ARLINGTON, Texas -- In an audition for a possible Dec. 10 fight against Canelo Alvarez, middleweight Willie Monroe Jr. defeated Gabriel Rosado, but he did little to enhance his chances of landing the coveted money fight in a lackluster decision win on the Alvarez-Liam Smith undercard Saturday night at AT&T Stadium.
Rosado and Monroe, who were both knocked out by Gennady Golovkin in world title fights, were both under consideration to challenge British world titleholder Billy Joe Saunders in the co-feature, but when he rejected fighting both of them, as well as Curtis Stevens, Golden Boy Promotions matched Rosado and Monroe.
The judges scored it 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112 in a fight that featured little clean punching and elicited booing from the crowd throughout.
"I just want to thank God for this 21st victory. Hopefully, I performed and they want to bring me back," Monroe said.
Monroe's movement and quick jab seemed to throw the hard-charging Rosado off, keeping him from landing too many clean shots. Neither man landed many clean punches in a boring cat-and-mouse fight that saw an aggressive, stalking Rosado (23-10, 13 KOs), 30, of Philadelphia, going straight ahead, as usual, and Monroe (21-2, 6 KOs), a 29-year-old southpaw from Rochester, New York, boxing, moving and countering.
"I thought I was going to be strong tonight, but I felt tight," Rosado said. "It was a tough fight, I think I should have used my jab more. I mean, he was a decent fighter."
Rosado, in his third fight with trainer and former world titleholder Fernando Vargas, landed a left hook that dropped Monroe to his backside at the end of the ninth round, but referee Laurence Cole ruled that the blow apparently was after the bell and did not call a knockdown.
It was one exciting moment in a otherwise forgettable fight in which neither fighter turned in the kind of performance that would excite anyone about a fight with Alvarez.
Diaz stops bloody Cancio
Featherweight Joseph Diaz Jr. (22-0, 13 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian who could challenge for a world title in 2017, thoroughly dominated Andrew Cancio (17-4-2, 13 KOs) en route to a one-sided ninth-round knockout.
"This is a great victory. It will open up so many doors for me moving forward," Diaz said. "I felt very comfortable, I was the better puncher, I was faster and was able to cut off the ring more efficiently. I knew that Cancio was going to be a strong guy. I knew he was going to be tough and try to push me around, so I had to be the better fighter tonight. I was able to display my defense and my power."
Diaz, a 23-year-old southpaw from South El Monte, California, has already defeated former world-title challenger Jayson Velez, and looked sharp against Cancio, especially with his left hand. He tagged the slower Cancio, 27, of Blythe, California, with it repeatedly and opened a cut on the bridge of his nose in the third round.
In the fifth round, Diaz put together combinations that pushed Cancio back as the fight became more and more one-sided. By the eighth round, the cut was bad and dripping blood into Cancio's mouth before he would spit it to the canvas.
Diaz continued to take it to the bloody Cancio in the ninth round, and when his corner threw in the towel, referee Gregorio Alvarez stepped in at 2 minutes, 26 seconds.
"Cancio was tired, and he was badly hurt," trainer Daniel Garcia Jr. said. "He was not up for finishing the fight, and I we could not let it continue."
Said Cancio: "He was the better fighter, and he got me with multiple shots throughout the fight. The cut over my nose didn't bother me in the first couple of rounds, but when it didn't stop, it blurred my vision and started to distract me."
Mexican junior featherweight prospect Diego De La Hoya (16-0, 9 KOs), the first cousin of promoter and Hall of Famer Oscar De La Hoya, took a solid step up in the level of his opposition and soundly outboxed Luis Orlando Del Valle (22-3, 16 KOs) in a unanimous decision. The judges had it 100-90, 99-91 and 99-91.
De La Hoya, 22, landed many quick counter punches against the slower Del Valle and controlled the entire fight. In the sixth round, De La Hoya landed a left hand that sent an off-balance Del Valle reeling backward before unleashing a flurry.
"We knew this fight was going to be difficult. We knew we were going up against an opponent who had a flood of experience," De La Hoya said. "There were moments where the fight was complicated, but I was able to hurt him consistently with shots to the head. My most effective shot was the uppercut, and once I found that out, I consistently used it. I'm glad for the victory. To bring this fight for all the Mexican fans tonight in front of such a venue has been a dream come true for me."
Del Valle, 29, of Puerto Rico, landed his share of hard shots, including some solid right hands, but De La Hoya did not seem too bothered by any of them. By the end of the fight, the right side of Del Valle's face was swollen as his four-fight winning streak ended.
"I know how I performed in the ring. I trained hard, brought my skills to the ring and left it all there," Del Valle said. "He was the better fighter, and that's that. There are no excuses on my part. I wish Diego the best."
Welterweight contender Sadam Ali (23-1, 13 KOs), 27, of Brooklyn, New York, rolled to a near-shutout decision against Saul Corral (22-8, 13 KOs), 29, of Mexico, in his first fight since suffering his first loss. Ali won 99-90, 99-90 and 99-91 as he rebounded from a ninth-round knockout to Jessie Vargas in a fight for a vacant welterweight world title on March 5.
"The plan was to get the knockout, but that didn't happen with this victory," Ali said. "My opponent definitely had a Mexican style to him, and I was not expecting the reach he had with his arms. I knew I hurt him in the exchange of blows in the fourth round and other times throughout the fight. This is still the win I needed and worked hard for, and I know the next fight I am in will demonstrate my will power."
Ali, a 2008 U.S. Olympian, dominated from the opening bell. But he had his biggest moments in the fourth round when he rocked Corral with a left hand about a minute into the round and continued to land clean punches before finally knocking him down with a right hand on the chin. Corral beat the count but took a beating for the rest of the round.
Corral came into the fight riding a three-fight winning streak since suffering a third-round knockout loss to former junior welterweight titleholder Mike Alvarado on March 19.
Junior welterweight Vergil Ortiz Jr. (2-0, 2 KOs), an 18-year-old prospect from Dallas, scored a devastating first-round knockout of Ernesto Hernandez (1-4, 1 KO), 28, of El Paso, Texas. Ortiz knocked him out cold with a single right hand to the chin 40 seconds into the fight.
Lightweight prospect Hector Tanajara Jr. (6-0, 4 KOs), a 19-year-old from San Antonio, dominated Roy Garcia (3-20-1, 2 KOs), 31, of Alice, Texas, in a shutout decision. Tanajara won 40-36 on all three scorecards and picked apart the game Garcia. He showed patience, a strong jab and an assortment of punches.
Bantamweight prospect Joshua Franco (7-0, 4 KOs), 20, of San Antonio, scored all three of his knockdowns against Mexico's Brian Bazan (9-3, 6 KOs) on left uppercuts in an explosive fourth-round knockout victory. Franco connected with two clean uppercuts on Bazan's chin to drop him twice in the third round. He barely made it out of the round, but 19 seconds into the fourth round Franco landed another one and knocked him flat on his back.
"I feel amazing getting the knockout in front of all my fans," Franco said. "This was only a taste of the things to come. I think my performance showed that I can take on any opponent. I knew the first time he fell that it would only take a couple of shots until I could get the knockout."
Brooklyn, New York, junior welterweight prospect Zachary Ochoa (16-0, 7 KOs) cruised to a decision win against Mexico's Daniel Montoya (11-5, 8 KOs). Ochoa, 23, won 80-72 on one card and 79-73 on the other two. He easily outboxed Montoya, 26, and kept a stiff jab in his face throughout the bout.
"I knew I could stop him, but I hurt my knuckle in the second round blocking his right-hand hook and counter punching him with my left hook," Ochoa said. "He was a tough guy, resilient, but I was in control the whole time. I knew my body shots were hurting him, and I continued doing that to break him down. I knew going in it was going to be a tough fight, but we trained exactly for this, and we are ready to take on the next talented fighter."
Junior middleweight Alexis Salazar (13-3, 6 KOs), who is part of Alvarez's camp, won a six-round decision against Larry Smith (10-29-1, 6 KOs), of Dallas. Salazar, 21, of Mexico, won 60-54 on two scorecards and 58-56 on the third.
British cruiserweight Anthony Yarde (8-0, 7 KOs), 25, made his United States debut by knocking out Rayford Johnson (11-22, 5 KOs), of Longview, Texas, at 2 minutes, 10 seconds of the first round in their scheduled six-round fight. Yarde caught him with a left hook along the ropes, and he was out on his feet.
"Obviously, I'm happy to get the win, but I was trying to carry him a bit," Yarde said. "I wanted more time in the ring. I wanted to get some rounds in and take in more of this experience in AT&T Stadium. That's why I didn't follow up after I hit him with my left hook. But overall I got the win, so I'm content with that."