Danny O’Connor expected to gain revenge over Gabriel Bracero on Saturday, and for a number of good reasons.
It was O’Connor who entered their 147-pound rematch with three straight victories, all via KO, and who, at age 30, was younger by four years.
It was O’Connor who had fought regularly at a higher weight—ranging from 142 and 152 pounds—while Bracero, who weighed in Friday at a career-high 146.8 pounds, hadn’t fought above 142 pounds since 2009.
And it was Bracero who had been floored twice in his previous fight in April, a one-sided 10-round, unanimous-decision loss to unbeaten former Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz.
Yet all it took was 41 seconds for Bracero to show his southpaw rival that none of the above mattered, doing so with frightening efficiency in highlight-reel Knockout of the Year candidate.
Gabriel Bracero’s blistering right cross over his opponent’s lazy left short-circuited Danny O’Connor’s senses, knocking him flat on his back and out cold less than a minute into the contest. The crushing blow stunned the partisan fans at Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, Massachusetts, which is less than a half hour from O’Connor’s native Framingham, Massachusetts.
O’Connor appeared to lay unconscious for more than a minute, but was coherent leaving the ring and taken to nearby Lowell General Hospital for examination. He was unavailable for comment.
“I worked on that punch in the gym,” said Bracero, who improved to 24-2 with five knockouts. “He's a southpaw, so I had to keep my left leg outside of his right leg. It was stepping over to the left and swinging with all my might. It's an amazing feeling.
“I have dreamed about this day for a long time. I made some mistakes in my prior fights, but I went back to the drawing board, went to camp, fixed my mistakes and came in here super focused today.”
When Bracero landed his big shot, referee Arthur Mercante Jr. quickly rushed in, stood over O’Connor, whose left leg was raised and twitching, and waved an end to the fight.
After O’Connor (26-3, 10 KOs) finally regained consciousness and sat up, a concerned Bracero walked over, put his arm around his fallen opponent and whispered in his ear.
“My message to Danny was, after my last fight—after my last loss—I was down. I went through a depression,” said Bracero, who handed O’Connor his first pro loss when they squared off at 140 pounds in April 2011. “I told him not to let that happen to him. To pick himself back up, to be proud of himself, to go home to his beautiful wife and kids and enjoy life.
“I didn't want the same thing to happen to him, that happened to me. God bless Danny O'Connor. He's a champion. Just because he lost here today, I still tip my hat off to him. It takes a real champion to come in here and do what he does. I wish him the best.”
The sudden ending was only the second first-round victory by Bracero, the first coming against Guillermo Valdes in June 2011. It was also his first stoppage of any kind since a fourth-round technical knockout over Johnnie Edwards in December 2012.
For complete coverage of O'Connor vs Bracero, be sure to visit our fight page.
Jonathan Guzman remains unbeaten with his 20th consecutive stoppage
Jonathan Guzman not only improved to 20-0 with 20 knockouts with a ninth-round stoppage of Danny Aquino on Saturday night, but the hammer-fisted fighter demonstrated veteran poise and the ability to be a boxer-puncher.
He also demonstrated incredible pain tolerance, fighting with two broken hands after the second round, according to his promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz.
Guzman floored Aquino twice in the second round and counter-punched beautifully into the ninth, finally finishing his opponent with a head-swiveling right hand followed by a left uppercut for a technical knockout in a 122-pound clash at Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, Massachusetts.
“Thank God that I was able to make it through a fight with two broken hands, and that I was able to show that I have big balls,” said Jonathan Guzman, whom Lewkowicz said was taken to a nearby hospital after the fight. “I’m going to get healthy and then, when I’m ready to return, I want to fight [champion] Guillermo Rigondeaux for the world title—that is, if he thinks that he can take my power.”
After never having to fight past the fifth round in any of his previous contests, Guzman (20-0, 20 KOs) showed solid stamina—even through it appeared the 26-year-old from the Dominican Republic would have another quick night after registering second-round knockdowns with his left hook and right hand, respectively.
Following the initial knockdown at the 2:07 mark, Danny Aquino (17-3, 10 KOs) rose on stable legs before referee Jackie Morrell reached the count of eight. Aquino went down yet again with 13 seconds remaining in the round from a left-hook, right-hand combination, yet he made it to his feet right before the bell sounded.
Likely compensating for his broken hands, Guzman effectively went from puncher to boxer from the third round on. He set traps off counters, occasionally dangled his hands by his side starting in the sixth and split Aquino’s guard—and his wild punches—with crisp counters of his own.
The end officially came at 1:19 of the ninth, courtesy of a powerful straight right hand that was followed by two misses and a crunching left uppercut just as Aquino was on the way down. It was the first time the 25-year-old from Mexico had been stopped.
“Both of my hands were hurting and in a lot of pain, so in the second and third rounds, I had to take some time and be patient,” Guzman said. “I just moved around and punched when I had to.
“When I saw the opportunity, I went all the way and knocked him out. If not for the hand injuries, I would have ended it earlier. But I’m glad that I was able to show that I can go rounds.”
For complete coverage of Guzman vs Aquino, be sure to visit our fight page.