Big KOs for Jermell Charlo, Andrew Cancio, Elwin Soto

By David Greisman


Jermell Charlo Knocks Out Late Replacement, Awaits Tony Harrison Rematch


This wasn’t the fight Jermell Charlo wanted. It wasn’t the fight he was supposed to have. He was originally slated to face Tony Harrison in a rematch. He wanted to regain a world title the 154-pounder felt had unjustly been taken away from him.


That opportunity also got taken away when Harrison suffered an ankle injury weeks before the rematch. And so Charlo took out his frustrations on Jorge Cota instead, putting him down twice for an emphatic third-round knockout.


Cota was gutsy but ultimately outgunned. The fight started on the slower end. Cota was more active in the first two rounds, throwing wide combinations while Charlo analyzed the best way to approach an opponent who had both a southpaw stance and an awkward style.


Charlo began to figure Cota out in the second round. He solved him in the third. Charlo jabbed and moved to his left to give himself a better angle for the right hand. Cota threw a left cross and a right hook, but he kept his left hand low and his chin exposed. Charlo capitalized with a good right hand.


Cota went down. He beat the count by five, though his legs were unsteady. He used a glove to hold onto the top rope. The referee should’ve noticed this. Instead, he allowed the fight to continue. It didn’t continue much longer. Charlo came forward intent on finishing things off, sending a jab and a hard right hand between Cota’s gloves. Cota collapsed backward, his eyes open with nobody home.


Charlo is now 32-1 with 16 knockouts. He leaves this fight relatively unscathed, which should mean he won’t need to wait too long to get back in the ring with Harrison once he recovers. Cota is now 28-4 with 25 KOs. This result wasn’t a surprise. He loses when he steps up, including stoppage losses to Marco Antonio Rubio in 2012 and Erickson Lubin in 2017.

This is what was supposed to happen when a fighter like Charlo faces a fighter like Cota. Now Charlo wants what was supposed to happen to begin with — a shot at revenge.


No Fluke: Andrew Cancio Scores Another TKO Over Alberto Machado


The first time Andrew Cancio beat Alberto Machado was a shocking upset — an underdog rising off the canvas to stop a more accomplished fighter.

The second time proved that the first wasn’t a fluke — that Cancio is much better than he’d previously been given credit for, and that he clearly has Machado’s number.


Four months ago, Cancio scored a fourth-round technical knockout over Machado. This past Friday, he got the job done even sooner, stopping Machado in the third round.


Cancio started this fight returning to what had worked so well for him last time out, digging to Machado’s body. While Machado looked to be both significantly taller and heavier, he also had admitted to feeling the effects of draining his body down to the 130-pound division. Cancio looked to again take advantage of that. Machado sought to box, landing southpaw crosses and right hooks and then stepping out of range. Cancio was still able to work his way in, landing amid exchanges, keeping a fast pace and applying pressure.


A clash of heads opened up a bad cut over Cancio’s left eye. While Cancio said the blood wasn’t getting into his eye, it seemed to motivate him to fight with even more urgency. He connected with 33 power punches in the second round, according to CompuBox, digging both upstairs and downstairs and leaving Machado looking hurt and spent by the time the bell rang.


“I knew if I put pressure on him and started landing my combinations, he was going to start slowing down,” Cancio said in a post-fight interview.


Machado had about a minute to recover. Cancio wasn’t going to let him recover beyond that. Machado tried to move but couldn’t keep Cancio away. Cancio saw an opening and dug in a huge left hook to the liver. Machado dropped, listened to the count, and rose just as the referee was between nine and 10. The referee felt either that Machado hadn’t made it in time or didn’t have it in him to continue.

There shouldn’t be any controversy. Anything can happen in boxing — which we saw in the undercard fight before Cancio-Machado 2 featuring Angel Acosta and Elwin Soto (more on that below) — but this fight was most likely ending soon.


Cancio, who continues to work a full-time job while also training for fights, moves to 21-4-2 with 16 KOs. He’s won four straight since moving up the junior lightweight from the featherweight division following a TKO loss to Joseph Diaz Jr. in 2016.


Cancio left the sport after that defeat, returning a year and a half later. It’s a good thing he did. He’s been able to add a chapter to his career that never would’ve come otherwise.


And there’s more to come, for however long it lasts. Cancio is interested in a rematch with Diaz, who’s since moved up to the 130-pound division himself. He’s also interested in facing Rene Alvarado again; Cancio stopped Alvarado in an exciting fight back in 2015.


Machado, meanwhile, is now 21-2 with 17 KOs. He confirmed what he’d said after the last loss: that it’s time to move up to 135.


Elwin Soto Shocks Angel Acosta in Last Round, Captures World Title at 108


For the first few rounds, it looked as if Elwin Soto might pull off the upset and defeat Angel Acosta.


For nearly all of the rest of the fight, it looked as if Acosta had adjusted, pulled ahead and was on his way to retaining his junior flyweight world title.


And then the last round came. And there went Acosta’s reign.

Soto landed a huge counter left hook that left Acosta reeling. He followed up until the referee jumped in — a stoppage that was arguably premature, but was inarguably a dramatic turn in an all-action fight.


Every single one of Acosta’s victories has come by knockout or technical knockout. Acosta came out vying to keep that streak going, landing early with a pair of left hook counters, and soon a pair of right crosses. Soto wasn’t intimidated. He also came out throwing with power, loading up on his shots and scoring with a big overhand right.


Acosta took that one fine, but he got hurt by another Soto right hand early in the second round. Soto began to mix in body shots and head shots, digging to the body to try to weaken Acosta’s chin. Acosta dug in himself, fighting back with combinations, looking to make a stand.

But then Soto dropped Acosta in the third round with a left hook followed by a looping right hand. Acosta got up on weak legs, tried to hold, and soon stumbled back down on what was correctly ruled a push. Again, Acosta roared back and at one point had Soto going backward.


The fourth round was more of the same. Soto landed a big right hand about a minute in. Acosta recovered enough to participate in exciting exchanges for the remainder of the round.


Still, the fight seemed to be going in Soto’s direction. Acosta had to change the momentum — and that’s exactly what he did.


From the fifth round on, it was largely Acosta throwing and landing more. He went to the body to try to slow Soto down and take the steam off his punches. He sent out combinations and wasn’t getting caught as flush as before. Soto was still competing, but he wasn’t hurting Acosta anymore, and he wasn’t winning as many rounds. Rather, it was Acosta who hurt Soto with a right hand and a left hook in the 10th round.


But Soto seemed to find a reserve of energy as the 11th round came to an end. That was the right time. He couldn’t know it, but he was down on all three judges’ scorecards going into the last round.

Acosta was confident at the start of the 12th. He had Soto near the ropes and was letting out a flurry. But he missed with a right hand, then tried to follow with a left — and Soto responded with a home run of a left hook counter. Acosta staggered backward to the ropes. Soto closed in. Acosta wasn’t doing much to protect himself. He was leaning forward, his arms out wide in front of him. Soto wasn’t landing anything dangerous, but the referee saw a fighter he considered to be defenseless.


The ref jumped in. An argument can be made that it was too early. An argument can be made that it was an understandable call. But Acosta had recovered from being hurt earlier in the fight. He has a reasonable argument that he should’ve been allowed to continue.


Hopefully Acosta will get another chance. This was the kind of great fight that would’ve deserved a rematch no matter how it ended.


Soto moves to 15-1 with 11 KOs. He’s young, just 22 years old, and only turned pro in 2016, suffering a loss in his third bout and then continuing to learn along the way. He’d never faced anyone on Acosta’s level before. The biggest win on his record before this was a decision over faded former 105-pound titleholder Mario Rodriguez last year.

Soto stepped up, and Acosta suffered a setback. Acosta is now 20-2 with 20 KOs, though he can take solace in the knowledge that he’d rebounded from his previous loss. Acosta lost a decision to the very good Kosei Tanaka in 2017, but he won a vacant title in his next outing and had made three successful defenses of it.


He’d adjusted after the Tanaka loss. He adjusted well mid-fight against Soto. He’ll need to adjust once again if he wants the rematch to have a different ending.


David Greisman
About the Author:

David Greisman. David Greisman is an award-winning boxing writer based out of Washington, D.C., who has covered the sport since 2004. He is the senior staff writer and "Fighting Words" columnist for and a reporter for The Ring magazine. Greisman is the author of the book "Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing." Follow on Twitter @fightingwords2