LAS VEGAS -- Luis Ortiz destroyed Lateef Kayode in a first-round knockout victory to claim a vacant interim heavyweight belt Thursday night at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
Ortiz, a 6-foot-4, 234-pound southpaw, dropped Kayode moments into the fight with a left hand before ending the fight in destructive fashion.
Ortiz trapped Kayode in a corner and teed off on him with a two-handed assault of about 15 unanswered punches -- although it was the first left hand that badly hurt Kayode -- before referee Robert Byrd stepped in and waved it off at 2 minutes, 55 seconds.
Ortiz (22-0, 19 KOs), 35, a Cuban defector living in Miami, celebrated, and Kayode (20-1, 16 KOs), 31, a native of Nigeria living in Los Angeles, complained about a quick stoppage. However, he was not throwing punches back, and Byrd really had no choice but to stop the fight.
"I want to be world champion," Ortiz said through a translator. "I just followed my corner's instructions to pressure him and to be victorious. They also told me to pay attention and wait for the moments, and that the knockout would come."
Kayode was upset by the stoppage.
"The first knockdown was a slip," he said. "[The fight-ending sequence], I was blocking a punch and just coming off the ropes with a right hand, and it was an unfair stoppage. You don't stop a title fight until someone goes down."
Although Ortiz laid claim to a version of a heavyweight title, he is merely one of three titleholders recognized by the WBA, which has created multiple world titles in the same division in order to generate more sanctioning fees.
Wladimir Klitschko holds the main title and is the recognized heavyweight world champion, while Ruslan Chagaev, whom Klitschko owns a knockout win against, recently claimed the organization's vacant so-called "regular" title. Ortiz, who still has never faced a top contender, picked up the interim version, which is third on the totem pole.
Ortiz's biggest win before beating Kayode was a fourth-round knockout in April of long-faded former contender Monte Barrett, who was fighting for the first time in two years.
Kayode also had never beaten anyone of remote consequence to warrant a title shot. After fighting to a draw with Antonio Tarver in a June 2012 cruiserweight bout -- a fight later changed to a no-decision when Tarver tested positive for a steroid following the fight -- Kayode moved up to heavyweight and won two fights by knockout against woeful opposition. One opponent was 21-33-1, and the other was 9-7-1.
Cuellar crushes Lopez
Jesus Cuellar likely ended the career of former two-division titlist Juan Manuel Lopez, crushing him in a second-round knockout victory and retaining his interim featherweight belt.
Cuellar (25-1, 19 KOs), 27, of Argentina, who was making his second defense, blew through Lopez, 31, of Puerto Rico, with ease.
He tagged him almost at will in the first round and raised swelling around his right eye. Lopez, who has been knocked out in all of his defeats, had nothing, and Cuellar attacked him at will in the second round as well, finally unloading a right-left-right combination that sent Lopez crashing to the canvas. Referee Tony Weeks immediately waved off the fight at 1 minute, 36 seconds, and the Argentine fans in the crowd began to chant and sing.
Lopez has been knocked out in three of his past four fights, including in the third round by junior lightweight Francisco Vargas in his previous fight July, after which many called on Lopez to retire. But that fight was at junior lightweight, so Lopez, a former featherweight and junior featherweight titlist, returned to featherweight and was approved to challenge Cuellar for the interim belt.
After Lopez (34-5, 31 KOs) regained his senses, he said, "This is over. I'm going to go back to Puerto Rico and talk to my family, but it seems like this is it. [Cuellar] is a good champion, powerful and young. I used to be the same."
Cuellar was ecstatic with the victory and said he was looking forward to significant fights.
"I trained hard and I prepared well," he said. "I want to thank Juanma for fighting me. I appreciate the opportunity. I trained for 12 rounds but I dominated him. I'm ready to fight anyone. I want to fight [former three-division titleholder] Abner Mares or any champion."
• Houston middleweight Jermall Charlo (19-0, 15 KOs) tore through overmatched Norberto Gonzalez (20-5, 13 KOs) of Mexico for a one-sided seventh-round knockout.
Charlo was battering him all over the ring when Gonzalez's corner threw in the towel and referee Kenny Bayless stopped it at 1 minute, 23 seconds.
Charlo landed a bad low blow with a left hand in the fourth round, and Bayless took a point away for the foul. In the fifth round, Charlo dropped Gonzalez with a straight right hand, and although he beat the count, Charlo teed off on him for the last 20 seconds, nearly stopping him.
• Philadelphia junior middleweight prospect Julian Williams (17-0-1, 10 KOs) pounded his way to a shutout eight-round decision against Eliezer Gonzalez (14-1, 9 KOs) of Puerto Rico. Williams, who was sharp with his right hand, won 80-72 on all three scorecards, despite suffering some swelling around his right eye.
• Welterweight Errol Spence (14-0, 11 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian from DeSoto, Texas, and one of the best prospects in boxing, made quick work of Mexico's Noe Bolanos (26-11-1, 16 KOs), stopping him at the end of the second of a one-sided fight. Bolanos, who lost his sixth fight in a row, quit on his stool, claiming a left hand injury.
"I did what I needed to do and I looked and felt good doing it," Spence said. "I didn't plan on stopping him but I'm glad I did."
• Riverside, California, welterweight Josesito Lopez (33-6, 19 KOs) cruised to a shutout eight-round decision against Mexico's Rafael Cobos (15-5-5, 3 KOs) in a fight that looked like a sparring session. Lopez methodically beat Cobos to the punch round after round and won 80-72 on all three scorecards as he won his third fight in a row since suffering back-to-back knockout losses to Canelo Alvarez (at junior middleweight) and Marcos Maidana.
"I got some rounds but I hurt my left hand," Lopez said. "I wasn't happy with my performance overall but he had an awkward style, which made it difficult for me."
•Lightweight Jamel Herring (9-0, 6 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian from Rockville, New York, rocked Mexico's Luis Pelayo (11-5-1, 6 KOs) with a straight left hand in the second round, and referee Bayless stepped in at 1 minute, 4 seconds.