The former world super welterweight champion returns in explosive fashion, flattening Cota in three with an eye on a rematch versus current WBC 154-pound titlist Tony Harrison.
Jermell Charlo did what you're supposed to do when faced with adversity – he took care of business.
Bouncing back from the first defeat of his career, Charlo (32-1, 16 KOs) impressively stopped late substitute Jorge Cota in the main event of PBC on FOX from Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.
Charlo told Cota (28-4, 25 KOs) in their PBC Face to Face episode that he was going to make a highlight out of Cota. Those words proved prophetic as he laid the game Mexican out with a beauty of a one-two combination.
Charlo took his time, taking in all the unorthodox angles Cota presented in the first two rounds. Cota did some solid work in the first, landing a lead left to the body and getting braver when Charlo didn't make him pay with counters.
Charlo fired off one punch at a time in the early going and showed patience in figuring out his opponent. After processing that information, he ended matters swiftly in the third. Thirty seconds into the frame, he stepped in with a jab followed by a crunching right. Cota collapsed to the canvas, rising to his feet on unsteady legs and using the top rope to keep his balance.
When asked by referee Jay Nady if he could continue, Cota nodded in the affirmative—then proceeded to walk into a fight-ending right hand, laying him out in front of Charlo’s family ringside. This time, Nady didn’t bother to count. The time of the stoppage was 2:14.
Charlo was initially scheduled to rematch Tony Harrison on this night, before the WBC world super welterweight champion pulled out due to an ankle injury. Harrison was in the building and Charlo called him out after the win.
"I want to give a thank you and a congratulations to Jorge even though he took the defeat,” Charlo said afterward. “He stepped into the ring. The guy that proclaims the title backed out of the fight and [Cota] was the one who stepped into the ring as fast as he did."
Charlo believes he deserved the decision against Harrison last December, despite all three judges ruling in the new champion’s favor. Harrison revealed that he expects to be back in the gym within a month, with an eye on the rematch toward the end of the year.
Charlo, however, says the result will be different next time.
"I'm a much better fighter," Charlo said of the man who got the controversial unanimous decision against him in their first encounter. "He's lucky he didn't accept a fight with me this time."
This was Charlo’s first knockout in three fights; he had reeled off four in a row after bringing Derrick James in as his head trainer in late 2015. The KO here will likely light up social media and be considered for Knockout of the Year.
Charlo wants to get his WBC belt back and then target the remaining IBF and WBA titles, held by Julian Williams, who scored an upset in May of unbeaten Jarrett Hurd. You can mix and match those fighters in any variety of ways and it's a guaranteed can't miss fight.
Guillermo Rigondeaux KO’s Jorge Ceja in thrilling back and forth
Rigondeaux (19-1, 13 KOs), known usually for his defensive style, stood in the phone booth from the opening bell, which played into Ceja's hands. Ceja (32-4, 28 KOs) outpunched Rigondeaux, landing an astounding 225 punches before Rigondeaux landed a one-hitter quitter of a left hand in the closing seconds of the eighth. Ceja rose to his feet but referee Russell Mora didn't like what he saw from the fighter and stopped the fight.
Rigondeaux fought well in the first round but Ceja took over the next couple of stanzas. You could barely fit a piece of paper between the two to separate them as Ceja dug deep shots to the body and even rocked Rigondeaux at the end of the sixth. Ceja's nose was bleeding midway through the fight -- it was a broken nose that caused his last fight to end in a corner retirement.
Rigondeaux, the Cuban wizard, had never been hit by more than 82 punches in any previous fight before Sunday night. His usual style is a play-it-safe kind, where he probes with a jab from the outside and counters. He ditched that completely and was likely trailing on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage. The 38-year-old lineal super bantamweight champion may be losing his legs a bit, and that translated into a very exciting back-and-forth brawl. The fight was a WBC title eliminator, which puts him in line to face unbeaten Mexican Rey Vargas.
Joey Spencer survives growing pains, decisions Akeem Black
Spencer had his way with Black through the first three rounds, but Black began to come on and in the fourth and bludgeon Spencer with some thudding shots of his own. Spencer seemed to gas out that round and allowed Black back into the fight. The two traded heavy barrages for most of an exciting sixth round. Though he got the win, perhaps Spencer's team will pump the brakes a bit on the idea of the 19-year-old prospect fighting for a world title when he's 21. There's certainly some work to be done.
Even in the middle of a fight, Chris "PrimeTime" Colbert makes sure you put respect on his name . pic.twitter.com/6ffaq1zaJQ— FOX Sports: PBC (@PBConFOX) June 24, 2019
Chris Colbert shines again, shuts out Alberto Mercado
Colbert was simply too skilled, outboxing Mercado at a distance, and landing the heavier punches in close quarters. Colbert hurt Mercado in the sixth and seventh but never pressed for the KO. All three cards read 80-72. Mercado slips to 16-3-1 (3 KOs).
For a closer look at Charlo vs Cota, check out our fight night page.