- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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LOS ANGELES -- Shane Mosley and Sergio Mora fought in the main event Saturday night at Staples Center, but many of the mostly Hispanic fans who packed the arena for Golden Boy Promotions' Mexican bicentennial celebration card came to see phenom Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, one of Mexico's most popular fighters.
The 20-year-old gave them what they came for in the co-feature as he erased former welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir with a crushing sixth-round knockout in their junior middleweight bout.
Alvarez dominated the much slower Baldomir, 39, until unloading on him in the sixth round. As the raucous crowd was chanting, "Canelo! Canelo! Canelo," Alvarez landed a flush left hook to Baldomir's chin. He fell face first, hitting his face on the mat with a loud thud. Baldomir tried in vain to beat the count, but referee Jose Cobian counted him out at 2 minutes, 58 seconds, and the crowd erupted again.
"I told you guys I would come prepared for his experience," Alvarez said through a translator. "I didn't talk a lot. I just showed it. I came to give it my all. This is for Mexico and all of my fans. I was prepared and sometimes a knockout comes when you prepare for it. He wasn't very fast so that was favorable for me."
They fought at a contract weight of 151 pounds, although Baldomir missed weight on Friday, coming in at 153.4. Now, Alvarez (34-0-1, 26 KOs) wants to return to the 147-pound welterweight division, where he is more comfortable.
"I want to go back and fight at welterweight," he said. "I want to be a welterweight champion and I am going to do my best to be the best in the world."
Baldomir (45-13-6, 14 KOs), of Argentina, captured the boxing world's attention in 2006 when he upset against Zab Judah to become the undisputed welterweight champion and followed with an upset ninth-round knockout of the late Arturo Gatti. In his next fight, Baldomir lost a lopsided decision and the title to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
While he had that short run of glory, one thing has been a constant in his career -- his durable chin. Only once before had he been stopped, and that came in the second round in his seventh professional fight in 1994.
"It's true that he hits hard. He hits really hard," Baldomir said. "His power really surprised me. This kid is the real deal. And he's going to be a champion. No one has hit me like he hit me before. He knocked me out me and nobody (except one man) has ever knocked me out."
Ortiz crushes Harris
Junior welterweight contender Victor Ortiz (28-2-1, 22 KOs) destroyed former titleholder Vivian Harris (29-5-1, 19 KOs), dropping him four times en route to a third-round knockout and probably ending his career in terms of major fights.
And with that, Ortiz, 23, won the battle of fighters with the nickname "Vicious."
Ortiz, a former ESPN.com prospect of the year, knocked the 32-year-old Harris down three times in the second round. First it was a pair of left hands. Then it was a right to the jaw. Then came a combination.
Harris didn't look like he would last much longer and Ortiz knew it, coming right to him at the start of the third round. He finally put Harris away with a right hand followed by a right uppercut. Referee Raul Caiz Sr., without bothering to count, called it off at 45 seconds.
It was a triumphant return for Ortiz to Staples Center, where he suffered his lone defeat. In that upset, he slugged it out with Marcos Maidana in an all-action fight before quitting in the sixth round in June 2009. His reputation took a big hit for ending the fight the way he did, but he has climbed back with four consecutive wins, including against Harris and former lightweight titlist Nate Campbell in May.
By winning so easily, Ortiz could wind up on the HBO-televised undercard of junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan's defense against Maidana on Dec. 11 in Las Vegas with a shot at the winner looming.
"I progressed and learned a lot since the fight with Maidana and I still want him, wherever he is," Ortiz said. "I want a shot at any world champion. I'm not dodging anyone. I am ready for everyone. I listened to my team and I walked away with a victory."
Harris gave Ortiz credit for the win.
"He caught me with some great punches," Ortiz said. "He looked very different in this fight. He was very sharp and accurate."
• Featherweight Daniel Ponce De Leon (40-2, 33 KOs) scored a massive third-round knockout of Antonio Escalante (23-3, 15 KOs) in a title eliminator.
Ponce De Leon, a former junior featherweight titleholder from Mexico, won his sixth in a row since losing that belt on a first-round knockout to Juan Manuel Lopez in 2008. And now, with the win, Ponce De Leon, 30, is the mandatory challenger for Lopez, who now owns a featherweight belt.
That rematch could happen if Lopez retains his title against Rafael Marquez in their Nov. 6 fight.
Escalante was fighting Ponce De Leon on even terms through the first two rounds, but Ponce De Leon is known for concussive power and showed it in the third. He cracked Escalante, 25, of El Paso, Texas, with a left and followed with a flush right to the jaw that dropped Escalante hard and flat on his back. Referee Tony Crebs called off the fight without a count at 2 minutes, 40 seconds.
"My timing was off [at first], but I loosened up and got into my groove," Ponce De Leon said. "I didn't feel his punch at all. So my game plan worked perfectly. I want to fight for a world title again. I want to be a world champion again."
It was a bitterly disappointing loss for Escalante, who had been involved in some excellent action fights -- including his points win against Miguel Roman in February on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" -- and was closing in on his first title opportunity.
"He's an experienced fighter," Escalante said. "He's very powerful and strong. He deserved to win the fight."
• East Los Angeles junior welterweight Frankie Gomez (6-0, 6 KOs), one of Golden Boy Promotions' prized prospects, scored two knockdowns en route to a dominant third-round knockout of Las Vegas' Ricardo Calzada (2-3, 1 KOs).
Gomez, just 18, turned pro in April after a standout amateur career in which he was the 2009 U.S. national champion at 141 pounds and claimed a silver medal at the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Milan, Italy -- the only American to reach the finals -- in his first open tournament.
He had no problem with Calzada, whom he dropped and badly hurt with a left uppercut in the third round. Another flush left hand dropped Calzada during the follow-up attack, prompting referee Pat Russell to call it off without a count at 1 minute, 6 seconds.
• Junior middleweight prospect Keith Thurman (14-0, 13 KOs), who went down on the first punch of the fight, rallied to stop Quandray Robertson (15-10, 10 KOs) in the third round in a bit of a wild fight.
In the eventful first round, Robertson dropped Thurman hard with a left hook on the chin with the first punch, and, in the final seconds of the round, Thurman put together a combination that dropped Robertson, who was so upset about being knocked down that he pounded the canvas three times in disgust before beating the count.
A left hand put Robertson down again the second round, which Thurman dominated. As Thurman continued to pound Robertson, he taunted Thurman to hit him again. That's just what he did.
Thurman, a who just missed making the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, dominated the third round, too, until he finished the fight with a right uppercut that dropped Robertson, and referee Russell called it off without a count at 2 minutes, 40 seconds.
• Lightweight Sharif Bogere (17-0, 11 KOs), a five-time national amateur champion in his native Uganda before relocating to Henderson, Nev., stopped Mexico's Julian Rodriguez (17-20-4, 11 KOs) at 1:43 of the second round. The 21-year-old Bogere, who signed last week with Golden Boy, dropped Rodriguez, who was unsteady when he got to his feet and referee Raul Caiz Sr. called it off.
• Oxnard, Calif., lightweight David Rodela (15-3-4, 6 KOs) and Mexico's Juan Manuel Montiel (6-3-2, 1 KO) battled to a six-round majority draw. One judge had it for Rodela, 59-55. The other two had it 57-57.
• Kaliesha "Wild Wild" West (13-1-2, 4 KOs) of Moreno Valley, Calif., stopped Angel Gladney (6-3-1, 5 KOs) of Columbia, S.C., at 59 seconds of the seventh round to win a vacant women's bantamweight title.
Tune in here for undercard results from Shane Mosley-Sergio Mora.