Former world title challenger Mario Barrios (27-2, 17 KOs) rebounded from a two-fight losing streak with a dominating eighth-round stoppage over Jovanie Santiago (14-3-1, 10 KOs) of Puerto Rico in front of his raucous hometown crowd.
The writing on the wall from the opening round. Barrios appeared a division or two bigger than Santiago, and the size difference showed. Barrios shook Santiago every time he landed, while Santiago’s punches bounced harmlessly off Barrios’ head and torso.
Methodically walking Santiago down, he began delivering solid shots to the head and body with increasing frequency. He would use his stinging jab to set up combinations of overhand rights and compact left hooks to the head and body. Out-sixed and outclassed, Santiago sought reprieve by clinching and smothering.
After taking the fifth round off, Barrios put his foot on the gas in the sixth and seventh and relentlessly pummelled Santiago around the ring with two-fisted flurries and usually punctuated with the left hook to the body. At this point, Santiago was essentially fighting in survival mode.
Barrios finally dropped Santiago with a right-left to the body against the ropes in the eighth. Santiago bravely beat the count, but it was all but over. After a prolonged battering from corner to corner, Santiago’s corner mercifully capitulated at 1:42 mark of the round.
In his previous two outings, Barrios was stopped by Gervota Davis in the 11th round and lost a unanimous decision to Keith Thurman in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Pero TKO8 Faust
In a battle of undefeated heavyweight prospects, former Cuban Olympian Lenier Pero (9-0, 6 KOs) came from behind to shockingly stop Victor Faust (11-1, 7 KOs) of Ukraine in the eighth round of a scheduled 10-rounder.
Faust began the fight prodding and probing for openings with range-finding jabs while occasionally firing off straight rights and left hooks. Pero kept high guard and tried to sneak in counter punches head and body. The Ukrainian gradually began finding a home for his straight right in the round, while Pero relied mostly on the straight left to the body. Faust staggered Pero at the end of the third with a cuffing left hook.
The middle rounds saw some fierce exchanges, with each fighter landing their share of direct hits. Faust appeared to be getting the better of the skirmishes but not by much. The busier of the two, Faust controlled the real estate with his jab and straight right. Faust fired off two-fisted combos, while Pero’s attack was primarily single shots to the body.
The end came suddenly and unexpectedly in the eighth. Just as it appeared Faust was cruising to a comfortable points victory, Pero landed a straight left to the nose that clearly hurt Faust and caused him to turn away in distress and stop fighting. Pero landed a follow-up flurry against a defenseless Faust, leaving the referee little choice but to call a halt to the bout at the 2:28 mark of the round