Knockout winner Frank Sanchez wins Day of Reckoning opener after tedious show with Junior Fa

When the curtain was raised on the huge Day of Reckoning show in Saudi Arabia, it was the hand of Cuba’s Frank Sanchez’s that was raised in victory.

He drilled New Zealander Junior Fa to the canvas three times, scoring a stunning finish after a somewhat listless display.

The hot heavyweight prospect, dubbed The Cuban Flash, started well, edging an opening round with a solid jab here and there and looking for a big right hand over the top.

But neither were in a hurry to commit. Fa was patient and alert. He was busier of the two in the second and managed to stay out of harm’s way.

The Kingdom Arena in Riyadh was quiet, nowhere near the 8,000 capacity, but those not in the venue were not missing much. Fa took a good left to the body in the third, and Sanchez landed with several shots from a combination with about a minute left in the session.

It was quiet, but that suited Fa better. Still, the Eddy Reynoso 31-year-old trained prospect Sanchez, now 24-0 (17 KOs), always posed the greater threat.

The hulking Cuban, who would go from carrying his hands low to having a higher, cross-armed defence, momentarily turned southpaw in the foruth.

But for a bill where we were told the boxers would want to make an impression, Sanchez was not busy or destructive enough to excite or capture the imagination.

Fa’s trainer left his mobile phone on the ring apron before the start of the fifth. That was the highlight of a tedious round. Sanchez’s quick counters earned him round five, but Fa – whose nose trickled with blood – had survived, so both seemed content.

Fa, now 20-3 (11 KOs), landed a solid long right in the sixth that caused Sanchez to claim him, but with seconds remaining in the round Sanchez flew forward with a stunning right hand of his own and Fa was down heavily and hurt badly.

Fa was on all fours when the bell sounded to end the round.

“He’s going to come at you now,” Fa was warned in the corner.

Less than a minute into the seventh, Fa was nailed by another right and down again and the New Zealander was in real trouble, fully in survival mode, and Sanchez looked to close the show. A left and another right put Fa down for a third time, and although the plucky challenger made it back to his feet, referee Kevin Graham waved it off.

There were some highlight reel shots in an otherwise tepid display. But Sanchez is a problem, still unbeaten and he could land a big fight in 2024.

Time of the stoppage was 2-42 of the seventh. It had been set for 10 rounds.