Julio Cesar Martinez defended his WBC World Flyweight title with a brutal sixth round stoppage win over Joel Cordova at the Dome Alcalde – CODE Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico, live worldwide on DAZN.
Wrecking machine Martinez (18-1 14 KOs) was making the third defense of his title, but Cordova (12-5-2 3 KOs) began the fight in fine style and was giving Martinez a stern examination in the first third of the bout – before the tide changed dramatically and quickly.
A left hook in the fifth stunned Cordova and although the challenger rode that well, a mirror image of the shot floored him early in the sixth round put Cordova on the floor – and Martinez was ruthless as he went in for the kill and forced the referee to halt the contest and record a dominant stoppage win.
“I am grateful with the team and we’re aiming to stay at Flyweight and unify the titles,” said Martinez. “I am so happy my family and my fans are here in Mexico for me and to support me this evening.
“He was as tough as I expected, a great fighter and we’re all here to win, so all respect to him. Now I want to unify next.”
“I believe JCM is the best 112 pound fighter in the world,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “He’s certainly the most exciting, he just throws with you, he wants you to throw. You don’t see KOs in the lighter divisions, but you do with him.
“I think this kid is a superstar, Eddy Reynoso is behind him, we’re behind him, this kid is going all the way. I think he should unify first at Flyweight whether that’s Sunny Edwards, Artem Dalakian, Junto Nakatani, and then up to Super-Flyweight and then up to Bantamweight over time. A fight with Juan Francisco Estrada is a super-fight in Mexico, and we’ll see Martinez back out in September.”
Daniel Matellon retained the interim WBA World Flyweight title with a unanimous points win over Jose Argumedo.
Argumedo was cut by the left eye in the second round from an accidental head clash and then over the right eye and also the forehead as the Mexican poured forward from the off, and the constant flow of blood seemed to make Argumedo put the foot down harder in the first half of the fight.
Matellon remained patient and measured throughout though and was able to weather the storms and pick Argumedo off and was given the nod 117-111 and 115-113 (twice) on the cards.
Christian Alan Gomez Duran (20-2-1 18 KOs) recorded a stunning KO to end a thrilling back and forth contest with Jorge Perez Sanchez (13-1 5 KOs) in the ninth round of a scheduled ten.
Gomez landed the first round and had an electrifying second round where a pair of left hooks floored Sanchez and Gomez went in for the kill, landing a big uppercut to have Perez Sanchez just about surviving the round.
Sanchez recovered well and had a good third and fourth rounds, but again, Gomez was able to find the key shot, a left hook to the body that troubled Perez Sanchez in the fifth.
The story of the fight continued that path, as Perez Sanchez recovered and threatened to take over but was always wary of Gomez’s power, and in the ninth round, Gomez unleashed a huge right uppercut to end a fantastic fight.
Diego Pacheco (12-0 9 KOs) promised to shine and did just that in Mexico – getting some valuable rounds and being tested by unbeaten Jesus Moroyoqui (7-1-1 4 KOs), but getting his jab working, having a huge fifth round and then closing the show in the sixth round of his second eight round fight in the paid ranks.
Gabriel Valenzuela (24-2-1 14 KOs) kicked the night off with victory over the game Juan Ocura (14-14-2 6 KOs). Valenzuela, who came into the bout off the back of a fine win over Robbie Davies Jr in London in February, and he landed a crisp right uppercut at the end of third round to floor Ocura.
Ocura bravely got back to his feet and gave as good as he got but was ultimately stopped with just under a minute left in the seventh round by Valenzuela.
Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom
Canelo Alvarez (54-1-2 36 KOs) makes a rapid return to the ring at the home of the Miami Dolphins, taking on his WBC mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim (21-2 12 KOs), with the WBC, WBA Super and Ring Magazine titles on the line.
The Mexican pound-for-pound king defeated Callum Smith in clinical fashion in San Antonio, Texas in December and the 30 year old looks to stamp his authority on the division, with Hearn looking at pitting Canelo against WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders next should Canelo win.
“It’s great to see Canelo so active, especially in the world we live in at the moment, I think it’s a real statement from him,” said Hearn. “He’s mixing it up by fighting in Miami at the Hard Rock Stadium, to be promoting Canelo at the home of the Miami Dolphins is pretty special. We’re going to have around 15,000 in there, Avni is the mandatory challenger and it’s a great opportunity for him and a big opportunity for Canelo to stay active hopefully before a big Billy Joe Saunders fight and on a huge night on February 27.”
Chief support on the night comes in the form of Canelo’s stablemate Julio Cesar Martinez defending his WBA World Flyweight title against his mandatory challenger, McWilliams Arroyo. Martinez (17-1 13 KOs) has been frustrated by injury ruling him out of two previously scheduled defenses, so Hearn expects the pintsized tyro to be at his thrilling best in a classic Mexican-Puerto Rican war with Arroyo (20-4 15 KOs).
“Julio Cesar Martinez is special,” said Hearn. “I think he can go through everyone in the division and even move up to Super-Flyweight and start looking at Estrada and Chocolatito, he’s so exciting and I can’t wait to see him in February 27.
“He will fight anyone, and Eddy Reynoso is confident in his ability. He was supposed to fight on the Canelo card in December so he should be hungry. Arroyo was a fantastic amateur with good pedigree and he’s a smart fighter, but I think that the footwork, strength and unpredictability of Julio will see him victorious.”
Elsewhere on the bill….
Zhilei Zhang (22-0 17 KOs) faces Jerry Forrest (26-4 20 KOs) over ten rounds: “I’m really excited about Zhilei Zhang, he punches very hard and he’s something different for the division. Forrest is a good Heavyweight and I expect a stunning KO and hopefully it’s from our man Zhang. I think he is getting to the point now where Zhilei needs to fight some of the guys in the top 15 like Derek Chisora, Joseph Parker, Filip Hrgovic and so on.”
Marc Castro (1-0 1 KO) faces Raul Corona (4-2-3 1 KO) over four rounds: “Marc was waiting for so long for that debut that he was a little over-excited in the first round, but when he settled down his shots were fantastic, and I loved the aggression from him. The kid is a star and it’s a big opportunity to have his second fight on a second Canelo card.
Diego Pacheco (10-0 8 KOs) faces Rodolfo Gomez Jr (14-4-1 10 KOs) over eight rounds: “Diego is still so young that you want to hold him back, but we have to progress him forward and we have done so on this card. It’s a big step up and he’s getting a great wave of support growing, Diego is a big star. Sparring is so important for young fighters and Diego is getting great sparring with the likes of Canelo and David Benavidez; Diego has been out for a while, but I expect a big performance.
Alexis Espino (6-0 4 KOs) faces Ashton Sykes (5-3 1 KO) over six rounds: “Alexis has had a nightmare with injury and then COVID, it was a frustrating 2020 but he’s out of that now and onto a busy 2021. He’s a good puncher, exciting and someone that in one or two more fights he’ll be ready to step up.”
Keyshawn Davis makes his pro debut against Lester Brown (4-2-3 1 KO) over four rounds: “When we announced Keyshawn was on the bill, I got 20 or so messages from amateurs and pros saying ‘this kid is the real deal’. It’s the biggest platform in boxing and Keyshawn is ready to go.
Aaron Aponte (1-0 1 KO) faces Harry Gigliotti (6-1 3 KOs) over four rounds: “It’s always great to have local talent on bills. Aaron has sold lots of tickets, I met him at our GGG show in December. Good amateur, tall, good looking, and with these guys you don’t know how they are going to progress, so you give them the platform and wait and see.”
The next action for Matchroom in the USA comes two weeks later and it doesn’t get much bigger than the mouth-watering rematch between Estrada (41-3 28 KOs) and Chocolatito (50-2 41 KOs).
The pair first clashed in November 2012 in Los Angeles, with Chocolatito successfully defending his WBA Light-Flyweight title via unanimous decision, and now over eight years later, they will meet again for the WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine World Super-Flyweight titles in a fight that has Hearn salivating.
“This is a great card, probably one of the best we’ve ever done,” said Hearn. “Everyone in boxing knows Estrada-Chocolatito is one of the fights of the year before the bell has rung – two legends, pound-for-pound greats, in a unification fight – this is everything that’s great about boxing. Juan Francisco wants to avenge his defeat and unify the division, but Chocolatito, who sprung back to life against Kal Yafai, has other ideas. The winner will fight Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, providing the Thai star is victorious on home turf the same weekend.”
Chief support action is provided by a rematch for the undisputed Welterweight World championship – repeat or revenge as Jessica McCaskill defends the belts against Cecilia Brækhus. McCaskill (9-2 3 KOs) ripped the titles from Brækhus (36-1 9 KOs) on the streets of downtown Tulsa in August, with the Chicagoan becoming a two-weight World champion in just her 11th pro fight and handing the Norwegian star her first career defeat.
“Jessica doesn’t get the credit she deserves,” said Hearn. “She took on Katie Taylor when she was vastly inexperienced and gave her one of her toughest fights. Came back to win the World title in Chicago and she’s never turned down a challenge, she unified the division and beat Cecilia to become undisputed at 147lbs. Jessica is a star, but Cecilia looks like she’s got the bit between her teeth and this is her last chance.”
There’s a Matchroom debut on the card for Hiroto Kyoguchi as he defends his WBA and Ring Magazine World Light-Flyweight titles against Axel Vega. Kyoguchi (14-0 9 KOs) defends the titles for the third time against Vega (14-3-1 8 KOs), and Hearn is looking forward to introducing the 27 year old to a global audience.
“Kyoguchi is a top pound-for-pound boxer, the number one in the Light Flyweight division and such a good fighter,” said Hearn. “Vera is an all-action guy and Kyoguchi is a class act so this will be a great fight – we would love to do something in Japan with him, but the plan is to unify the division and probably move up to Flyweight and you are going to enjoy watching him fight on an amazing card.”
Julio Cesar Martinez will defend his WBC World Flyweight title against McWilliams Arroyo as the chief support to Canelo Alvarez’s defense of his WBC, WBA Super and Ring Magazine World Super-Middleweight titles on Saturday February 27 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, live worldwide on DAZN (except Mexico).
Martinez (17-1 13 KOs) puts his title on the line for the third time since landing the belt in December 2019 in a thrilling stoppage win over Cristofer Rosales, outpointing Jay Harris in Dallas in February and blasting away Moises Calleros in two rounds in Mexico City in October.
The all-action Mexican is raring to finally face his mandatory challenger Arroyo after having to pull out of a proposed clash with the Puerto Rican through illness in August. It is a huge night for the all-action champion, who turns 26 on Wednesday, as he finally gets to fight as the chief support to his stablemate Alvarez, whom he also shares a trainer and manager in Eddy Reynoso, after illness ruled him out of fighting on his card in December in San Antonio.
“I am so happy to be back in the ring again and I promise you a war with Arroyo in Miami,” said Martinez. “With the unification fights ahead of me, it is important to take care of my mandatory challengers and I expect a tough fight with Arroyo. I believe that 2021 will see me unify the division and become undisputed and I can’t wait put a smile back on boxing fans faces.”
Arroyo (20-4 15 KOs) has been ready to pounce on his shot at the title and win a World strap at the third time of asking. The decorated Puerto Rican amateur was edged out via split decision by IBF champion Amnat Ruenroeng in September 2014 and then fell to pound-for-pound star Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez in April 2016 for the WBC and Ring Magazine crowns in California.
The 34 year old ranked at number one in the WBC enters the bout on the back of three wins in 2019 having returned to Flyweight from a brief stint at Super-Fly, and the former World Amateur Champion is determined to end the talented Mexican’s reign in Miami.
“Finally, the fight is near, and I am sure the fans will enjoy another classic between Mexico and Puerto Rico,” said Arroyo.
A stacked undercard in support of Alvarez also sees Chinese Heavyweight star Zhilei Zhang make a quick return to action over ten rounds against Jerry Forrest.
Zhang (22-0 17 KOs) is back in the sunshine state after stopping Devin Vargas in four rounds in their clash in Hollywood, Fl. in November, and the 37 year old giant will look to take another step towards securing a huge fight in the glamour division with victory over Forrest (26-4 20 KOs), who took Carlos Takam the distance in his last outing in July.
“I’m very excited about this fight,” said Zhang. “February 27 is the highest profile card of the first quarter of 2021, and it will be an honor to be part of it. I can’t wait to get in the ring and wish the best of luck to my opponent Jerry Forrest. I am training full force. I will be ready.”
“Zhang is a good fighter with great size and technique, but I’ll be ready for this fight,” said Forrest. “2021 is a new beginning for me. Covid has made training difficult with many gyms shut down, but I’ve stayed in shape since my last fight. I’m now up at my manager’s gym in Ashburn, Virginia, and my trainers have been creating a game plan while bringing in sparring partners to match Zhang’s size and style. I’m excited about this opportunity and am looking forward to ending Zhang’s unbeaten streak.”
A host of young talents get the chance to shine on the card, led by Diego Pacheco. The rangy teen has raced to 10-0 with eight wins inside the distance, and the Super-Middleweight sensation will look to add another impressive win when he takes on Rodolfo Gomez Jr (14-4-1 10KOs) over eight rounds.
“I am excited to be back under the bright lights,” said Pacheco. “2021, it’s time to show everyone I’m here and I’m a problem for anyone at 168 pounds.”
Alexis Espino (6-0 4 KOs) had a frustrating end to 2020 after losing out on two fights, but the 21 year old is ready to put that behind him and get 2021 off to a flier against Ashton Sykes (5-3 KOs)
“I am more than ready to fight on this amazing card and show what I been working on aside from the time I spent away,” said Espino. “it was a frustrating time for me at the end of 2020, but I am itching to finally show how much work I have been putting into this since I haven’t been in the ring due to recent cancellations.”
Former amateur sensation Marc Castro got his pro career off to the perfect start on Canelo’s undercard in San Antonio with a KO win, and the Fresno star goes again in Miami against Lester Brown (4-2-3 1 KO).
“I am ready to get back in the ring and I want thank God and my team for making it possible for being a part of the pound-for-pound king Canelo’s undercard once again,” said Castro.
Another successful amateur making his second appearance in the paid ranks is Miami’s own Aaron Aponte. The 19 year old won via stoppage on debut in October, and Aponte will showcase the his talents on a huge platform in his hometown.
“I’m super excited to be fighting at the Hard Rock Stadium on February 27 on the undercard of boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez” said Aponte. “It’s an honor to fight on such a massive event in my hometown and I’m very grateful to Matchroom and DAZN along with my manager Peter Kahn and the Fight Game Advisors Team for this opportunity. Stay tuned for the rise of Aaron ‘Alien King’ Aponte!!”
“This is a stacked undercard in support of the pound-for-pound king,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Julio Cesar Martinez is fast becoming a must-see attraction in the sport and an impressive win here will take him to another level – but McWilliams Arroyo is up for the challenge and is a dangerman.
“Zhilei Zhang can stake his claim for a massive fight at Heavyweight later in the year with victory over Jerry Forrest, and it is fantastic for the young talents on the card to be able to perform on this huge stage.”
Julio Cesar Martinez will defend his WBC World Flyweight title against Francisco Rodriguez Jr on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez’s World title clash with Callum Smith at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday December 19, live on DAZN in 200+ countries and territories worldwide and on TV Azteca in Mexico.
Martinez (17-1 13 KOs) puts the famous green and gold strap on the line for the third time and comes into the bout fresh from a savage second round KO win over Moises Calleros in Mexico City in October.
The Mexican talent is quickly becoming a must-watch fighter with his all-action style guaranteeing excitement and the 25 year old returns to Texas having beaten British challenger Jay Harris over 12 rounds in Arlington in February.
On a huge night for Mexican boxing with pound-for-pound king Alvarez back in action, Rodriguez Jr. (33-4-1 24 KOs) will be aiming to rip the belt from his fellow countryman in his second World title fight. The 27 year old, ranked #2 in the WBC, landed the WBC Latino title at Super-Flyweight in his last outing in November 2019, picking up the 24th KO win of his career over Jose Maria Cardenas.
“I’m here in San Diego preparing and I’m very excited to be here,” said Martinez. “I’m completing almost two months of camp. I’m so honored to be fighting on the undercard of Saul. I’m going to leave everything to God as always and have faith that he’ll ensure it all goes well. Hopefully that night I’ll get a knockout.
“We know that this guy is very strong, that he’s coming very well prepared. It’s going to be a tough fight but we know as always we’ve prepared 1000 per cent and we have no fear. Going to leave everything in the ring. I still have three kilos to lose but I have two, almost three weeks left to lose that. I’m excited and anxious.
“I’m appreciative of everything from Mr. Eddie Hearn and Matchroom for all of their support. I want to also thank Eddy Reynoso and my trainer Mauricio Aceves who are always so attentive as well as my family. “Somos con todos menos con miedo”. Blessings”
“I want to thank Martínez and his team as well as Matchroom for giving me this opportunity,” said Rodriguez Jr. “It is a pleasure to fight in the biggest card of the year. Martinez is a solid champion and a good fighter but with all due respect he hasn’t fought someone like me, I been waiting for this shot for almost five years and it comes at a perfect timing – I won’t waste it,”
“Julio Cesar Martinez is arguably the most exciting pound-for-pound fighter in boxing right now and this is the perfect stage to continue his ride,” said Eddie Hearn. “This is perhaps the toughest challenge of his career right now and the fans in Texas can expect a Mexican war for the WBC World title on December 19.”
Martinez’s clash with Rodriguez is part of a huge night of action in Texas, topped by Alvarez once against reaching for greatness, challenging WBA and Ring Magazine World champion Smith – and more undercard fights will be announced later this week.