Ghana's Maxwell Awuku failed in his attempt to win the WBC world super featherweight title from defending champion Miguel Berchelt on Saturday night.
Awuku was dropped twice and stopped in the third round of a scheduled 12-round fight at Plaza de Toros in Cancun, Mexico. The 26-year-old Berchelt (33-1, 29 KOs) made the second defense of the WBC 130-pound championship he won by knocking out fellow Mexican Francisco Vargas in the 11th round of their January 2017.
It was apparent almost immediately that the heavy-handed Berchelt would be too much for the left-handed Awuku (44-4-1, 30 KOs). Berchelt backed him up several times in the first round with hard right hands.
An aggressive Berchelt continued to press the action in the second round. Awuku tried to keep Berchelt honest by firing straight left hands and landed a right hook in the second round.
Awuku went after Berchelt in the third round as well, but Berchelt blasted him with a straight right hand to the chin that sent Awuku to the canvas with 1:13 to go in that round.
Awuku was able to get up, only to have Berchelt drill him with a hard jab that dropped Awuku again with 38 seconds remaining in the third round.
A game Awuku reached his feet again, but Berchelt hit him with several power punches that knocked him back into the ropes and forced the referee to stop the fight.
Awuku was a huge underdog against Berchelt, who made an optional title defense against him. Ghanaian had won his previous four fights, but against opponents that were a combined 36-53.