NEW YORK -- Junior lightweight world titleholder Tevin Farmer said before making his second title defense that he wanted to steal the show from the Canelo Alvarez-Rocky Fielding main event and predicted he would knock out challenger Francisco Fonseca inside four rounds on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Although Farmer did not steal the show with an impressive knockout, he retained his 130-pound world title with ease, cruising to a one-sided decision, 117-111 on all three scorecards. ESPN.com had it 119-109 for Farmer.
"It was a good performance," Farmer said. "He was really, really tough. And after a few rounds, we saw that and we started working on things. It's all a road to improve. I say it was a C+, B- performance."
Farmer (28-4-1, 6 KOs), 28, a southpaw, won the title in Australia in August and was in his third world title bout in 4½ months -- an unusually active schedule for a top-level fighter -- so he was sharp.
The quick-handed Farmer attacked the taller Fonseca's body and threw combinations on the inside throughout the fight. He also landed several uppercuts and caught Fonseca with many clean punches over his low guard. Fonseca's bruised face showed the impact of those shots.
Fonseca (22-2-1, 16 KOs), 24, of Costa Rica, caught Farmer with some shots also, but few were clean, as Farmer rolled with many of them. Fonseca also rarely threw combinations.
In the 11th round, Farmer appeared to stun Fonseca multiple times with head shots.
"I felt like every round I was seconds away from getting the KO," said Fonseca, whose three-fight winning streak ended. "He's an awkward fighter, and I had trouble adjusting. Overall, I'm happy with what I did in there."
Both of Fonseca's losses have come in world title fights. In August 2017, he suffered an eighth-round loss to Gervonta Davis on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor undercard in a fight only Fonseca was eligible to win the belt because Davis had been stripped for being overweight.
Farmer will be back in action in a hometown defense in Philadelphia in March. He had been calling out Davis -- who won another title after being stripped -- for a unification fight but cannot get any traction.
"Who wants to fight me? That's the question," Farmer said. "Is [Davis] the fight that I want? We've moved past him. Does he want to fight me? Like I said, we active, we getting paid. It's time for him to fight and stay active and then he can come see me."
Ali dominates Herrera
Former junior middleweight world titlist Sadam Ali (27-2, 14 KOs) made a successful return to the welterweight division as he cruised to a near-shutout decision against Mauricio Herrera (24-8, 7 KOs).
Ali won by scores of 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92 in a messy fight that included a lot of holding and grappling. But when the punches flew, Ali beat Herrera to the target time and again.
"Honestly, I didn't look good in there. I felt like I won sloppy," Ali said. "Herrera made me look terrible in there. He's a rugged fighter. I felt like the cards were a lot closer than what the judges said they were."
It was one year ago this month, also at Madison Square Garden, that Ali, 30, of Brooklyn, New York, outpointed Miguel Cotto in a major upset to take his 154-pound world title and send the Puerto Rican legend into retirement. But Ali, undersized for the division, suffered a one-sided fourth-round knockout to Jaime Munguia in May in his first defense and decided to return his more natural 147 pounds against Herrera, 38, of Riverside, California, whose two-fight winning streak ended.
Ali nearly doubled Herrera in punches landed, 146-75, according to CompuBox.
"It was an OK fight. I had to shake a lot of the rust off, but it was a good pace," Herrera said. "Overall, I thought I won the fight. I had him missing a lot in there, and I wasn't that tired."
"Kingry" knocks out Rodriguez
Lightweight Ryan "Kingry" Garcia, the 2017 ESPN.com prospect of the year, roughed up and knocked out Braulio Rodriguez in the fifth round, drawing roars from the crowd.
In his first fight since pairing with trainer Eddy Reynoso and joining him in Alvarez's training camp, Garcia took the wild-swinging Rodriguez apart.
"Man, I can't thank [the Reynoso family] enough. They took me in like family," Garcia said. "They took care of me good. I don't speak Spanish, but they took care of me. I don't speak Spanish, but I got the Mexican blood in me. Viva Mexico!"
With about 40 seconds left in the first round, Garcia (17-0, 14 KOs), 20, of Victorville, California, connected with a clean left hand that dropped Rodriguez to his rear end and sent his eyes rolling into his head. Rodriguez barely beat the count and was able to hold on for dear life to make it out of the round.
Referee Ron Lipton docked a point from Rodriguez in the third round for low blows, but it hardly mattered in the eventual outcome. In the fifth round, Garcia buckled him with a right hand and then unloaded several more punches, including a left hand, that put Rodriguez (19-4, 17 KOs), 30, of the Dominican Republic, on his back and nearly out of the ring as Lipton counted him out at 1 minute, 14 seconds.
Rodriguez lost his third fight in a row.
"I wasn't looking for the knockout because a lot of people say, if this kid can fight, I just see skills on Instagram," Garcia said. "I wanted to show them that I can fight and I am for real. That was the main thing coming in. We knew from the weigh-ins when he pushed me that he would try to intimidate me. I think that's what he was trying to do, but I came in here and I was like, that's not going to happen."
Taylor shuts out Wahlstrom
Unified women's lightweight world titleholder Katie Taylor cruised to a dominant decision win over Eva Wahlstrom, a long-reigning junior lightweight world titlist who moved up one weight division for the fight. All three judges scored the fight 100-90 for Taylor, who retained her title for the sixth time.
Taylor (12-0, 5 KOs), 32, an Olympic gold medalist from Ireland who was competing in the United States for the fourth time, was facing a woman she had fought on several occasions during their amateur careers and had no trouble.
Taylor came forward and unleashed rapid-fire combinations throughout the fight against the slower Wahlstrom (22-1-1, 3 KOs), 38, of Finland, who suffered a bloody cut on her forehead from an accidental head clash.
"I thought it was a very good performance," Taylor said. "She's obviously a fantastic champion and a great, great fighter. I knew it was going to be a great showcase for women's boxing. It was such a privilege to fight here in Madison Square Garden in front of so many Irish people, so thank you so much for the support."
Taylor is on a collision course with six-division world titlist Amanda Serrano in 2019, and she had Serrano on her mind after the fight.
"Obviously, one of the biggest fighters out there is Amanda Serrano, and that's a huge, huge fight," Taylor said. "Let's get it on."
Junior lightweight Lamont Roach Jr. (18-0-1, 7 KOs), 23, of Washington D.C., had no problems with Alberto Mercado (15-2-1, 3 KOs), 30, of Puerto Rico, outpointing him to retain his regional belt. Roach won by scores of 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93. Roach had a big seventh round. He landed punch after punch and had Mercado reeling from a right hand, then hurt him again with another in the closing seconds of the round. There was good action in the final few rounds, especially in the 10th, when they closed the fight in a heated exchange.
"I controlled most of the fight and felt like I hurt him in almost every round," Roach said. "I am proud of the fight that I had. Most fighters don't take the type of fights I say yes to. I'll do what it takes to make it to the top, and that means fighting skilled fighters."
Junior welterweight Yves Ulysse Jr. (17-1, 9 KOs), 30, of Montreal, scored two knockdowns and cruised to a decision win over Maximiliano Becerra (16-2-2, 8 KOs), 31, of Santa Ana, California. He won 79-71, 78-72 and 78-72. In the sixth round, Ulysse buckled Becerra with a right hand, then landed another to the chin that hurt him again, forcing Becerra to take a knee. Another similar shot dropped Becerra in the seventh round.
"It was truly a dream coming true to fight at the Madison Square Garden," Ulysse said. "All the best fighters have fought here, and the atmosphere is really unique. It felt like home in the ring. I'm happy about my performance: I stick to the game plan, was patient to get the openings and hurt him."
Super middleweight Bilal Akkawy (19-0-1, 14 KOs), 25, of Australia, stopped Victor Fonseca (17-9-1, 14 KOs), 25, of Mexico, in the seventh round of a grueling back-and-forth fight. Fonseca had his moments; but in the end, Akkawy backed him into the ropes and was teeing off on him, landing a brutal uppercut and left hand, before referee Steve Willis intervened at 2 minutes, 53 seconds.
"There is a lot of room for improvement. I wasn't myself in there, but I'll be working on that when I get back to the gym," Akkawy said. "It's an honor to have fought here [at Madison Square Garden]."