LOS ANGELES -- WBO 130-pound title holder Jorge Barrios improved to 46-2-1 (33 knockouts) on Saturday night after landing a single left hook to the rib cage of Janos Nagy, who was immediately shocked by the well-placed body shot and took a semi-voluntary knee for a 9½-count from referee Raul Caiz Jr., who waved the bout off when the Hungarian challenger stumbled hunched over into the ropes behind him.
The left-hook body shot was the second solid punch landed by Barrios, who ended the fight 49 seconds into the first round.
"It was the same shot that Bernard [Hopkins] hit Oscar [De La Hoya] with," Barrios said. (Actually, the wayward Argentine's punch was more to the right front side of Nagy's ribcage than to the liver, as Hopkins' decisive punch was in his 2004 knockout of the Golden Boy -- but the end result was the same.)
"It was definitely a legal punch," said a dejected Nagy, now 23-1 (14 KOs). "I've never been hit like that before. I wanted to go on but I was not able to. [The punch] knocked the wind completely out of me."
In another bout, Filipino phenom Rey Bautista improved to 20-0 (15 KOs) with a third-round stoppage of hard-nosed Nicaraguan journeyman Robert Bonilla in a junior featherweight bout scheduled for 10 rounds.
Bautista attacked the veteran from the opening bell, working Bonilla (23-8, 14 KOs) with both hands. The 19-year-old prospect settled down in the second round, adding a little footwork and combination punching to his assault, but in the third round Bautista resumed his sometimes reckless fury.
However, Bonilla, who has held regional titles at 115 pounds and battled world champs, stood and exchanged with the youngster at the start of the round, holding his own until Bautista landed a vicious low blow followed by a right hand that brought the rugged Nicaraguan to his knees.
Referee Pat Russell gave Bonilla the customary five minutes to recover, but the veteran returned to battle after about only 90 seconds, and the junior featherweights battled toe-to-toe (with Bautista landing harder blows, including a pair of monster right hands to the face that the Nicaraguan amazingly absorbed) until the teenager got in a right hand to the body that nearly cut the older fighter in half.
Bonilla crumpled to the canvas and remained on his hands and knees until Russell's count reached nine before attempting to get up -- but it was clear that he had had enough, and the veteran California referee wisely waved the contest off at 2:36 of the round.
The management of Bautista, who is rated No. 1 in the WBO at 118 pounds, announced that their talented kid will now compete at the junior featherweight division and that they have targeted the WBO's 122-pound title holder, Daniel Ponce DeLeon, who was ringside.
It might be a good idea to allow the young man more time to develop before challenging a fighter as tough and strong as DeLeon, who will defend his belt against unbeaten Alejandro Barrera next Saturday. Bautista is a formidable offensive fighter, but he still needs some seasoning (particularly in the defense department) before going for a world title.
Lincoln Heights' Jose Armando Santa Cruz won the WBC's "interim" lightweight title with a one-sided pounding of Japan's Chikashi Inada, who was stopped 2:08 into the sixth round when referee Jack Reiss decided that the game but outgunned visitor had absorbed enough punishment.
Santa Cruz (23-1, 13 KOs) patiently stalked the constantly moving Inada through the first two rounds of the bout before finding his range with hard jabs and right crosses that battered the face of the Tokyo-based fighter in the third and fourth rounds.
In the fifth round, Inada (19-3, 14 KOs) stood his ground and traded heavy leather with Santa Cruz to the delight of the crowd. However, Inada's already swollen face caught the worst of the toe-to-toe exchanges in the final minute of the round, as Santa Cruz teed off with crosses and uppercuts that snapped Inada's head back.
The tall, rangy lightweights continued to slug it out in the sixth round, but Inada's lack of physical strength and punching power made it nearly impossible for him to get Santa Cruz's respect. Reiss stepped in after a hard exchange to spare Inada's face more damage.
Santa Cruz's trainer/manager, Rudy Hernandez, said that as soon as the June 3 rubber match between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo (which is for the real WBC lightweight title) is over (both veterans are expected to jump to the 140-pound division after the fight), his fighter will be declared the WBC 135-pound titlist.
According to Hernandez, Santa Cruz will not have to fight the WBC's No. 2 contender, former two-time titlist Sirimongkol Singwangcha of Thailand, who was originally scheduled to fight Inada.
"From what I've been told, the Thai guy has Hepatitis B so he won't be fighting for some time," Hernandez said. "So we want to get a name in the ring. Erik Morales is our first choice. He wants to try and win a world title in a fourth weight class, so let him come and try it with Armando."
In a six-round lightweight bout featuring undefeated prospects from the Los Angeles area, Shadi Hamsho, originally from Sweden, outboxed the game Armando Dorantes in an entertaining unanimous decision. Hamsho improved to 6-0 (1 KO). Dorantes dropped to 5-1.
In a six-round junior lightweight contest, Jozef Nagy, brother of Janos, won a pedestrian unanimous decision over Connecticut-based journeyman Julio Jean. Nagy improved to 14-0 (11 KOs). Jean dropped to 7-9-1 (3 KOs).
In a four-round swing bout, Oxnard's Miguel Reza scored two knockdowns on his way to a one-sided unanimous decision over hard-headed (and head-first charging) Hector Reynoso of Riverside. Reza, who suffered a bad cut on the side of his right eye in the final round (due to a headbutt), improved to 2-0 (1 KO). Reynoso dropped to 1-3.