OKLAHOMA CITY -- The eventual big prize is a fight with welterweight world titleholder Terence Crawford, but first the "Mean Machine" Egidijus Kavaliauskas had to get through Roberto Arriaza, and he did just that.
Kavaliauskas, with blood pouring down the right side of his face and Crawford watching intently from ringside, knocked Arriaza out in the third round in the co-feature of the Maurice Hooker-Alex Saucedo junior welterweight world title fight on Friday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
"We are going to look very closely at having Kavaliauskas challenge Terence Crawford for the welterweight championship of the world," Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said.
Pound-for-pound star Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) retained his title for the first time on Oct. 13 when he knocked out Jose Benavidez Jr. in the 12th round, setting him up for a probable ring return in March. Kavaliauskas had been a top candidate to challenge Crawford on Oct. 13, but the fight instead went to Benavidez.
A hard accidental head-butt in the second round opened a terrible cut over Kavaliauskas' right eye and blood poured down the side of his face. He seemed unnerved by the blood and began to back up, but he came back strong in the third round.
With the aggressive Arriaza going after him, Kavaliauskas (21-0, 17 KOs), 30, a two-time Lithuanian Olympian fighting out of Oxnard, California, landed a hard right hand that sent Arriaza into the ropes. Kavaliauskas bludgeoned him with two more right hands and he went down to a knee.
Kavaliauskas landed a right hand for good measure while Arriaza (17-1, 13 KOs), 28, of Nicaragua, was down, but referee Gerald Ritter did not see the foul and counted Arriaza out at 3 minutes.
"I want to fight the best in the welterweight division, and the best guy right now is Terence Crawford," Kavaliauskas said. "I am ready for that fight next."
Arriaza was upset by the foul that Ritter did not call.
"I know I had him in trouble," Arriaza said. "I was the one who was dominating and was in control of the fight. I'm sure that I was going to finish him within six rounds, but he surprised me with a punch behind the ear and then he connected while I was on the canvas. The referee did not even tell him anything. I do not understand. I tried to get up, but I could not. I want a rematch. I know I can beat him."
Seldin destroys Lara
Junior welterweight Cletus "The Hebrew Hammer" Seldin (22-1, 18 KOs), 32, of Shirley, New York, needed just 26 seconds to blow away the overmatched Nelson Lara (17-11-4, 9 KOs), 34, of Nicaragua.
Seldin, out of action since suffering his first loss by lopsided 10-round decision to Yves Ulysse Jr. in December and battling injuries, came out extremely fast. He applied massive pressure to Lara and landed several hard punches before landing a picture-perfect left hook to the body that dropped Lara for referee Gary Ritter's full count.
"It was good to be back in the ring, injury-free this time," Seldin said. "I was brought to Oklahoma City for one reason and that is to fight the winner of the main event [for a world title] and that's what I want next."
Junior featherweight Jonathan Guzman (23-1, 22 KOs), 29, of the Dominican Republic, won a unanimous decision over Roberto Castaneda (23-11-1, 16 KOs), 27, of Mexico. He won 99-91 on all three scorecards, but it was a very tough fight and he survived a knockdown and some difficult moments.
Guzman, who recently signed with Top Rank and had not fought since losing his 122-pound world title by unanimous decision to Yukinori Oguni in Japan in December 2016, was rusty and wild, but he was cat-quick and beat Castaneda to the punch repeatedly for most of the fight although he had trouble in the late going.
In the sixth round Guzman landed a solid right hand that rocked him but Castaneda came back to have a big eighth round in which he badly hurt a tiring Guzman. Castaneda landed several flush punches and had Guzman grabbing on before a left hand sent him crashing into the ropes and he was seemingly out of gas through the final couple of rounds.
Middleweight Tyler Howard (16-0, 10 KOs), 24, of Crossville, Tennessee, blew away Isiah Seldon (12-2-1, 4 KOs), 30, the son of former heavyweight world titlist Bruce Seldon, in 90 seconds. Howard scored a heavy knockdown on a right hand to the head and then immediately dropped Seldon, of Somers Point, New Jersey, with a left hook to the body as referee Gary Ritter counted him.
Light heavyweight Trevor McCumby (25-0, 19 KOs), 26, of Glendale, Arizona, traded knockdowns with Felipe Romero (20-16-1, 14 KOs), 34, of Mexico, but prevailed in a tough fight, winning 78-72, 78-73, 77-73. Romero connected with a quick left hand and a right to surprisingly floor McCumby just as the fourth round was ending. McCumby shook it off and eventually dropped Romero with a right hand in the sixth round.
Junior middleweight Paul Kroll (2-0, 2 KOs), 20, of Philadelphia, stopped Antonio Wattell (1-6-1, 1 KO), 29, of Houston, in the second round. Kroll had a big first round, dropping Wattell with a straight hand and having his way for the final minute or so. He immediately blasted Wattell with a series of clean head shots to open the second round and referee Gerald Ritter stepped in at 13 seconds.
Lightweight Albert Bell (13-0, 4 KOs), 25, of Miami, who recently signed with Top Rank, had his first fight for the company and won handily. He dropped Carlos Padilla (16-9-1, 10 KOs), 28, of Colombia, twice in the first round and Padilla's corner threw in the towel after the sixth round, sending him to his fifth loss in a row.
Junior featherweight Rasheen Brown (2-0, 0 KOs), 20, of Philadelphia, escaped with a majority decision over Sebastian Baltazar (1-3, 0 KOs), 26, of Tacoma, Washington, in a fan-friendly fight. Two judges scored the fight 39-37 for Brown and one judge had it 38-38.
Bantamweight Aaron Morales (5-0, 3 KOs), 20, of Oklahoma City, cruised to a near-shutout of Francisco Lapizco (8-9, 2 KOs), 23, of Mexico, winning a slow-paced fight 59-55 on all three scorecards.
Corpus Christi, Texas, lightweight John Rincon (1-0, 1 KO), 19, knocked out Emanuel Williams (0-1), 20, of Alexandria, Louisiana, with a body shot at 1 minute, 24 seconds in the pro debut for both.