Las Vegas Nevada- David Morrell Jr., who wants to fight a big-name super middleweight next, made his case by destroying Yamaguchi Falcao in the first round to retain the WBA “regular” title in the co-feature of the Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia Showtime PPV undercard Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.
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Morrell, who retained the secondary 168-pound belt for the fifth time, barely broke a sweat in slicing through late replacement Falcao.
Falcao, a 2012 Brazilian Olympic bronze medalist, replaced Agbeko Sena on eight days’ notice when the Nevada State Athletic Commission declined to license him for an undisclosed medical reason.
Morrell went right after him and got him out of there easily. He landed a right hand that sent Falcao (24-2-1, 10 KOs), 35, into the ropes, which referee Celestino Ruiz called a knockdown because the ropes held him up.
Morrell went on the attack when the fight resumed and forced fellow southpaw Falcao to the ropes before connecting with a massive left hand that dropped him face first, prompting Ruiz to wave off the fight without a count at 2 minutes, 22 seconds.
“I’m so excited. This was a big moment and a big night for me, so a knockout in the first round is incredible,” Morrell said. “But this is boxing. First round, second round, I’m not worried when the knockout comes but I got it in the first round.
“I think this is the best moment of my career tonight. It was a big event. I want to fight the best in the division.”
Falcao, who had won eight fights in a row, was down on the canvas for a few minutes receiving medical attention before leaving the ring under his own power.
“Much respect to Yamaguchi. I’m glad he’s OK,” Morrell said. “He’s a good guy and a good boxer.”
After the fight Morrell (9-0, 8 KOs), 25, a Cuban southpaw based in Minneapolis, immediately called out WBC interim titlist David Benavidez, a fellow PBC fighter, who could be next for what would be a very attractive fight. Benavidez, who was seated ringside, scored a major win last month by decision over former titlist Caleb Plant.
“David Benavidez is next. Where is he? I want to fight Benavidez, man. He’s next, 100 percent,” Morrell said. “I don’t want any other guys at 168 pounds. Just Benavidez. I respect Benavidez and his team, but inside the ring, I don’t respect nothing.”
The fight was Morrell’s first since Nov. 5, when he knocked out mandatory challenger Aidos Yerbossynuly in the 12th round. Yerbossynuly suffered a severe brain injury and was in a coma before recovering enough to be able to return home to Kazakhstan .
Melikuziev avenges Rosado loss
Super middleweight Bektemir Melikuziev said beforehand that he wanted a rematch with Gabriel Rosado even more than a world title fight, that’s how badly he wanted to avenge his only defeat. He called the rematch “the fight to right the wrong” and won it easily.
Melikuziev won 99-91 on all three scorecards in a hard-to-watch fight that had little action and left a frustrated crowd booing regularly.
For Melikuziev (12-1, 9 KOs), 26, a southpaw from Uzbekistan fighting out of Indio, California, however, it was sweet revenge. The “wrong” he wanted to right was from when they met in June 2021 and Rosado notched a massive upset with a spectacular third-round knockout.
“This was the fight that I wanted. This is the fight that I felt like I made a mistake in the first one, and I had this opportunity for revenge on such a big card. It’s a pleasure for me,” Melikuziev said through a translator. “In the first fight against Rosado, I underestimated my opponent. This time, we put the work in during camp. We went through everything. This time, the goal was to showcase my skills, box and punish him as much as possible too.”
The fight was extremely slow paced with the crowd booing the lack of action as early as the second round. It grew even louder in the third and was on and off for much of the bout.
The action picked up marginally in the later rounds with Melikuziev looking to measure Rosado (26-17-1, 15 KOs), 37, of Philadelphia, with right hands but seemingly wary to truly commit given what happened to him last time they met, leading to more booing in the ninth round.
Melikuziev won his fifth fight in a row since Rosado knocked him out.
Rosado only was put into the fight because he was supposed to fight Gabriel “Zurdo” Ramirez at light heavyweight on March 18 but the fight was canceled the day before because Ramirez was dramatically overweight and Golden Boy promised to get him a fight quickly.
“I tried, but I was a step behind,” Rosado said. “Father Time, 18 years as a pro, but I was game. I walked to him, I boxed him, I tried everything but I was a step too slow. I was a split-second behind. He’s fresh, he’s young and I’m happy for him. I knocked him out bad in the first fight and he made adjustments.
“I don’t make any excuses. I was ready. Now it’s time to wrap it up and give my knowledge to younger fighters with management and training. I want to share my experience with them, and maybe do some more commentating.”
Garcia outpoints Salgado
Middleweight up-and-comer Elijah Garcia overcame a slow start to outpoint Kevin Salgado..
Garcia (15-0, 12 KOs), 19, a southpaw from Phoenix, won 97-92, 97-92 and 95-94, although he got off to a very slow start. He began to come on in the second half of the bout.
Referee Robert Hoyle had warned Salgado, who is the younger brother of former junior lightweight titlist Juan Carlos Salgado, for hitting Garcia with low blows. When he went low again in the seventh round, Hoyle took one point.
Although two of the scorecards were wide, there was concern in Garcia’s corner before the 10th round as his father/trainer told him he needed the final round to win the fight.
“I was standing a little too still trying to fight on the inside. Salgado is a tough opponent,” Garcia said. “He was real tough, real strong and I just had to move and box a little bit. Other than that, it was a good, hard 10 rounds. I give my opponent 100 percent props.
“I just have to continue getting better in the gym every single day. That’s what it’s about. I learned a lot today. It was my first time going past six rounds and I got the full 10. The fights like this will get me closer to a world title.”
Salgado (15-2-1, 10 KOs), 25, a Mexico native fighting out of San Antonio, dropped to 1-2-1 in his last three bouts.
“I felt like I won. By a small margin, but I should have won,” Salgado said. “I feel really sad because I felt like this was a really good fight. The referee kept getting in my way. I got a point deducted from me but he didn’t say anything when Garcia hit me in the back of the head. It’s all just very sad.”