The first big bill of 2024 came from Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas, and the talented Vergil Ortiz Jr halted Fredrick Lawson inside a round.
Ortiz Jr (20-0, 20 KOs) had been touted as the next big thing for some time, but a liver condition and struggles with weight had threatened to scupper that. The Texan was last seen in August 2022, stopping Michael McKinson in the ninth round, and decided to move up in weight, although he still weighed in two pounds over the 154 super welterweight limit for this one. Lawson (30-4, 22 KOs) was hand-picked, and the Ghanaian hadn’t mixed in much world-class company, stopped in all of his previous three defeats.
Although this was a one round win, the stoppage when it came looked premature, but the writing looked on the wall in any case.
After controlling the first two minutes of action, Ortiz Jr buzzed Lawson with a stiff jab that stiffened his legs, and although the 25-year-old followed up with a two-fisted attack to head and body, most were being blocked and rolled with by the visitor.
The onslaught was enough though for referee Tony Weeks to jump in, and the fight was over.
Ortiz Jr suggested he was up for a showdown with WBO super welterweight world champion, Tim Tszyu, and was willing to go to Tszyu’s backyard of Australia to make that happen.
“I don’t fear anyone,” Ortiz Jr told media post-fight.
“I’ll fight anyone, anywhere, anytime. So, if we got to go to Australia, I’m down.”
Barroso stuns Davies in first round shocker
Ohara Davies had been waiting patiently for a shot at the WBA super lightweight title, but he saw his hopes of a meeting with Rolando ‘Rolly’ Romero for a shot at the full belt, go up in smoke, as he was caught cold by Ismael Barroso, and stopped inside the first half of the opening round.
Davies (25-3, 18 KOs) was wobbled by a big left hand, and a follow-up onslaught by Barroso forced him to the canvas, where he unsteadily beat the count.
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) January 7, 2024
The Mexican swarmed over ’Two Tanks’ on the resumption, and another left hand had the Londoner over once more, and, after a count and a long inspection, the referee waved the fight off.
Barroso (25-4-2, 23 KOs) took home the WBA interim strap as a result of his win and should be in line for a rematch with ‘Rolly’, who he controversially lost to in May.
Barboza Jr impresses on return
Another hot prospect on this bill was Arnold Barboza Jr, and after just one bout in each of the last three years, he will be looking to kickstart his career in 2024.
The California super lightweight started the year off right, forcing Xolisani Ndongeni (31-4, 18 KOs) to retire after the eighth of their scheduled ten rounder.
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Barboza Jr (29-0, 11 KOs) confronted the aforementioned Romero after the fight, who was watching on from ringside, in a bid to lure his compatriot into a showdown.
Raul Curiel (14-0, 2 KOs) defended his NABF welterweight title, scoring an eighth round stoppage against Elias Diaz (12-2, 7 KOs) and debutant Emiliano Gandara (1-0, 1 KO) started his professional career with a first round stoppage win against Isaac Matamoros (1-2).