Margarito stops Gomez 74 seconds into fight

Updated: February 19, 2006, 2:23 AM ET
By Doug Fischer |

LAS VEGAS -- Antonio Margarito and Brian Viloria needed to make strong statements in their title defenses Saturday night in order to take their careers to the next level.

Margarito, the WBO welterweight title holder, did just that, taking only 74 seconds to knock out the usually durable Manuel Gomez, who rode a 12-fight unbeaten streak coming into the bout. Viloria, the WBC 108-pound title holder, showed his considerable promise by out-pointing former titlist Jose Antonio Aguirre over 12 tough rounds, but also proved that he is still in need of some seasoning before he takes on the best flyweights of the world.

Margarito, who improved to 33-4 (24 knockouts), knew he had to knock out his challenger in impressive fashion in order to prove that he's not just one of the best 147 pounders out there (if not THE best), but one of the best fighters, pound for pound, in the world and worthy of marquee matchups with the sport's elite boxers, such as Oscar De La Hoya or the winners of the upcoming Shane Mosley-Fernando Vargas and Floyd Mayweather-Zab Judah fights.

Bob Arum, who promoted the pay-per-view card and is co-promoting Mayweather-Judah, announced that he has reserved the 18,000-seat Thomas & Mack Center on July 29 for Margarito vs. the winner of the April 8 147-pound showdown.

Margarito said he hopes the undefeated Mayweather, who many consider to be the best boxer, pound for pound, on the planet, beats Judah.

"I would love to be the man to give Mayweather his first loss," the Tijuana native said after learning of Arum's summer plans.

Margarito obviously can't wait to move on to bigger things in boxing. He started fast tonight to the thrill of the 5,309 in attendance at Aladdin Theater of the Performing Arts, landing an assortment of punches despite eating a number of counter left hooks before catching Gomez with a big left uppercut along the ropes.

Margarito followed his uppercut with a big hook that staggered Gomez into the ropes, where the longtime WBO belt holder put the tough Texan on the canvas with a number of follow-up shots. Gomez looked finished enough, crumpled on his side, for referee Richard Steele to wave the contest off at 1:14 of the opening round.

Gomez, whose record dropped to 28-11-2 (20), popped up and bitterly complained of the stoppage, but didn't help his argument by stumbling into various cornermen before falling into the ropes again.

At the post-fight press conference, Margarito and Roger Mayweather, Floyd's uncle, head trainer and a former two-division champ himself, got into a friendly verbal exchange.

"The only way that a great fight should be made is if it makes great money," Mayweather said, questioning Margarito's marketability and the quality of his opponents. "This guy you beat tonight, I don't even know his name, I would have done that to him and I ain't even put on gloves in five years."

Margarito laughed the comment off and then fired this shot at Mayweather:

"If Floyd and I fight, I will do the same thing to him that Julio Cesar Chavez did to you."

Viloria's management and promoter (Arum's Top Rank, Inc.) hope the Hawaii native of Filipino descent can be this generation's Michael Carbajal, a 108-pound champ during the early-to-mid-'90s who had a diehard Mexican-American fan following and seven-figure earning power. With his exciting style and his growing fan base (mostly Filipinos and Filipino-Americans) Viloria is probably on his way to reaching that lofty goal, but he's not there yet, as evidenced by some anxious moments against Aguirre.

"Everybody thought I was going to have an easy time tonight; I think I was the only one who knew I was going to have a tough fight," Viloria said at the post-fight press conference. "Aguirre wanted to win tonight, I know he trained hard for this, and all of my respect goes out to him."

Viloria, who improved to 19-0 (12), may have given Aguirre too much respect after coming out swinging in the opening round. Viloria zapped Aguirre with lightening quick one-two combinations and a wicked straight right to the body, but the Mexican veteran weathered the storm and landed a few rights hands of his own before the bell.

In rounds two and three, Viloria stopped leading with his punches, and allowed Aguirre to march forward behind well-timed overhand right hands. In the third round, Viloria backed into a neutral corner, where Aguirre worked him over with winging shots from different angles.

In round four, Viloria went back to leading with his jab and following up with hard, fast right hands. His aggressiveness forced Aguirre to back off and move around the ring, but the veteran remained game and dangerous, consistently punching and looking for a home for his right hand.

In the fifth round, Viloria hurt Aguirre with a counter hook but appeared to let the 30-year-old former titlist off the hook in the second part of the round. In the sixth, Viloria hurt Aguirre again with a concentrated body attack, but again appeared to take his foot off the gas pedal in the final minute of the round, allowing Aguirre score with power shots as he backed up and tried to counter punch off the ropes.

After a close seventh round, Viloria found his second wind and began to dictate the pace of the fight by sticking and moving on the outside. For the final five rounds, Viloria used his superior speed and picked his spots to jump in and out of range and get off with quick combinations that badly bloodied the nose of Aguirre, who dropped to 33-5-1 (20), his third loss in a row.

While Viloria clearly deserved the unanimous decision, which he won by scores of 116-112 (twice) and 117-111, it's also clear that the 25-year-old 2000 U.S. Olympian still has a lot to learn. He needs to be more consistent with his jab and body attack, and he needs to press the action when he has the advantage and not willingly back up to the ropes. Viloria has a bad habit of landing one or two good shots and then stepping back to admire his work.

He can't do that against a monster like Jorge Arce, Arum's popular Mexican flyweight. Viloria and his trainer Freddie Roach know this but are confident that he will improve with every outing from this point on. The big "little" fights at 108 and 112 pounds aren't far off, they say.

"Let's do business, Arce," Viloria said. "We can be the Michael Carbajal-Chiquita Gonzalez of this era."

In the first televised bout of Arum's pay-per-view show, WBO 105-pound champ Ivan Calderon was able to assume the role of the aggressor, rare for the light-punching stick-and-move specialist, against the battle-worn Isaac Bustos, a painfully slow former WBC strawweight title holder.

Calderon, one of the best pure boxers in the game, did what he usually does against Bustos -- he pitched a near shutout, winning by scores of 120-108 (twice) and 119-109.

The only difference this time is that Calderon, now 25-0 (5), did more sticking than moving as he found the leathery face of Bustos to be an all too easy target for every punch in his arsenal.

Bustos, who was game but grossly out-classed, fell to 24-8-3 (13). Calderon, who has been mentioned as a future opponent for Brian Viloria, made the eighth defense of his WBO title with the one-sided victory.

In a special six-round attraction, junior welterweight prospect Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. improved to 24-0-1 (18) and avenged the only blemish on his record with six-round majority decision over Carlos Molina, who held the son of the all-time great Mexican champ to a draw last December. Chavez, who won by scores of 57-57 and 58-56 (twice), was troubled by Molina's hand speed and combination punching in the first round of the bout, but beginning with the second round "Junior" stayed on top of his game foe and began turning the bout into match of infighting.

By the third round, Chavez was landing accurate head shots in between Molina's often wide hooks and crosses. In rounds four and five, Chavez punished Molina with an educated and accurate left hand, turning the jab into a left uppercut and doubling up with the hook. The two traded bombs in the sixth round, and Molina got in a hard hook-cross combination, ensuring a close fight on the scorecards.

However, many in the crowd thought the nod should have gone the other way, booed the decision and cheered for Molina, who dropped to 8-2-1 (4).

On the non-televised undercard:

Junior middleweight prospect Vanes Martirosyan improved to 7-0 (4) with a second-round technical knockout of Juan Montes De Oca. Martiroysan connected with a wicked uppercut near the end of the second round that not only dropped De Oca, who also suffered a flash knockdown in the first round, but apparently broke the tough journeyman's nose. Blood spattered on impact of the uppercut and De Oca's nose literally poured blood for the rest of the round and during the beginning of the third before referee Jay Nady waved the contest off at 1:21 of the round on the advice of the ringside physician. De Oca, who was game throughout, dropped to 6-9-2 (3).

Lightweight contender Almazbek "Kid Diamond" Raiymkulov improved to 21-1-1 (13) with a third-round disqualification victory over Jose Quintana. Referee Jay Nady waved the contest off at 1:43 of round three after the Puerto Rican journeyman connected with what must have been his 10th intentional low blow. Quintana, who dropped to 12-11-2 (7), was never in the fight and was absorbing a lot of punishment from Raiymkulov in the form of accurate body punches and heavy right crosses. This was Raiymkulov's first bout since suffering his only loss, a 10th-round stoppage to Nate Campbell last October, and the Las Vegas-based native of Kyrgyzstan looked sharp.

Welterweight journeyman Jesus Soto Karass improved to 13-3-2 (10) with a hard-fought, bloody eight-round decision over rugged Fernando Mena. Karass, who stunned Mena many times during the fight, but was often out-muscled by his heavy handed foe, won by scores of 78-74 (twice) and 77-75. Mena, who dropped to 17-8-2 (15), suffered nasty cuts over his left eye, in his mouth and on the back of head.

In a swing bout, welterweight novices Ramon Montano and Vicente Garcia put on an entertaining four-round scrap won by the local lad, Montano, who improved to 9-2-1 by scores of 40-36 (twice) and 39-37. Garcia, of Albuquerque, dropped to 10-4 (6).