Angel Acosta knocked out Juan Alejo with a left to the jaw at 1:33 of the 10th round Saturday night at Madison Square Garden on the undercard of Miguel Cotto’s final fight.
“It’s taken me five years to get here, and I’m cherishing this moment for me and for Puerto Rico,” Acosta said. “I’ve learned a lot since my last fight for a world title against Kosei Tanaka, and this fight proves that I learned and fixed all I needed to win a world championship.”
Acosta plowed through his first 16 pro fights, winning by KO or TKO against everyone who dared get in the ring with him. But then he got in a ring in Japan with WBO junior flyweight champ Kosei Tanaka in May, and Acosta came out on the wrong end of a 12-round decision.
The 27-year-old from Puerto Rico was back for the first time since his first loss.
The WBO junior flyweight title again was at stake. Tanaka gave up the belt this past week because he’s heading on up to the flyweight division. So the 108-pound championship was there for Acosta or Mexico’s Alejo.
Many Puerto Rican fans were the stands, some holding flags. They cheered on Acosta, chanting his nickname at times: “Tito!” They got especially loud when he held up his nice new belt.
Mexico’s Rey Vargas made his second defense of the WBC super bantamweight championship against Colombia native Oscar Negrete. Both arrived undefeated. Vargas stayed that way, surviving cuts above both eyes from head butts to win a 12-round unanimous decision. He improved to 31-0 while Negrete fell to 17-1.
“I am glad that we got the win, and I continue being unbeaten with my belt,” Vargas said. “It was difficult finding my rhythm at the beginning of the fight, and the cuts did not help. I have the humility to say that I made my share of mistakes, but I feel that Negrete fought very dirty and was not a very good boxer.”
Brooklyn welterweight Zachary Ochoa won by unanimous decision over Mexico’s Erick Martinez in a six-round fight. All three judges saw it 60-54, enabling Ochoa to improve to 18-1.
“This puts me in a great spot in my career,” he said. “I was shaking off a lot of dust since I haven’t been able to fight consistently, but this proves to me that I’m still worthy of the sport. I still have work to do, but when I was able to land my shots, I was able to connect them crisp and effectively.”
Ronny Rios, coming off a decision loss against WBC super bantamweight champ Rey Vargas in August, improved to 29-2. The 27-year-old from California pounded out a unanimous 10-round featherweight decision over Deivis Julio of Colombia.
“It was an ugly win,’’ Rios said, “but we got to accomplish it on the undercard of Miguel Cotto.”