main event, and though Ashie endured a tremendous amount of punishment, he was never a real threat to Alexis Rocha tonight.
Rocha (22-1, 14 KO) realized early that Ashie (33-6-1, 25 KO) didn’t have the power to hurt him, and spent the night willingly taking punches to corner and pound Ashie at will. Credit to Ashie for getting up from a hard knockdown in the 3rd and never giving up on throwing back at Rocha. But, this fight was almost 10 pounds above Ashie’s last one, and two divisions above where Ashie has spent most of his career. The most damage he did to Rocha here was a cut from an accidental headbutt in the 6th.
Tonight was all about delivering a January 28th show for DAZN so that subscribers would get anything beyond just Eubank-Smith for their January subscription money, and keeping Rocha in position for a mandatory welterweight title shot against Terence Crawford. Mission accomplished on both.
Afterwards, Rocha explicitly called for a WBO order to fight Crawford, and said he wants that fight next. Golden Boy are obviously hinting at it being on deck, with Bernard Hopkins going so far as to say, “Correct,” when asked during the show if Rocha would fight Crawford next.
Floyd Schofield UD-10 Alberto Mercado
Another impressive performance for rising star prospect Floyd Schofield, and a bit of a learning experience against a savvy and durable veteran in Alberto Mercado. Schofield (13-0, 10 KO) was quick to emphasize a body attack, and put Mercado (17-5-1, 4 KO) on the canvas early in the 2nd.
Mercado was shaken badly late in the 4th, but managed to stay on his feet. A tangled foot, shoulder shove no-knockdown in the 8th was a very reasonable call, but another no-knockdown in the 9th looked like it should have been official. All three should serve as valuable lessons to Schofield on how to avoid taking a knockdown away from yourself against a seasoned opponent.
The impetuousness of youth led to Schofield eating a few punches while switching stances that a more experienced, 25 year old version of himself will likely have learned to avoid. Schofield also did a full 360 spin on a missed punch in the 5th, and struggled a bit to cut off the ring against an evade-and-escape focused Mercado who spent most of the back half of this fight in survival mode.
Despite it all, Schofield came out looking great, sweeping all cards 100-89 and showing almost no fatigue in his first 10 round experience. The 20 year old Schofield was supposed to be tested here, and he passed with excellent marks.
Bektemir Melikuziev KO-3 Ulises Sierra
The ending of this one was written all over the ribs of Ulises Sierra after the first punishing body shot landed in the 1st round. Much was made over a limited effort to capitalize on a wounded Sierra (17-3-2, 10 KO), and whether Bek (11-1, 9 KO) was playing it slow to get a few rounds of work in. It did seem like Bek was content to dance his way into position for one or two punches at a time when he might have been able to close the show faster.
If Melikuziev was delaying the finish, it cost him a little something as he took a cut near the eye on a 2nd round clash of heads. He didn’t delay much longer, landing a savage body shot knockdown that Sierra got up from instinctively, and perhaps regretfully. Sierra went down again for good just before the end of round 3.
Lots of intestine-liquefying action here, but we didn’t really learn anything new about Bek from this outing.
Oscar Collazo KO-5 Yudel Reyes
The opener was rapid-fire action, with a ferocious Oscar Collazo knocking out Yudel Reyes, who may have been a little too tough and courageous for his own good.
Reyes (15-2, 5 KO) kept it interesting for the first two rounds, but Collazo (6-0, 4 KO) started landing consistent, punishing hooks in the 3rd. Reyes went down in the 4th on what was ruled a debatable no-knockdown, but there was no arguing the validity of a crushing 5th round knockdown that nearly put Reyes out of the ring. Reyes got up and rallied as hard as he could, but kept getting clipped again and again with shots he couldn’t really handle anymore. Another savage knockdown right before the conclusion of the round ended things entirely.