By: William Holmes
The number of media in Las Vegas to cover tonight’s Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao bout is gigantic as many who were used to covering the bout inside the MGM Grand Arena when in Las Vegas had to be regulated to either the spacious yet crowded media tent or the cramped studio rooms outside the arena doors.
Two bouts were on the televised portion of the undercard as Vasyl Lomachenko faced Gamalier Rodriguez for Lomachenko’s WBO Featherweight championship and Leo Santa Cruz put his undefeated record on the line against Jose Cayetano in the featherweight division.
The opening bout of the night was between Vasyl Lomachenko (3-1) and Gamalier Rodriguez (25-2-3) for Lomachenko’s WBO Featherweight Title.
Lomachenko is a southpaw and Rodriguez fought out of an orthodox stance. Lomachenko was hesitant with his offense in the first round, but was able to land an occasional jab. Rodriguez found some success with hooks to the body and at one point connected with a right hook to the head left hook to the body combination.
Lomachenko opened up the second round with a straight left to the body, and later followed it up with a straight left to the head followed by a right jab. Rodriguez was able to connect with a straight right over the top of Lomachenko’s jab to the body, but Lomachenko had the best punch of the round with a lead left uppercut followed by a triple jab.
Lomachenko began to open up more in the third round and was able to land quick pop shots and then deftly move out of the way before Rodriguez could capitalize with a counter. Rodriguez was able to land a few shots, but it appeared Lomachenko was beginning to find his rhythm.
Before the start of the fourth round, Rodriguez could be heard telling his corner that he has having problems with his hand. Lomachenko opened up his offensive attack even more in the fourth and was landing combinations at will. He opened up a cut over the right eye of Rodriguez. Lomachenko ended the fourth round with a great combination right hook and a hard uppercut.
Rodriguez lost a point in the fifth round, but it mattered little as Lomachenko was widely leading on the scorecards and was turning Rodriguez and landing punches for fun.. Lomachenko’s best combination in the fifth round was a double left hook to the head.
Lomachenko’s domination continued in the sixth round, but he was warned by the referee for a low blow that he threw in retaliation for a low blow by Rodriguez. Lomachenko scored a knockdown in the seventh after a combination to the body that forced Rodriguez to take one knee, but the latter man was able to get back to his feet at the count of eight and survive the round.
Rodriguez was deducted another point for a low blow in the ninth round and he was peppered with a variety of punches from a variety of angles in the entire round. By the tenth round, the announcers were openly wondering if Rodriguez’s corner would stop the fight, as he got battered and went down for the second time of the night from two right hooks and stayed down for entire count.
Vasyl Lomachenko wins by knockout at 0:50 of the ninth round.
The final bout on the undercard was between Leon Santa Cruz (29-0-1) and Jose Cayetano (17-3) in the featherweight division. This was Santa Cruz’s first fight in the featherweight division, but Cayetano took the fight on a few weeks notice and Santa Cruz looked much larger than Cayetano at the fighter introductions.
Santa Cruz fought out of a traditional orthodox stance while Cayetano fought out of southpaw stance. Santa Cruz, in typical fashion, applied the pressure early on and was moving behind his jab and attempted to trap Cayetano in the corner. Santa Cruz at one point appeared to have stunned Cayetano by the corner with a two-punch combination, but Cayetano recovered and actually did a decent job countering Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz continued to use his size to his advantage in the second round and was landing hard right hands. Santa Cruz was moving Cayetano from corner to corner and applying incredible pressure, but Cayetano somehow was able to stay on his feet.
Santa Cruz continued to pound Cayetano whenever he was by the ropes in the third round and landed hard body and head combinations. Cayetano was able to land some shots of his own, but Santa Cruz was able to shake those off easily.
Cayetano had no answer for Santa Cruz’s pressure in the fourth and fifth rounds as both boxers switched stances from orthodox to southpaw and back again consistently, but it was Santa Cruz who was landing an incredibly high number of punches and was moving towards a clean sweep on the scorecards. There was a quick stoppage in the fifth round to cut some loose tape on Santa Cruz’s glove.
By the sixth round, Santa Cruz’s domination was so complete the announcers spent most of the time talking about a potential matchup with Abner Mares in the featherweight division.
Santa Cruz’s high volume of punches and high work rate continued in the seventh and eighth round, but Cayetano was able to land some good counters in the eighth that made that round semi-competitive.
Cayetano clearly needed a stoppage in the final two rounds to win the fight and he showed incredible heart throughout the fight, but he was simply not on Santa Cruz’s level and was giving up too much in size.
The final scores were 100-90 on all three scorecards for Leo Santa Cruz.