Super bantamweight Ronny Rios 31-3 (15) knocked out previously undefeated prospect Diego De La Hoya 21-1, 1NC (10) at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California on Saturday night.
A left hook to the body followed by a right uppercut to the head dropped De La Hoya to the canvas in the sixth round and while he beat the count, referee Rudy Barragan waved off the contest at the 1:17 mark.
“I feel great. It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Rios, 29. “I was mentally focused for this fight. I think I overthought in those other fights.
“I was kind of retired. I was inspired to come back to the ring. I believed in myself. I still have a lot more years. I pushed my team.
“De La Hoya pushed me because he was likely training harder than me. [The knockdown] was a shock. He’s a warrior. He had never been knocked down before and he just kept coming forward.”
The fight featured some fiery exchanges in the early rounds with both boxers letting their hands go and connecting with solid shots. The left hook was the punch of choice for Rios, while De La Hoya had good success with his right cross.
The pace levelled off in the fourth but late in the fifth the pair lit up again, throwing hands that had the ringside crowd on their feet.
When the stoppage came in the sixth round judge Hubert Minn had Rios ahead 50-46, judge Max DeLuca had Rios leading 49-46, while judge Alejandro Rochin surprisingly had the fight a clean sweep for De La Hoya.
De La Hoya, the younger cousin of promoter Oscar De La Hoya, blamed an off night for his defeat.
“I didn’t feel good. My head was hurting. I had a good camp, but I didn’t feel right (tonight). I accept my loss just like I accept my wins,” he said.