After two wins in a row by decision, middleweight world titlist Jermall Charlo was antsy to return to his knockout ways and predicted he would score one against Dennis Hogan on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Charlo did just that, scoring two knockdowns and stopping Hogan in the seventh round to retain his 160-pound world title for the second time in the Showtime-televised main event.
"I made it through 2019, and we're going to 2020 with 20/20 vision. Shout out to Dennis Hogan for giving me real competition and for coming up [in weight] to fight me," Charlo said, perhaps overestimating the competition Hogan provided in the one-sided fight. "Of course, my power prevailed tonight."
Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs), 29, of Houston, had held an interim title, which he defended once, before he was elevated to the WBC's full 160-pound belt holder after Canelo Alvarez was stripped in June. Charlo, who defended the full belt in June by lopsided decision over Brandon Adams, dedicated the win over Hogan to his daughter, Journey, who was born last month.
After feeling each other out in the first round, Charlo dominated the rest of the fight. They began to engage in the second with both men landing solid punches, Hogan with left hooks and Charlo with body shots.
Twelve seconds into the fourth round, Charlo landed a wicked left uppercut that dropped Hogan for the second time in his career. He went down and tumbled all the way over before getting to his feet. He took many more punches in the round as he tried to stay away from the stalking Charlo, who continued to land heavy shots in the fifth round.
"We've been working on that [uppercut]," Charlo said. "I try to take him out with every punch, and we work hard for it. He got up and he fought like a champion."
Early in the seventh round, Charlo feinted a left hand and immediately followed with a lead left hook that nailed Hogan on the chin and dropped him to the canvas. Hogan, his nose bleeding, beat the count, but he was dazed and referee Charlie Fitch waved off the fight at 28 seconds.
"[Trainer] Ronnie [Shields] told me to cut him off. I just threw the shot, and I made sure I threw it right on the money," Charlo said.
Hogan said he could have fought on after the second knockdown.
"I wanted to keep going, but the decision was fair enough by the referee," Hogan said. "I didn't see the punch coming on the second knockdown. I was trying to keep boxing him, but then all of a sudden I was on the ground and the fight was over."
Charlo landed 86 of 266 punches (32 percent), according to CompuBox statistics. Hogan landed 71 of 418 (17 percent) and had much less power on his shots than Charlo, who would like a bigger fight in a division in which Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin, two of boxing's biggest stars, also hold world titles.
"The middleweight division is wide open. I'm going to enjoy this and spend time with my team. I'm here to fight whoever," Charlo said. "You have to make the right decisions and do it at the right time. That's what it's all about."
Hogan (28-3-1, 7 KOs), 34, an Ireland native fighting out of Australia, was boxing in his second world title fight in a row. On April 13, in Monterrey, Mexico, Hogan gave junior middleweight world titlist Jaime Munguia all he could handle, but Munguia was awarded a disputed majority decision. Hogan's team protested the decision and sought an immediate rematch but it was not granted, and when he could not get another meaningful fight at 154 pounds he decided to move up to 160 pounds, where Charlo agreed to defend against him.
Eubank defeats injured Korobov
In the co-feature, England's Chris Eubank Jr., who made his United States debut, claimed a vacant interim middleweight world title when Matt Korobov injured his left shoulder in the second round and was unable to continue. The result goes down officially as a second-round technical knockout win for Eubank.
Eubank (29-2, 22 KOs), 30, a former super middleweight world title challenger, was dropping down from the super middleweight division to middleweight and hoping to impress in his American debut, but the fight was short-circuited before anything had really happened.
In the second round, Korobov, a southpaw, appeared to injure his shoulder when he threw a straight left hand. Referee Steve Willis called timeout to have the ringside doctor examine Korobov, and it was obvious he would not be able to continue, and the fight was stopped 34 seconds into the round with Korobov in pain. He left the ring quickly.
"I feel like I was just about to get my swagger on, and he just turned around and stopped," said Eubank, the son of British legend and former two-division world titleholder Chris Eubank Sr. "I was going to jump on him, but the ref said stop. I guess something happened with his shoulder. There's nothing to take from the fight. I threw like three or four punches. I was just warming up. It is what it is. There's a reason something happens.
"I'm the winner. I'm going to move forward and challenge for these [full] belts. This wasn't my dream. My dream was to come here to America and make a statement. I wanted to have a knockout and impress the crowd. But 2020, [I want to be] super active."
Korobov was taken to the hospital for a possible dislocated shoulder, a torn rotator cuff or both, manager Mike Borao told ESPN.
"I was trying to throw the left hand straight, and I just felt the muscle immediately, like I pulled it," Korobov said. "It was a lot of pain right away. I couldn't fight with just one arm, especially being a southpaw."
Korobov (28-3-1, 14 KOs), 36, a 2008 Russian Olympian fighting out of St. Petersburg, Florida, dropped to 0-2-1 in tough-luck fights. He lost due injury against Eubank, had a disputed draw with Immanuwel Aleem in May and dropped a competitive unanimous decision in an interim world title bout with Charlo that Korobov took on a few days' notice last December.
Iwasa knocks out Tapales
In the opening bout of the tripleheader, former junior featherweight world titlist Ryosuke Iwasa stopped former bantamweight world titlist Marlon Tapales in the 11th round of a dominant performance to win a vacant interim junior featherweight world title made available while unified titlist Daniel Roman recovers from an injury.
In the third round, referee Shada Murdaugh ruled that Iwasa knocked Tapales down, however on video replay it was clearly caused by an accidental head butt. There is no instant replay used to reverse such a call in New York.
Iwasa had a big eighth round as he hammered Tapales (33-3, 16 KOs), 27, of the Philippines, with combinations and stiff jabs down the middle as he continued to dominate the fight.
In the 11th round, Iwasa nailed Tapales, whose left eye was badly swollen, with a clean straight left hand that floored him. He beat the count, but Murdaugh did not like how he reacted and waved off the fight at 1 minute, 9 seconds.
"I knew that I had him hurt in the 11th round, and I was ready for the finish if the referee had let him keep fighting," Iwasa said through an interpreter. "It was a tough fight, but I trained really hard for this performance. My height and reach was definitely an advantage. I was able to put my punches together well. He never hurt me, but he was still difficult and I had to focus to figure him out. We're ready for anyone next. I'm going to keep working hard to become a world champion again next year."
According to CompuBox data, Iwasa landed 163 of 681 punches (24 percent) and Tapales connected with 148 of 531 (28 percent).
Iwasa, who was ahead on all three scorecards at the time of the knockout, won his second fight in a row since losing his world title to TJ Doheny by unanimous decision in August 2018.
Tapales saw his 12-fight winning streak since 2013 come to an end.