Karlos Balderas bounced back emphatically Saturday night from the devastating defeat that knocked his once-promising career off track.

The 25-year-old Balderas knocked out Fidel Cervantes in the second round of Balderas’ first fight since his stunning knockout loss in December 2019. Balderas (10-1, 9 KOs), a 2016 U.S. Olympian from Santa Maria, California, dropped Cervantes with a four-punch combination just 1:36 into their bout, but the tough Cervantes got up from beneath a bottom rope, withstood Balderas’ brutal assault toward the end of the opening round and made it to the second round.

Cervantes couldn’t take Balderas’ power much longer, though. Balderas blasted him with two left hooks and a right hand that wobbled Cervantes in the center of the ring and made referee Gary Ritter step between them to stop their scheduled six-round lightweight fight 2:03 into the second round.

The 30-year-old Cervantes (9-2-1, 4 KOs), of Kansas City, Kansas, lost by knockout for the first time in six years as a pro.

Balderas, who is now trained by former two-division champ James “Buddy” McGirt, fought for the first time since he signed a promotional agreement with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. in June.

His Top Rank debut went far different from his fight against unknown Rene Giron on the Jermell Charlo-Tony Harrison undercard 19 months ago at Toyota Arena in Ontario, California.

Giron (then 14-1, 8 KOs) knocked out Balderas with one second to go in the sixth round of a televised eight-rounder. Giron knocked down Balderas in the third and sixth rounds of that fight.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.