After a split decision loss to Michael Perez in August of 2012, which was also his second loss in a row, Fidel Maldonado looked more like a pretender than a highly decorated prospect.
Eighteen months and five consecutive victories later, Maldonado seems to have righted a sinking ship and could now be taken seriously as a fighter to watch.
Maldonado stopped late-replacement John Nater after the fourth round of a scheduled 10-round bout at the Cowboys Dancehall in San Antonio on Monday night.
The bout headlined a Golden Boy Live! card that was televised live on Fox Sports 1.
Maldonado was coming off an impressive victory on Nov. 11, stopping Luis Ramos in the seventh round in a clash of lightweight prospects.
Nater accepted the fight against Maldonado on three day’s notice when original opponent Steve Forbes failed a pre-fight medical exam. Nater had won his two bouts in a row prior to his bout against Maldonado, but against very limited opposition.
After a mostly even opening round, Maldonado started beating Nater to the punch in the second round. He was able to do so by landing the sharper punches as Nater’s punches were slower and much wider.
Midway through the third round, Maldonado landed a left hand to the body, followed by two left hands to the head that dropped Nater to his knees. Nater was able to get up and survive the round.
Things did not get better for Nater in the fourth round as he was dropped again to his knees, courtesy of a left hand to the stomach. Nater was able to get up at the count of nine.
After the end of the fourth round, Nater’s corner told referee John Schorle to stop the fight as their fighter had taken a lot of punishment.
While Maldonado has gotten back onto a winning streak, a fight against Steve Forbes would better assess if he is to be taken seriously as a prospect. Another possible bout could be a rematch against Perez.
Maldonado, who hails from Albuquerque, NM, improved to 18-2, 15 knockouts. Nater, from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, dropped to 13-5, 10 KOs.
Spence stops Oluoch
Unbeaten welterweight prospect Errol Spence Jr. scored an impressive fourth round technical knockout over Peter Oluoch.
Spence demonstrated why he is considered to be the best Olympian who represented the United States at the 2012 Games in London. The southpaw Spence set up his combinations behind a consistent jab, most of them finishing with a left hand to the head.
Oluoch tried to counter Spence, but was not able to keep him away. Oluoch fell into a defensive shell, throwing one punch at a time and trying to cover up whenever Spence mounted an offense.
A minute into the fourth round, Spence hurt Oluoch with a counter left cross to the head. Oluoch staggered away from Spence, who followed up with a barrage of punches. Oluoch attempted to hold on, but would end up on the canvas, prompting referee Rafael Ramos to administer an eight-count.
After getting up, Oluoch was dropped again, courtesy of a short left uppercut to the head. Ramos saw enough and waved the fight over at 1:39.
Spence, from DeSoto, Texas, improved to 11-0, 9 KOs. Oluoch, from Nairobi, Kenya, dropped to 12-7-2, 6 KOs.
Gausha decisions Sosa
In the opening bout of the telecast, 2012 Olympian and middleweight prospect Terrell Gausha scored a one-sided eight round unanimous decision George Sosa.
Gausha dominated most of the action throughout the fight. He repeatedly landed multiple right hands to the head of Sosa, who would leave himself open after pawing at Gausha with a lazy jab. Gausha would also begin to find a home for a counter left hook to the head and body.
Towards the end of the fourth round, Gausha hurt Sosa with a counter right hand to the head. Sosa tried to hold on to Gausha while he attempted to gather himself from the punch.
As he was holding on, Sosa complained to referee Rafael Ramos about his glove almost coming off of his left hand. Ramos called time and allowed Sosa to go to his corner to have his glove re-taped.
Gausha, who trains at the Rock Gym in Carson, Calif., continued to rain down an abundant of punches onto Sosa in the second half of the fight. Gausha found a home to the body, landing repeatedly with left hooks and right hands.
By the eighth round, Sosa looked as though he was in survival mode. Midway through the round, Gausha landed at least 12 right hands to the head and body that had Sosa holding on. Fortunately for Sosa, he was able to make it to the final bell, but his face after the fight conceded defeat.
All three judges scored the bout 80-72, 80-72, and 79-73 in favor of Gausha.
Gausha, from Cleveland, Ohio, improved to 13-2, 6 KOs. Sosa, from Reading, Pa., falls to 13-6, 13 KOs.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of last year and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star, Knockout Nation, and Boxingscene.com. He could be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing