Undefeated junior middleweight prospect Jermell Charlo needed a knockout to rekindle the excitement in his march to a 154-pound title following his last bout – a tepid 12-round decision over Demetrius Hopkins – and he got one in the main event of a Golden Boy Live! card on Monday in Sunrise, Fla., but it didn’t come easy.
Charlo’s opponent Jose Rodriguez was a tall, rangy, rugged and crafty southpaw who came to win their Fox Sports 1-televised fight, so the 23-year-old Houston native had to work hard and endure numerous awkward moments before closing the show in the 10th round.
Charlo (22-0, 11 knockouts), the faster and more technically sharp boxer, was the aggressor for most of the fight and the more accurate power puncher. Rodriguez, who got his jab off in spots and landed enough clean shots to be in the fight, was stunned in the first and fifth rounds before Charlo staggered him into the ropes one minute into the 10th round.
Rodriquez (17-3-1, 2 KOs) was hurt badly enough to prompt the referee to issue a 10 count even though he wasn’t dropped. The 34-year-old New Yorker said he was able to continue but Charlo jumped on him and quickly proved otherwise, forcing the ref to wave the fight off at 1:41 of the round.
In the co-featured bout, undefeated welterweight prospect Errol Spence Jr. outpointed Emmanuel Lartey over eight rounds by unanimous scores of 79-73. It was the toughest pro bout for the talented 2012 U.S. Olympian from Dallas, Texas.
Spence (9-0, 7 KOs), a quick and powerful left-hander who had won his last four bouts by first-round knockout, was taken the eight-round distance for the first time by the 32-year-old southpaw from Brooklyn.
Though Spence clearly outclassed Lartey, repeatedly stunning the strong and durable Ghanaian with left hands in the early rounds, but the unbeaten African junior welterweight champ held on to survive, fired back in spots, and sucked it up while absorbing punishment along the ropes during the middle rounds.
Just when it seemed that Lartey was completely helpless against Spence’s in and out movement and blistering one-two combinations, he landed a body shot near the end of the seventh before rocking Spence with a big right hook at the bell.
Lartey (16-1, 8 KOs) came forward for most of the eighth round, forcing Spence to stand his ground in the final minute of the fight.
In the opening bout of the broadcast, junior featherweight prospect Rau’shee Warren outboxed 36-year-old Colombian journeyman Jhon Molina en route to a four-round unanimous decision.
Warren (8-0, 3 KOs; 16-0 counting his World Series of Boxing bouts) dropped Molina in the first round and won by unanimous scores of 40-35. Molina’s record fell to 30-25-3 with 19 KOs.