GLENDALE, Arizona – Diego Pacheco presented his final case for strong consideration in the Prospect of the Year race.
The 21-year-old Los Angeles-based super middleweight closed out 2022 with his fourth knockout in as many fights, as he stopped Adrian Luna in the second round of their regional title fight. Pacheco scored three knockdowns before referee Tony Zaino was alerted to stop the contest at 2:08 of round two in a DAZN-aired undercard bout Saturday evening from Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
The fast-rising Pacheco has shown tremendous growth under the guidance of Jose Benavidez Sr., a relationship that includes regular work with unbeaten former two-time WBC super middleweight champ David Benavidez. He came out poised and steady in the opening round, focusing on the body versus the physically bigger Luna (24-9-2, 16KOs). A left hook had Luna hurt along the ropes, but was spared a follow up attack after Zaino called time in ruling the shot as a low blow.
Pacheco dialed up the pressure in round two, which Luna just couldn’t handle.
The first of three knockdowns came early in the round, as a right hand by Pacheco left Luna face down on the canvas. The 32-year-old Mexican somehow beat the count but immediately found himself under attack. Pacheco mercilessly stalked his foe, driving him into the ropes and eventually down on the deck courtesy of a body shot.
Luna was down for a third time just before the final minute of the round. He was unsteady in making it to his feet, staggering into a neutral corner. The referee seemed ready to let him continue, unaware of the ringside inspector and Luna’s corner making their way to the ring apron signaling for a stoppage. Zaino turned and acknowledged the gesture, as Pacheco had already mounted his corner turnbuckle in celebration of a breakout year.
Pacheco advanced to 17-0 (14KOs) on the year. Benavidez Sr. told BoxingScene.com that the plan is to look to bigger names in 2023 as they transition from top prospect to aspiring super middleweight contender.
Headlining the show, lineal junior bantamweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada (43-3, 28KOs) of Hermosillo, Mexico faces Managua’s legendary former four-division champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (51-3, 41KOs) in their highly anticipated rubber match.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox