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Karass, Figueroa and Thurman Victorious at Knockout Kings II

(Photo © German Villasenor)
(Photo © German Villasenor)

Photo & Report By German Villasenor

San Antonio, TX- Three bouts competed with each other for an extra 10-grand thrown in for good measure by Golden Boy Promotions for the best KO of the night as part of the aptly-named “Knockout Kings II” card Saturday night in front of a boisterous 8,811 strong at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
The show did not disappoint as perennial welterweight contender, Los Mochis, Sinaloa’s, Jesus Soto Karass, 28-8-3 (18), put an exclamation point on the night’s show and more importantly earned his most important win to-date, a final round KO win over former WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto. The vacant NABF welterweight title was at stake.
Taking his career back in dramatic fashion, Karass, a notorious grinder, put on an excellent performance against Berto and kept the momentum going over his previous best win over Selcuk Aydin last January.

Karass began fast, using combinations at a distance while using his superior reach, constant body shots and return fire upstairs, rocking and nearly getting an early stoppage over Berto in the first round. A series of head shots had the former champion in deep trouble as his legs locked up.
Surviving the disastrous round, Berto made a comeback in the next couple of rounds, using his hand speed to find a home for uppercuts. Karass briefly reverted to old bad habits, such as falling in with lingering jabs and right hands to the body.
Karass regained focus from then on, getting back to punishing Berto with body work and using well-placed uppercuts, nailing Berto repeatedly with hooks to the head. The Haitian fighter’s face quickly bruised and swelled midway into the fight.
Berto, whose legs looked the worse for wear as the rounds went on, did put on a brave effort, especially after injuring his right shoulder in the later rounds. Largely a one-armed fighter from that point, he would do his best work using his jab, left hooks and uppercuts. Berto sporadically used his right with his left bruising the right side of Karass’ face.
Berto would score an official knockdown in the 11th round from a body shot, which Karass claimed strayed low.
Karass took control with a furious, nonstop attack in the round, which was going his way before the knockdown.
Told by his corner to just box his way to a decision, Karass chose to not leave the decision in the hands of his corner. After coming out with bad intentions in the final round, during an exchange, the lanky Mexican caught Berto with a picture-perfect, short, left hook, putting Berto onto the ground.
Hurt but still game, Berto got up but his legs were failing him. Referee John Schorle called off the fight at 48 seconds into the final round. With the loss, Berto saw his record dip to 28-3 (22), while the resurgent Karass stated he would fight anyone his management and Golden Boy Promotions put in front of him next.
The fight hung in the final round’s outcome, as the official scorecards read 105-103 a piece with the third reading 114-114 entering the 12th.
In a “Fight of the Year” candidate, lightweight Omar “Panterita” Figueroa, 22-0-1 (17), retained his undefeated status as he was tested in a brutal 12-round phone booth war against Japan’s Nihito Arakawa, 24-3-1 (16), who gained a great amount of respect as he took a scary amount of punishment by the murderous-punching Figueroa. Arakawa came back with punches in bunches, leaving everyone in disbelief that he would not only fire back at Figueroa until the final bell but he would be standing at the end of the fight.
Figueroa scored two knockdowns in the fight, first from a series of shots which momentarily made Arakawa drop to a knee in the second round, then when Arakawa sustained a standing eight-count against the ropes in the sixth stanza.
The fight, did not need half – or, for that matter, a quarter - the size of any ring as both men traded shots on the inside. Arakawa somehow took the body shots for which Figueroa is known to destroy opponents with , driving Figueroa back and landing bothersome shots. Figueroa was forced to throw single haymakers in spots as the fight went to the late rounds.
Figueroa’s power was reduced greatly as he would claim after the fight that he had injured both mitts in the second or third round. Coupled with an accidental headbutt which left him bleeding profusely from the nose midway into the fight, Figueroa closed Arakawa’s left eye by the eighth frame.
Throwing everything as the Japanese fighter was not enough to get the stoppage as the bout went the distance to the amazement of one and all, reaching the 12th and final round’s bell.
Scores were 118-108 (twice) and 119-107. Figueroa claimed the interim WBC lightweight belt with the hard-fought decision.
Welterweight Keith Thurman, 21-0 (19), showed he could adjust his fight plan to go from slugging it out to boxing and ultimately flashing his power in order to earn a 10th round KO over an effectively awkward and ultra-tough Argentinean in Diego Chaves,  22-1 (18).
Thurman suffered a busted nose early on in the fight as Chaves worked the body and thumped Thurman’s face with straight hands. Both fighters had their highlights with momentum changing as the fight went on.
Thurman would make changes and work angles, using his hand speed to set up a well-placed body shot, which put Chaves down in the ninth frame.
The end came as an all-out assault by Thurman put a still-hurt Chaves away at 28 seconds of the 10th round. With the eye-catching stoppage, Thurman was the winner of the $10,000 bonus prize for the best KO of the night.
Questions and comments can be sent to German at

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