The rising Cuban sensation remains unbeaten and successfully defends his super middleweight strap with a dazzling victory Saturday night on FOX PBC Fight Night.
It was as if David Morrell Jr. touched everyone’s hand in The Armory, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Saturday night.
During his ring walk, he slapped hands with those he passed in the crowd, tapped the PBC on FOX broadcast team, and even went over to his opponent, Alantez Fox, to say hello before the referee brought them together.
The Armory has become so much of a home to the Cuban expatriate that the ring is like Morrell’s personal living room. It showed. Calmly, confidently, the rising 23-year-old southpaw star took Fox apart in his second WBA super middleweight title defense, winning by fourth-round stoppage at 2:06.
Morrell (6-0, 5 KOs) did it with panache, wearing a beaming smile, and seemingly hugging, or slapping hands with everyone in The Armory as he left.
It was a poised, impressive performance in Morrell’s first fight with new trainer Ronnie Shields.
“I was just listening to my team and following their instructions,” Morrell said. “We were just working in there, just like we do in the gym. They told me to let my hands go, so I did. Fox didn't have the power to keep me off of him. So, I knew that I had to take advantage of it. I felt comfortable in there and that made it easy for me.
“I love fighting here in Minnesota. This is a great opportunity to fight in front of my fans here. It really motivates me.”
Fox (28-3-1, 13 KOs) was left stunned.
“I thought I won the first round, and in the second round I knew he was going to come out aggressively,” he said. “So, I was trying to move and make it tough for him. We were holding each other on the inside and he came in with a good shot that dazed me. I was upset about the fight being stopped, but I know that my team has my best interests at heart.”
In the opening seconds of the fight, Morrell attacked immediately, with tight, sharp lefts that forced Fox back to the ropes. With 1:00 left in the first, Morrell had Fox pinned in a corner, landing multiple lefts and rights. In the last :10 of the round, Morrell clipped Fox with a short right hook on the chin, which had Fox spinning his wheels and fortunate to escape the stanza.
Morrell pounded Fox with tight right hooks in the third and was firmly in control. In the final minute of the round, Morrell snapped Fox’s head back with a devastating left uppercut.
Finally, in the fourth round, Morrell broke through Fox’s steely veneer with around 2:00 left, starting with a right. Fox reeled back into the corner. As the fighters tangled with 1:57 left, Morrell popped Fox with a blunt left to the jaw, and down went Fox. Referee Mark Nelson reached nine, and Fox got up on wobbly legs.
Morrell then burrowed in with uppercuts, strafing lefts across Fox’s face, who couldn’t defend himself. Fox’s corner wisely threw in the towel and ended it at 2:06.
With the advent of 2022, Morrell looks like he will be a major factor at 168, a loaded division that features the world’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, Canelo Alvarez.
“I respect everybody in the super middleweight division, but I want to fight all of them,” Morrell said. “I've got this belt right now and I'm open to fight any of them. They just have to step up.”
Jose Valenzuela powers past Austin Dulay
Lightweight southpaw Jose Valenzuela (11-0, 7 KOs) dropped Austin Dulay (14-3, 10 KOs) three times in the first round, and once in the second, en route to a fourth-round stoppage at :02 in a scheduled 10-rounder.
Valenzuela put all his skills on display, from his superior hand speed to, of course, the prodigious power that has made him one of the most touted prospects in boxing today.
Dulay showed great courage in taking a brutal beating, and still having the wherewithal to fight back, when referee Charlie Fitch brought him over to the ringside doctor to look at him at the beginning of the fourth round.
“The game plan was to use my jab, touch him to the body and then finish him up top,” Valenzuela said. “I just stayed patient, took the shots he gave me and landed a good one. I was surprised he fell right away, but he showed a lot of heart. I wasn't surprised by the stoppage. I was going to stop him eventually and seriously hurt him. It was only a matter of time.”
Albert Puello cruises to points win over VeShawn Owens
Super lightweight Alberto Puello (20-0, 11 KOs) remained undefeated with a dominant unanimous 10-round decision over VeShawn Owens (13-3, 12 KOs).
Southpaw Puello controlled the action from the opening bell, landing an array of power punches as Owens charged in, both to the head and body. Owens had no answers for Puello’s boxing skills, but never stopped coming forward.
Final cards read 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92.
Richardson Hitchens dominates Malik Hawkins
On the PBC on FS1 portion, super lightweight Richardson Hitchins (13-0, 5 KOs) used superior boxing skills to easily win a 10-round unanimous decision over Malik Hawkins (18-2, 11 KOs). The pair, who had not fought in over a year, went at each other during their Friday weigh-in.
“My strategy was to box him and make it easy. I knew he was strong, but I hurt him in the fight,” Hitchins said. “I just wanted to make it an easy fight because I knew he was too slow to outbox me. I knew his new coaches were going to train him to walk me down.
“When we had the altercation yesterday, I did it on purpose. I knew that by making him mad, he was just going to try to come forward and take me out.”
Hawkins had no answers for Hitchens’ steady jab which controlled much of the action. Based on this performance, Hitchens will be one to watch going forward. Scorecards read 100-90, 97-93 and 96-94.
For a closer look at Morrell vs Fox, check out our fight night page.