Top Rank professional boxing on ESPN+ returned to the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University in North Philadelphia on Saturday night. The main event of this action-packed card pitted super featherweights Jason Sosa (23-3-4, 16 KOs) and Lydell Rhodes (27-4-1, 13 KOs) against one another in a ten round contest. Sosa, a former WBA Super Featherweight World Champion, made a big step on the trail to reclaim a world title by stopping tough veteran Rhodes at the 1:08 mark of the seventh round.
The two gladiators fought a close fight through the opening two frames. In the third round, Sosa opened up on Rhodes with a barrage of effective punches to the head and body. This offensive onslaught was highlighted by hard upper cuts that made Rhodes cringe under the pressure. Sosa again went on the attack in the fourth round when he connected with a left hand to the face of Rhodes. Rhodes rallied at the end of the round, landing a multi-punch combo that let Sosa know he was still in the fight.
In the fifth round, Sosa sent Rhodes crashing to the canvas with a left hook to the head. Rhodes managed to pull himself up from the mat, and fight on until the final 30 seconds of the round when Rhodes was punished with a series of Sosa punches to the head that again sent him down to the canvas. An accidental headbutt in the sixth round opened up a cut near Sosa's left eye. Fortunately, the location of this wound had little impact on the Camden native's fight plan and momentum going forward.
The third and final knockdown came in the seventh round when a well-placed Sosa right hand to Rhodes' head sent him crashing to the canvas. Rhodes recovered from the knockdown, but his corner had seen enough of the beat down, and threw in the towel. Referee Benjy Esteves honored the request by waiving off the fight.
Gonzales Spoils Olympian's Debut
Denver's Adan Gonzales (5-2-2, 2 KOs) spoiled the long anticipated professional debut of Cuban Olympian Robeisy Ramirez (0-1) in a four round featherweight bout. Gonzales, fighting like a man looking for the upset, introduced Ramirez to a pro boxing canvas in the first round with a hard right hand to the head. Ramirez appeared to struggle with Gonzales in the second round, as he continued to apply pressure to the highly successful former amateur fighter. Ramirez, hoping to salvage his night, unloaded on Gonzales at the end of the third round, having to be pulled off of Gonzales after the bell rang. Ramirez fought hard in the fourth and final round, but it was not enough to salvage a win or draw. The judges scored the bout 39-36 for Gonzales, 38-37 for Ramirez, and 40-35 for the winner by split decision, Adan Gonzales.
Berlanga Extends Kayo Streak to 12
"Knockout Artist" Edgar Berlanga (12-0, 12 KOs) won his twelfth straight fight by way of knockout over Gregory Trenel (11-5-2, 3 KOs) in the first round of a middleweight contest scheduled for eight. Berlanga answered the bell by landing crushing shots on his French opponent. Trenel hit the canvas after Berlanga, a native of New York, connected with a left hook to the head. Trenel hesitantly pulled himself up from the canvas only to be beaten into submission seconds later. Berlanga landed numerous left hands, at will, on the defenseless Trenel. Referee Benjy Esteves saw enough of the massacre at the 2:24 mark of the opening frame.
Philadelphia's Kroll Wins by UD
Undefeated welterweights Paul Kroll (5-0, 4 KOs) and Shinard Bunch (2-1, 2 KOs) battled through a six round bout. The two men put on a display of speed throughout the opening frame of the contest in front of a crowd that roared with approval. As the first round ended, the referee had to pull Kroll away from the dogfight that was highlighted by great exchanges of multi-punch combos. In the second round, the two men slowed down the pace of the bout.
Bunch unloaded a three punch combo on Kroll in the third. The fourth round kicked off with a exchange of big shots near the center of the ring. Later in this round, Kroll put the pedal to the metal as he aggressively nailed Bunch with a series of multi-punch combos to the head and body, shots that made Bunch slump into the ropes. At this point of the fight, the advantage was seized by Kroll who landed big shots that were responded to by Bunch clinches and wrap-ups. This was especially the case in the fifth round when Kroll connected with a right hook to Bunch's head. Seconds later, Kroll tee'd off on Bunch with a series of shots, but Bunch managed to dance out of the trap on shaky legs.
In the sixth round, Kroll went into knockout mode chasing Bunch around the ring and swinging wildly at his opponent, missing more than connecting. To the crowd's dismay, Bunch, clearly beat up from rounds of taking damage, managed to stay on his feet. Referee Gary Rosato had to pull Kroll off of Bunch as the bell marking the end of the round rang. The judges scored the bout 58-56 twice and 59-55 for Kroll.
Conto Sweeps "Game" Del Rio
Philadelphia's Sonny Conto (4-0, 3 KOs) defeated a tough opponent in Mexico's Guillermo Del Rio (2-3-1, 2 KOs) to the hometown crowd's delight on Saturday night. Conto went on the attack early in the first of this four rounder as he punished Del Rio with straight left and right hands to the head and body. Del Rio was rocked with a big overhand right to the head in the final 30 seconds of the first round, but showed his grit by staying on his feet and surviving the opening the frame. Conto had to deal with Del Rio's clinching and wrapping throughout the second round. As the round neared its end, this strategy turned into wild swinging at Conto that failed to hit its mark. A Conto left hook made Del Rio drop into the ropes, but the Mexican heavyweight again made it to the end of the round.
Sonny landed shots at will on Del Rio in the third which appeared to have a damaging effect on him. Again, to the frustration of Conto and the audience, Del Rio's body did not hit the canvas. The crowd roared "Sonny! Sonny!" in the final round as the Philly heavyweight clubbed Del Rio. Del Rio deaf to the chants of the Liacouras Center, valiantly fought on. As the round neared its end, Conto finally sent Del Rio crashing to the canvas with a left hand to the head. Del Rio, on wobbly legs, pulled himself up for the unanimous decision defeat. All three judges scored the bout 40-35 for the heavyweight prospect Conto.
Smith Dominates Abdullah in Six
Philly's Donald Smith (10-0, 6 KOs) won his tenth fight as a professional over Colorado's Raheem Abdullah (3-3). Smith controlled the momentum of the featherweight contest throughout the bout, and answered all of Abdullah's attacks with effective multi-punch combos of his own. Smith closed out his dominant performance by hammering Abdullah with right hands to the body as the fight came to a conclusion. The judges scored the fight 59-53 twice and 60-52 for Smith.
Adorno Wins by Kayo
Jeremy Adorno (2-0, 1 KO) defeated Fernando Robles (2-2) by knockout victory in a super bantamweight bout that was scheduled for four rounds. The knockout shot came at the 2:01 mark of the third round when Adorno dropped Robles with a right hook to the body.
Support The Weigh-In: Your Home for Combat Sports by Shopping World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Products!