INDIO, Calif. -- Proving it was no fluke, Andrew Cancio once again got the best of Alberto Machado on Friday night, as he retained his WBA "regular" 130-pound title by halting the former champion -- whom he defeated in February in their initial encounter.
This time, it took only three rounds.
Like their first fight, it was the body attack that punctured the resolve of Machado (21-2, 17 KOs), who attempted to limit the amount of exchanges early on. Having a decided advantage in height and reach, the plan for Machado was to keep Cancio (21-4-2, 15 KOs) at bay on the outside and make this contest into more of a boxing match after getting stopped in four by Cancio in February.
But a more confident Cancio didn't need as long this time around.
"I'm here to stay; it's not a fluke. I did this twice and you got to see the new and improved Andrew Cancio," said the victor.
In their first go-around, Machado was able to floor Cancio in the first round, but Friday night he was quickly drawn into a trench battle with the hard-nosed man from Blythe, California, who has a full-time job working the jackhammer for the Southern California Gas Co. Eventually a steady barrage of body blows had Machado on the floor three times in the fourth round, and in stunning fashion, he had lost his title.
It was a bit of a surprise when Machado decided to enforce the rematch clause. He vowed that he would be a more focused fighter this time around and that he would even the score. But after a relatively effective first round, during which he did box well from the perimeter of the ring, once again, he was drawn into exchanges in the midrange from the tenacious Cancio.
It was evident that the body blows took the air out of Machado. By the end of the second frame, Machado was wobbly and unsteady on his feet. Despite suffering a cut over his left eye from a clash of heads, nothing would stop Cancio's momentum.
Cancio stepped up the attack in the third and stalked Machado. A perfectly placed left hook to the body had him on the floor, gasping for air and eventually counted out by referee Raul Caiz Jr.
"It feels good. I was going for the head, and the body was there, and I took it. I'm here to stay at 130 -- it's not a fluke -- and I'm ready for the other champions," said Cancio, who has clearly established himself as one of the premier junior lightweights in the world.
But despite being a world champion, Cancio still has a day job to go to.
"Yeah, I'll be back at work on Monday," he said.
Soto beats Acosta in controversial stoppage
Elwin Soto scored a 12th-round stoppage against Angel Acosta to capture the WBO junior flyweight title. As they entered the final round, Acosta was ahead on all three scorecards, 105-103, 106-102 and 107-101, in what was an entertaining scrap.
The stoppage will be debated, but there's no denying how dramatic this contest was.
"The truth is, I feel nice. It feels great to accomplish this. I worked very hard, and put a lot of effort into this," said Soto, who pulled off the improbable upset.
It was a pitched battle from the very beginning as both Acosta (20-2, 15 KOs) and Soto (15-1, 11 KOs) exchanged heavy punches from the onset, and it was Soto who took an early lead as he sent Acosta to the canvas in the second round with a left hook-right hand combination.
While Acosta was able to weather the storm, he was hurt again in the fourth from an overhand right.
But to his credit, Acosta steadied himself and began to control the fight with a consistent two-fisted attack that was keyed by a multitude of left hooks to the body, uppercuts down the middle and right hands over the top. Soto was shaken on several occasions, and it seemed going into the championship rounds that Acosta would be retaining his belt with his strong finishing kick.
As the bell sounded for the final round, all Acosta had to do was finish on his feet and he would go back to Puerto Rico with his belt. But instead he decided to close in on Soto in aggressive fashion, and Soto landed a big left hook off the ropes that had Acosta reeling and nearly out on his feet. As a few more blows were landed, referee Thomas Taylor called off the fight at 23 seconds of the round.
"I'm a little disappointed," said Acosta. "Sure, he hurt me, but not enough for the stoppage."
The disappointed former champion added,"I told the ref he shouldn't have stopped the fight. I was coming back to get him, but he shouldn't have stopped the fight. Look, it was the last round, there was not much more in the round."
At the end of the night, it was Acosta who outlanded Soto 230 to 162, but it was the challenger from Mexico who landed the punch that really counted.
"To be honest, I thought I was going to lose, and thank God I landed that punch and won the fight," said Soto.