Ricky Romero gained Martin Cardenas' attention with two first-round knockdowns, and went on to keep his California Super Flyweight title with a ninth-round technical knockout Tuesday night at the Sports Arena.
Romero (18-1) from Torrance was the quicker fighter and more aggressive boxer all night and never gave Cardenas (20-6) a chance to breathe.
"I tried to be quicker," Romero said. "He was a little stronger but he never seemed to land more than one punch at a time."
Meanwhile, it seemed like all Romero did was land combinations.
The first knockdown came just a minute into the fight. Romero set it up with a number of stiff left jabs, then connected with a straight right hand off a combination.
Just 30 seconds later, Romero sent Cardenas to one knee with a left hook. Romero was cautioned for hitting Cardenas while he was down, but a point was not taken away.
"I was hitting him as hard as I could in the first round, but he had a strong chin," Romero said. "But I didn't want to get too excited and overconfident, so I tried to be patient."
Although Cardenas recovered from the knockdowns, Romero controlled the second, third and fourth rounds with an effective left jab and lead right hands. Late in the fourth round, Romero landed a left hook flush to Cardenas' face, his best punch since the first round.
In the sixth, Romero was backed up for the first time, but he quickly turned the momentum back in his favor with a flurry of left hooks and uppercuts.
Romero's consistent left jab and overhand right began to take its toll on Cardenas' face in the seventh and eighth rounds. A mouse under Cardenas' left eye, which had developed in the first round, began to close.
The ninth round was Romero's most dominant of the fight. His left jab and overhand right landed at will and virtually closed Cardenas left eye.
As the 10th round was about to begin, the referee stopped the bout.
Romero, who lost his only fight to Jose Quireno, said he hopes to fight San Diego's Tony "Bazooka" DeLuca in the near future.
Fresno's Juan Torres (126) won a unanimous four-round decision over El Centro's Roberto Mercado. Torres (2-0) knocked Mercado (2-2) down in the second round and easily won every round.
San Diego's Richard Evans (161) made a successful debut with a fourth-round knockout of Dan Lopez of Los Angeles.