It was arguably the strongest performance of his career as Neal was relentless coming after Luque with punches from the first exchange until the last. The finishing sequence saw Neal hurt Luque with a straight left followed by nine consecutive uppercuts until another punch came looping in that crumbled the top 10 ranked welterweight.
As Luque fell face first to the canvas, the referee quickly rushed in to call the fight with the end coming at 2:01 in the third round.
“I’ve been looking forward to fighting Luque or somebody like Luque,” Neal said. “He brought the dog out of me. I get a tendency to take off the second round. That’s just dumb. I came back in the third round and took him out.”
Known for his exciting style, Luque set a familiar tone but Neal was more than happy to meet him in the middle as the welterweights were both launching bombs. Neal connected with the first truly damaging shot after he blasted Luque with a straight left hand that wobbled the Brazilian.
Neal rushed ahead with a flurry of punches but when it was clear that Luque wasn’t going away, he backed out of the position so he wouldn’t drain his energy looking for a finish that wouldn’t come.
Late in the opening round, Neal unloaded another powerful left hand that put Luque on the ground but again he found a way back into the fight. Even with his face covered in blood and his legs feeling like rubber, Luque was still standing in the pocket trading shots with Neal.
Luque’s volume increased in the second round as he began thumping Neal with a series of kicks while constantly sticking boxing combinations in his face. While Neal wasn’t getting bombarded, his output wasn’t as prolific and that earned urging from his coaches to get more active.
When Neal starting letting his left hand go again, he made Luque pay for standing and trading with him as the same signature punch started finding a home again.
Another straight left had Luque stumbled and Neal just surged forward with punches in succession until he connected with the finishing blow. Afterwards, Neal wasted no time looking towards Luque’s friend and teammate as a potential opponent.
“Honestly, I’ve been looking at Gilbert Burns,” Neal said. “I want him next.”
In response, Burns seemed willing to answer the challenge assuming he doesn’t get his wish with a fight already requested against Jorge Masvidal.
“Finally someone called me out!” Burns wrote on Twitter. “About time! Congrats Geoff Neal. Let’s see if Jorge will show up. Otherwise, we might dance.”