What is likely to be the most-watched fight of the year in boxing will take place on Saturday at Staples Center in Los Angeles, as two YouTube sensations make their professional debuts.
Logan Paul will face KSI in a rematch of their amateur bout last August, which was declared a majority draw. That fight drew over 20,000 fans at Manchester Arena in England and recorded more than 1 million pay-per-view buys on YouTube.
And while Paul and KSI are getting all the attention, there are two title fights on the undercard, as well as some solid prospects trying to make a name for themselves.
After Billy Joe Saunders scored a late knockout and successfully defended his super middleweight world title, Devin Haney retained his WBC lightweight title with a unanimous decision over Alfredo Santiago.
Devin Haney def. Alfredo Santiago by unanimous decision
Fight recap coming up …
Saunders stops Coceres late
Billy Joe Saunders retained his WBO super middleweight title by stopping a game Marcelo Esteban Coceres in Round 11 of their scheduled 12-round bout.
Coming into the fight, Saunders said he had no issues with being on the KSI-Logan Paul undercard. He reasoned that making his U.S debut on this event would give him a valuable opportunity to introduce himself to a new market. But it’s not clear how much he endeared himself to the crowd at Staples Center after a good, but unimpressive performance.
Much of the fight was devoid of any sustained action, and Saunders (28-0, 14 KOs) got by on his superior boxing skills from his southpaw stance. Coceres (28-1-1, 15 KOs) tried, but he had issues landing on Saunders, who proved to be an elusive target for most of the night. While Saunders was effective, he was hardly exciting, and by the 10th round the crowd in Los Angeles, which was mostly subdued during this bout, began to boo.
Ultimately, a series of punches sent Coceres to the mat in the 11th round, bringing the crowd out of its slumber. Coceres rose to his feet but moments later he was hit by a right uppercut that had him crashing to the canvas for a second time. He gamely rose to his feet but went down a third time, and as Coceres tried to get up, referee Ray Corona decided that he had seen enough and called off the fight at 1 minute, 59 seconds of the round.
Brueckner wins debut, proposes to his girlfriend
Josh Brueckner, a YouTuber and social media personality, — fittlingly, on this fight card — pitched a four-round shutout over Tyler Smith in a light heavyweight battle. Both fighters were making their boxing professional debuts.
There wasn’t too much in the way of sustained action, but Brueckner controlled each round. After the fight, Brueckner got on one knee and proposed to his long-time girlfriend and YouTube sensation Katie Betzing. She said yes.
Pacheco scores another KO
Diego Pacheco (7-0, 6 KOs) stopped Aaron Casper (5-4, 4 KOs) in Round 4 to score his sixth knockout in seven professional fights.
Pacheco, 18, is a prospect to watch. He has naturally heavy hands and a full offensive arsenal highlighted by a long right cross. He scored a knockdown of Casper in the second round with a right hand, and then twice in the fourth as he kept hitting Casper with the right. After a barrage of punches, referee Rudy Barragan stopped the fight at 2:49 into the fourth.
Rios overpowers Berrio
A resurgent Ronny Rios (32-3, 16 KOs) put forth another strong effort as he knocked out Hugo Berrio (28-8-1, 18 KOs) in the fourth round of their scheduled 12-round contest. Rios dominated from the start, landing hard punches on Berrio and connecting with left hooks to the body and right hands to the head. Berrio was never comfortable against the onslaught of Rios, who put him away with a blistering right hand at 2:56 of the fourth.
Rios, who back in the summer beat the previously undefeated Diego De La Hoya, is very much back in the title picture at junior featherweight.
Mati sops Peterson in Round 2
Junior middleweight Reshat Mati (5-0, 3 KOs) remained undefeated with a second-round stoppage of Cody Peterson (1-6). Mati hurt Peterson and followed up with a barrage of punches midround, forcing referee Ivan Guillermo to wave off the fight at 1:42.