By Mike McMahon
---- — SALEM – The result was never in doubt.
Lawrence heavyweight Alexis Santos dominated veteran Marlon Hayes from start to finish, sending him to the mat for a final time just 1:14 into the fourth round with a flurry of rights and lefts before the referee put an end to the fight, moving Santos to 10-0 with nine knockouts in his young and promising career.
In his closest fight to his hometown since turning pro, Santos was greeted with a crowd reaction that made the building rumble. When he dropped Hayes in the fourth round, the roof nearly blew off the joint.
“I couldn’t hear anything but the people chanting, it was the best feeling,” Santos said.
A hulking figure, Santos was against a fighter in Hayes who seemed more interested in boxing with his mouth than his fists. Hayes could be seen not only chirping at Santos — a big mistake given the result — but also egging on his hometown fans. He incessantly waved his hands, pointing at the back of his head and complaining to the official about what he perceived as illegal shots.
“He kept grabbing on to me,” Santos said. “I think he knew what he was doing, he’s a veteran fighter and he was trying to take me off my game but I just needed to stay focused.”
When Santos stepped between the ropes, it was the first time he was able to even get a glimpse at his opponent. Hayes skipped Thursdays weigh-ins.
“I didn’t look at any film and (yesterday) was the first time I even saw him,” Santos said.
“I was always more worried about what I had to do. We talked going in about just sticking to the game plan and fighting the way we wanted to fight, so that’s all I was focused on. It didn’t matter who it was, we had a game plan.”
Hayes entered the fight with a more-than-respectable 23-11 record. But the 42-year-old from New Jersey could do little to stop a savage attack from Santos, whose booming punches violently snapped Hayes’ head to the side, throwing the sweat off his brow.
“I couldn’t be happier with the result,” Santos said.
“This is the best feeling. It was hot in there, with the lights and everything, and to know that those people sat in there all night to watch me, and to give them a fight like that, feels great.”
Santos will likely fight next Aug. 24 at the Sportszone in Derry, according to his camp.
In the co-main event of the evening, junior lightweight Ryan Kielczewski of Quincy remained undefeated (17-0), knocking out Miguel Soto (11-1) with a straight right hand as the fifth round was coming to a close; in his 17 wins, it’s just the fourth time Kielczewski has knocked out an opponent.
“He started winging punches so I hit him with an upper cut to the body,” Kielczewski said.
“In the last round I hit him with a right hand over the eye and started setting up right upper cuts to the body. I told him I was going to go up top with the next one and he fell for it, he left his chin wide open and I came right up the middle.”