Brooklyn welterweight Gabriel “Tito” Bracero (24-2, 5 KOs) came into hostile territory and knocked out hometown favorite Danny “Bhoy” O’Connor (26-3, 10 KOs) only 41 seconds into the first round, headlining tonight’s loaded Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on NBCSN card at historic Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Bracero, who handed O’Connor his first pro loss four years ago, used an overhand right that O’Connor, fighting out of nearby Framingham (MA) did not see coming. O’Connor was out cold before he hit the mat.
“I worked on that punch for six weeks,” Bracero said after the fight. “In my last fight, I fought a southpaw and made some mistakes. I specifically worked on that punch because Danny’s a southpaw. I slipped to the side and threw the right. This was the first time I went away to camp, away from my family.
“I’m just so humbled and grateful. I knew coming in here that all the pressure was on him (O’Connor); the crowd would try to take the beast out of me and put me on the defense.
Everything is going to work out (regarding his next fight). I’ll let Tommy Gallagher and Lou DiBella take care of my next fight. I’m ready to go right back in the gym.”
O’Connor was taken by ambulance to the nearby Lowell General Hospital for observation.
Hometown hero “Irish” Micky Ward and National Hockey League Hall-of-Famer NBCSN analyst “Sugar” Ray Leonard returned to the same building in which he captured a National Golden Gloves Tournament title in 1973.
Undefeated Dominican super bantamweight KO artist Jonathan “Salomon King” Guzman (20-0, 20 KOs), fighting out of nearby Lawrence (MA), made it a perfect 20 fights, 20 KO wins via a ninth-round stoppage of a game Danny Aquino (17-3, 10 KOs) in the 10-round co-feature.
Guzman dropped Aquino, a Mexican native fighting out of Connecticut, in the second round. The badly hurt Aquino, however, lasted until the ninth round when Guzman ended the show with a brutal left hook. Aquino, another New England Golden Gloves champion who won his title in this very building, had never been stopped as a professional.
Quincy (MA) featherweight Ryan “The Polish Prince” Kielczweski (24-1, 7 KOs), who won two New England Golden Gloves championships at Lowell Memorial Auditorium, won a 10-round, hard fought decision over Brooklyn’s Rafael “Dynamite” Vazquez (16-2, 13 KOs).
Kielczweski out boxed Vazquez in the first four rounds, but Vasquez came charging back and opened a cut over Kielczweski’s right eye in the eighth and rocked the local fighter in the final 30 seconds of the fight The judges had Kielczweski winning the entertaining fight by scores of 97-93 twice and 96-94.
“God bless Danny O’Connor. He’s a champion. Just because he lost here today, I still tip my hat off to him. It takes a real champion to come in here and do what he does. I wish him the best.
“It’s an amazing feeling. The truth is, I was a winner before I walked in the ring. This is a dream come true. I have dreamed about this day for a long time. I made some mistakes in my prior fights, but I went back to the drawing board, went to camp, fixed my mistakes and came in here super focused today.
On what he said to O’Connor after the fight…
“My message to Danny was, after my last fight, after my last loss, I was down. I went through a depression. I told him not to let that happen to him. To pick himself back up, to be proud of himself. To go home to his beautiful wife and kids and enjoy life. I didn’t want the same thing to happen to him; that happened to me.”
“I proved that I can fight, and I can punch. This fight was an example of what I can do.
“From the second round I fought with two hurt hands. It didn’t matter to my hands; I was going to stop him.”
“Before this fight, I knew he could punch. I thought I avoided it for the whole fight, but in the 10th round, he got me. It felt pretty good to get rocked for the first time, just to know what it feels like.”
“I kind of started off slow, but in the middle rounds, I started putting my punches together, throwing four, five, six punches at a time, and it was working. But he came back every time and started trading with me.
(On going 10 rounds…)
“It’s all the same. You’re just as tired after a four-round fight as you are after six, eight or 10. You leave it all till the end of the fight. It all feels the same.
(On getting hurt in the 10th….)
“I didn’t know where my feet were. It was a strange feeling; I had no idea what that felt like. He caught me, and I could see straight, but I felt myself going left and right.
“He’s a tough guy. I really needed that fight.
“We knew he wasn’t much of a volume puncher. It didn’t surprise us when he came on in the middle rounds.
“The blood wasn’t in my eye. I didn’t know I was cut until the referee came over.
“I like to entertain in the ring. I don’t need to do this. I do it because I like to fight and entertain.
“This was my favorite venue to fight in as an amateur. I fought here 10-15 times as an amateur.”
“He was a slick fighter, he moved, and he had great power. He was in great shape. He’s young; I will be 38 this year. No excuse, I moved up to 126 pounds to face him, I’m 122 pounds.
“I thought I won the last three rounds. Especially the ninth and tenth round. The tenth round was big. He maybe connected ten punches in the whole round. I rocked him. I hurt him. But, we’re fighting in his hometown, and I’m grateful to him for giving me the opportunity.”
Polish heavyweight Adam Kownacki (12-0, 10 KOs), fighting out of Brooklyn, kept his undefeated record intact, turning in a workmanlike effort to win an eight-round unanimous decision (78-73 X 3) over Rodney Hernandez (8-3-1, 1 KO).
Irish junior lightweight Patrick “The Punisher” Hyland (31-1, 14 KOs), a 2012 Interim world featherweight title challenger, lived up to is nickname. The Dubliner dropped tough David “El Finito” Martinez (18-7-1, 3 KOs) once on his way to a one-sided fight that ended at 18 seconds of the eighth round when Hyland caught Martinez with a vicious left hook.
Irish middleweight champion Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan (22-1, 15 KOs) outclassed light heavyweight veteran David Toribio (21-16, 14 KOs) and ended the fight with a second-round knockout. Former European champion Stephen “The Rock” Ormond (19-2, 10 KOs) dropped former world title challenger Michael “Cold Blood” Clark twice en route to an opening round victory by knockout.
New York lightweight prospect Titus Williams (3-0, 2 KOs) remained unbeaten, stopping Arthur Parker (1-14-2, 1 KO) in the second round, while two-time world title challenger Fernando “El Vasco” Saucedo (57-6-3, 10 KOs) registered a second-round technical knockout over lightweight Carlos Fulgencio (19-7-1, 12 KOs) in the opening bout of the evening.