CARSON, Calif. (AP) - Hampered by a hurting hip, Marcos Maidana absorbed everything Josesito Lopez could throw at him for two rounds. When Maidana got his legs back under him, the Argentine brawler made sure Lopez didn't get another chance.
Maidana stopped Lopez late in the sixth round of their welterweight bout Saturday night, finishing a tumultuous fight with a merciless rally for his third straight victory.
Maidana (34-3, 31 KOs) absorbed ample punishment from Lopez in a back-and-forth meeting of two willing brawlers, with Lopez particularly dominating the third and fourth rounds after Maidana took a shot to the hip. But Maidana rallied and knocked down Lopez with an overhand right in the sixth, following it with a crushing right uppercut that left Lopez wobbly and glassy-eyed, forcing the stoppage.
``My character and my guts got me this victory,'' Maidana said through a translator. ``In the second round, he hit me in my hip, and it was like I was paralyzed. The pain lasted for two rounds, and that's when he landed the shots. But my desire to win got me through it. He underestimated my power, and I knew I could knock him out.''
Maidana has won five of his last six bouts, and this victory should set him up for a big-money fight against another welterweight star, or even fellow Argentine Lucas Matthysse in the future.
Cuba's Erislandy Lara also survived the first two knockdowns of his career and stopped Alfredo Angulo in the 10th round of a similarly entertaining 154-pound bout in front of a sellout crowd outdoors at Home Depot Center.
Lara was knocked down in the fourth and ninth rounds by the brawling Angulo, but the former Cuban amateur star apparently broke Angulo's orbital bone around his left eye while peppering him with dozens of big shots.
Angulo's face was reddened and badly damaged when he abruptly turned his back and walked to his corner in the 10th, in too much pain to continue. The ringside doctor sent Angulo to a hospital.
The main event matched that bout's excitement and violence. Maidana came out with his usual aggression, knocking back Lopez in the first two rounds, but Lopez (30-6) replied with big combinations and more push in the third and fourth.
Maidana went to the canvas in the fourth, but it was ruled a slip. Maidana rallied again in the fifth, and he finished the fight with Lopez trapped on the ropes when referee Lou Moret stepped in.
``I felt like it was a premature stoppage,'' said Lopez, who has lost three of his last four bouts. ``He hurt me a little, but we're professionals, and we fight in situations like that. He stunned me with a good right hand, but I was not out of the fight.''
Lopez led 48-47 on two judges' scorecards at the time of the stoppage, with Maidana leading 48-47 on the third.
The biggest crowd in Home Depot Center history packed the outdoor stadium south of downtown Los Angeles, filling the site of several memorable brawls in recent years. Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer said the 8,629 fans surpassed the previous attendance record for Israel Vazquez's third fight with Rafael Marquez on March 1, 2008.
Lopez was a popular second-tier fighter from nearby Riverside, Calif., until he caught a wave of success for the past year since his stunning upset victory over Victor Ortiz at Staples Center last June. Lopez, a late replacement for Andre Berto in the bout, broke Ortiz's jaw and forced the former welterweight champion to quit on his stool after the ninth round.
Lopez parlayed his self-described ``Rocky moment'' into a lucrative bout with Saul ``Canelo'' Alvarez last September in Las Vegas, giving a decent challenge to the 154-pound Mexican champion before getting stopped in the fifth round.
Moving back down to a more comfortable weight, Lopez accepted a difficult matchup with Maidana, one of the sport's most exciting fighters. Maidana, who also beat Ortiz in June 2009 to make his international name, defeated Mexican star Erik Morales and lost decisions to Amir Khan and Devon Alexander recently, cementing a spot among Argentina's top fighters with Sergio Martinez and Matthysse.
Maidana has been with respected trainer Robert Garcia for more than a year, but still hasn't lost the instincts that made him an entertaining fighter.
Even before Maidana and Lopez hit the ring, the show could have been stolen in the penultimate bout.
Lara outboxed Angulo in the opening three rounds, picking him apart with left hands and short shots inside - but Angulo abruptly changed the story in the fourth round when he knocked Lara to the canvas with a big left hand. Lara got up unsteadily, but recovered to survive the round.
Although Lara fought a smarter, more efficient bout in the ensuing rounds, he went down again in the ninth when Angulo caught him with another left hand, punctuating the shot by standing over the fallen Lara.
The Cuban got up - and he finished the fight in the 10th with one last big combination to Angulo's face with 1:10 left. Angulo absorbed the shots, but abruptly turned his back and walked to his corner while Lara celebrated the win.
``I was still winning the fight, even when he knocked me down,'' Lara said through a translator. ``I knew I was going to stop him in the later rounds. He caught me with good shots, (but) I fought too hard to get here, through shark-infested waters in Cuba, to let a few knockdowns get in my way. Angulo had good power, but I used my movement and stepped and slid around him and landed my big left hand.''
Lara led 85-84 on two judges' scorecards at the time of the stoppage, and Angulo led 86-83 on the third card. The Associated Press also had Lara up 85-84.
``I wanted to stand in front of him and give the fans a good fight,'' Lara said. ``That's when I got caught.''
Earlier, junior middleweight prospect Jermell Charlo kept his unblemished record with a narrow unanimous decision over Demetrius Hopkins, the nephew of Bernard Hopkins. The cautious technical bout didn't impress the sellout crowd, which booed both fighters.