INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Diego Pacheco’s homecoming on Saturday was a bit of a struggle early on, but he was able to secure a knockout win.
Pacheco stopped former world title challenger Marcelo Coceres in Round 9 before a partisan crowd at the YouTube Theatre, not far from his hometown of South Central Los Angeles.
Pacheco, The Ring’s No. 9-rated super middleweight, improved to 20-0, 17 KOs.
The fight was fought at a slow pace through the first two rounds, as the taller 22-year-old contender measured Coceres with a steady jab.
Both fighters let their hands go more during the third round, as Coceres attempted to get on the inside of Pacheco’s guard. Once he was able to get in range, Coceres focused his attack to the body, while Pacheco attempted to connect with straight right hands to Coceres’ head.
Coceres did his best work, up to that point, early in round five, connecting on an overhand right. Moments later, he connected on a lead left hook to the chin of Pacheco, who took the punches well. With about a minute left in the round, Coceres landed a lead left hook that snapped back the head of Pacheco.
The success during that round gave Coceres more confidence during round six as he walked down Pacheco. Coceres continued to throw lead and counter left hooks as Pacheco attempted to throw and land straight right hands to Coceres’ head.
Coceres continued to fight on his front foot going into the second half of the fight. Coceres was able to connect with a series of punches early in round eight, but Pacheco responded with a combination to the head that brought cheers from the crowd. About midway through the round, a left hook to the head landed that snapped Coceres’ head. Pacheco did his best work during the final moments, as he pinned Coceres against the ropes, connecting with a series of hooks and crosses to the head.
Both fighters had their moments in round nine, but a combination sent Coceres back against the ropes. A right uppercut to the head dropped Coceres to the canvas, against the ropes. Coceres remained on one knee, as referee Ray Corona counted him out at 2:53.
“I knew it was going to be a tough fight,” said Pacheco after the fight. “Coceres came to fight. I needed this fight in my career.
“After boxing a few rounds, I was able to let my hands go more and land (punches). It was a good experience for me. He was taking good shots. I’m proud of my performance. I could’ve done better.
“I feel like I’m one of the top guys in the division. 2024, I’m ready for whatever.”
In his previous fight on July 7, Pacheco stopped once-beaten Martin Gallegos in the fourth round in Monterrey, Mexico. On March 11, Pacheco dropped fringe contender Jack Cullen twice en route to a knockout win in Liverpool, England.
Coceres, who resides in Buenos Aires, Argentina, falls to 32-6-1, 18 KOs.
Including the loss to Pacheco, the 32-year-old has lost four of his last six fights, including defeats to Edgar Berlanga, Erik Bazinyan, and Meiirim Nursultanov. In November 2019, Coceres challenged then-WBO world super middleweight titleholder Billy Joe Saunders, losing by knockout in the 11th round.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]