Rocha batters Cobbs in ninth-round TKO

Blair Cobbs did the talking and Alexis Rocha did the punching.

The relatively soft-spoken Rocha hurt Cobbs throughout their 10-round, all-southpaw welterweight main event fight Saturday night at the USC Galen Center in Los Angeles. Rocha floored Cobbs with a right hook in the eighth round en route to a ninth-round stoppage. The official time was 0:44.

“I will give myself a C,” Rocha stated. “I got the knockout, but I know I could’ve done a lot better. He was running around, he was very awkward at first. It was hard for me to adjust.”

Both fighters looked to establish their offense from the onset. Rocha, however, landed the cleaner shots.

Cobbs had a strong third round, connecting with a slew of counter left hands that caused some swelling around Rocha's right eye.

The fourth round began with a furious exchange from both fighters. Rocha, who hails from nearby Irvine, landed a hard right hand to the body that hurt Cobbs, as Rocha continued to apply pressure.

Halfway through the fifth round, Rocha stunned Cobbs with a hard straight left. As Cobbs attempted to reboot, Rocha let his hands go and smacked Cobbs with another straight left hand that also appeared to trouble him.

Rocha drilled Cobbs with another straight left hand in round six, but Cobbs went into survival mode and ran around the ring.

Cobbs showed signs of life in round seven with two hard left hand counter shots that found the target. However, Rocha appeared to take the round off.

Rocha hurt Cobbs again in round eight with a right hook connect out of the clinch that sent the Vegas-based fighter stumbling into the ropes. Rocha then fired away at his damaged foe with combinations. Rocha, who applied constant pressure all night, followed up with a flurry, punctuated with a right hook that landed right on the money, dropping Cobbs to the canvas for the first time in the fight. Cobbs beat the count, but Rocha nearly dropped him again with a left hand.

In round nine, Rocha finished the job, connecting on a pair of combinations that forced referee Rudy Barragan to wave off the action.

“It took me quite a while [to get Cobbs out of the ring], because I wasn't really listening to my coach," Rocha said. "I was getting careless…not [cutting] the ring off and not using my combinations. But I could’ve gotten him out of there a long time ago.”

Rocha-Cobbs was initially slated to be the chief support bout to Vergil Ortiz Jr.-Michael McKinson, but Ortiz was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis less than a week before the fight. Golden Boy subsequently elevated Rocha-Cobbs to the main event slot.

Alex Martin stepped in to face McKinson, but the Englishman won a wide unanimous decision.

With the win, Rocha improves to 19-1 (13 KOs). His only loss came to Rashidi "Speedy" Ellis in 2020. Cobbs, who suffered his first loss as a pro, dropped to 15-1-1 (10 KOs).

With the win, Rocha put himself in position for a significant fight in the future. He called out McKinson and Conor Benn after the fight.

“Whoever they put in front of me is the person I want,” Rocha said. “I don’t duck anyone. Let’s get it on with McKinson. I know that fight was offered to us. McKinson, Conor Benn in the UK, that would be a great fight.”

Cobbs was gracious in defeat.

“He landed some really good shots, and I couldn’t recover,” Cobbs said of conqueror. “He did a tremendous job.”

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