Yunier Dorticos more than lived up to his nickname, "The KO Doctor," on Saturday night.
Dorticos scored a massive second-round knockout of "The Russian Hammer" Dmitry Kudryashov to retain his cruiserweight world title for the first time in the quarterfinals of the World Boxing Super Series tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Given the punching power both fighters possess, it was no surprise that the bout ended in a knockout.
But that Dorticos got Kudryashov out so quickly might be. After a feeling-out first round, the two fighters began to open as soon as the second round began. Dorticos (22-0, 21 KOs) hurt Kudryashov (21-2, 21 KOs) with a right hand that sent him into the ropes early in the round. He landed repeatedly before Kudryashov responded with shots of his own. But later in the round, Dorticos landed a huge right hand to the side of Kudryashov's head, and he collapsed in a heap. He made every effort to get to his feet, but he could not, and referee Rafael Ramos counted him out at 2 minutes, 10 seconds.
"I knew that he was going to come at me, and I waited and delivered the shot," Dorticos said. "Once it landed, I knew it was over. It is an honor to be competing in the World Boxing Super Series. To be able to go after the Muhammad Ali Trophy [which will be awarded to the winner] is a privilege and a pleasure. I want to prove to the world that I am the best cruiserweight in the world right now."
Kudryashov, 31, of Russia, has been knocked out in the second round of both of his losses.
"I'm very upset right now," he said. "I was very well prepared. We're at a heavy weight, and one punch can change everything. He hit me with a good shot, and I have no excuses. I thought that I would be able to get up at the eight count, but the ref decided to stop the fight. The ref knows when to stop the fight, so I agreed with it. All respect to Dorticos, but I was expecting a victory, and I was expecting to stop him. I have to give him all the credit tonight."
Dorticos moves on to the semifinals of the eight-man, single-elimination tournament that also features three of the other cruiserweight world titleholders. In the semifinals, due to take place in early 2018, Dorticos will meet the winner of the fight between titleholder Murat Gassiev (24-0, 17 KOs), of Russia, and former titleholder and mandatory challenger Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (53-3-1, 37 KOs), of Poland.
They meet Oct. 21 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
"I know that I want to fight Murat Gassiev," Dorticos, 31, a Cuban defector fighting out of Miami, said. "I know he's watching me, and I'll be watching him. If he can take care of business, I would love to fight him. I'm ready to make that fight happen."
Oleksandr Usyk (13-0, 11 KOs), of Ukraine, scored a 10th-round knockout of former world titlist Marco Huck in a quarterfinal match on Sept. 9. Usyk will face the winner of the fight between world titleholder Mairis Briedis (22-0, 18 KOs), of Latvia, and Ireland-based Cuban defector Mike Perez (22-2-1, 14 KOs) in the semifinals. Briedis and Perez meet Sept. 30 at Riga Arena in Riga, Latvia.
Also on the card, cruiserweight Keith Tapia (18-1, 11 KOs), 27, of Bronx, New York, cruised to a one-sided decision against former world title challenger Lateef Kayode (21-2, 16 KOs), 34, a Nigeria native fighting out of Los Angeles. The scores were 100-89, 100-89 and 99-90.
"I usually start warming up in the fourth or fifth round, but I started much faster tonight," Tapia said. "I knew I had the advantage in speed, and I took advantage of it. I haven't been in the ring for a year, but my team got me ready and in great shape for this fight. My timing was the key to the fight. My trainer told me Kayode would drop his left hand and I'd be able to land my right hand, and that's what I did."
Tapia knocked Kayode down with a flush right hand on the chin as the bell ended the sixth round. "I tried to stay on my game plan," Kayode said. "He was very fast, but he did not hurt me. I thought I deflected a lot of his shots. When I tried to attack him, he started moving. I had to adjust my game plan. I didn't see the punch that knocked me down. I heard the bell, and then the punch was there. I think he started the punch before the bell rang."
In another undercard fight, former four-division world titleholder Nonito Donaire, out of action since losing his junior featherweight world title by controversial decision to Jessie Magdaleno nearly a year ago, moved back up to featherweight and routed Ruben Garcia Hernandez (22-3-1, 9 KOs), 24, of Mexico.
Donaire (38-4, 24 KOs), 34, the "Filipino Flash" who lives in Las Vegas, won by scores of 100-90, 99-91 and 97-93.
"I boxed very well, which is something I haven't done in a long time," Donaire said. "I moved my legs well and maintained it throughout the whole fight. I've always been an aggressive boxer, but this time I used my jab and combinations. I had the urge to just brawl, and I felt like I hurt him. But ultimately, I did a great job showing versatility in my game."
Hernandez gave it up to Donaire for his performance.
"Nonito was very smooth and moved around well," Hernandez said. "I couldn't get to him because of that. He adjusted to everything I did. It was a fair decision at the end of the night. I thought he was going to come to brawl, but he changed the strategy on me. I thought I fought hard, and I'm going to work hard to get back in the ring."