LAS VEGAS – Karlos Balderas continued his comeback Saturday from a devastating defeat that derailed the junior lightweight prospect’s career in December 2019.

Balderas basically beat up Julio Cortez for three-plus rounds, until a punishing combination by Balderas prompted referee Raul Caiz Jr. to stop their six-round lightweight bout at 2:13 of the fourth round, with Cortez still on his feet. Balderas blasted Cortez with a right uppercut and an overhand right that knocked Cortez backward and caused Caiz to step between them in the second bout on the Terence Crawford-Shawn Porter undercard at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s Michelob ULTRA Arena.

The 25-year-old Balderas improved to 11-1, recorded his 10th knockout and won for the second time in the three months since he returned from a surprising sixth-round knockout loss to Juan Rene Tellez nearly two years ago. Balderas signed a promotional contract with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. earlier this year and hired veteran trainer James “Buddy” McGirt, a two-weight world champion, to guide him.

Cortez (15-4, 11 KOs), a San Jose, California, resident raised in Ecuador, lost inside the distance for the first time in seven years as a pro.

Balderas’ hand speed and power troubled the durable Cortez throughout their brief bout. He buzzed Cortez with a right hand and backed him into a neutral corner in the third round, before he picked up where he left off in the fourth round.

Balderas returned to the ring August 14, when the 2016 U.S. Olympian knocked out Fidel Cervantes in the second round at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Balderas became the first opponent to knock out Cervantes (9-2-1, 4 KOs), of Kansas City, Kansas, as well.

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