Monroe Jr., Diaz, De La Hoya Win on Canelo-Smith Undercard

Photos: Will Hart

By Kieran Mulvaney

ARLINGTON, Texas - For all the sound and fury that had accompanied its build-up, Saturday’s co-main event between middleweights Willie Monroe Jr. and Gabriel Rosado turned out to be something of a damp squib. For reasons not entirely clear to anyone other than himself, Rosado had taken personal exception to Monroe, to the extent that he was unable to restrain himself from shoving his rival at Friday’s weigh-in. But when it came time to put his gloved fists where his mouth was, he was unable to do so, and Rosado (23-10, 13 KOs) dropped a unanimous decision win after huffing and puffing his way ineffectually through 12 rounds.

The big difference in the contest was that one man fought – or, more accurately, boxed – the way he chose to do, while the other was unable to fight the way he wanted to. Monroe, who styles himself “The Mongoose,” crouched and watched and waited for Rosado to make his move, before popping him with southpaw jabs and straight lefts. After a relatively close and uneventful opening few rounds, the bout devolved into nine fairly clear-cut and uneventful rounds, as Rosado displayed endless herky-jerky action to little effect while Monroe (21-2, 6 KOs) took the concept of economy of motion to an extreme. The crowd hated it, and didn’t seem enthralled with the scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 118-110 in Monroe’s favor. But while it was far from entertaining, Monroe’s approach was certainly effective and worthy of the win. Whether it will secure him the bout with Canelo Alvarez that was theoretically on the cards is, however, another matter.

Undefeated featherweight Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. didn’t exactly set the crowd alight at AT&T Stadium – most of them were far more interested in continuing a sustained version of the wave while he was in the ring – and chances are he didn’t make too much of an impression on the audience watching at home, either. But he certainly made an impression on the face of Andrew Cancio, which was bloodied and battered throughout the match until referee Gregorio Alvarez stepped in to call a halt to the contest at 2:27 of the ninth of 10 scheduled rounds. Cancio (17-4-2, 13 KOs) barreled forward for much of the first half of the bout; however, Diaz, a 2012 Olympian, was always in control, even when his back was to the ropes and Cancio was attempting to bludgeon him up close. Even relatively early in his career, Diaz (22-0, 12 KOs) is a masterful boxer, if not an especially explosive one, and he was able to slip and parry much of Cancio’s incoming while countering with sharp shots of his own. As the bout wore on, Cancio wore down, and Diaz stepped forward and began unleashing more punches in succession. Piece by piece, Diaz was taking Cancio apart with surgical precision, and Cancio had no complaints with the stoppage.

Junior featherweight prospect Diego De La Hoya – cousin of Hall-of-Fame boxer Oscar De La Hoya – took a step up in class against Puerto Rico’s Luis Orlando del Valle and passed his test with flying colors, scoring a wide unanimous decision victory to remain undefeated. De La Hoya (16-0, 9 KOs) was consistently quicker with his punches, particularly an effective jab and left hook, and knocked del Valle back into the ropes at the end of the fifth and the beginning of the sixth with short, sharp counters. He eased up over the final few rounds, contenting himself with circling and potshotting as del Valle (22-3, 16 KOs) sought to up the tempo, before finishing with a furious closing flurry at the end of the 10th. The scores of 100-90 and 99-91 (twice) accurately reflected an impressively dominant performance for De La Hoya.