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Raymond Ford wins featherweight title with 12th-round miracle TKO

Raymond ‘Savage’ Ford (15-0-1, 8 KOs) captured the WBA featherweight world title with a dramatic, come-from-behind 12th-round TKO win against Uzbek phenom Otabek Kholmatov (12-1, 11 KOs).

Trailing on two of three scorecards, Ford dug deep to secure his first world title in the final round, as Kholmatov was ahead with two scores of 106-103, while one judge had it 105-104 for the native of Camden, New Jersey.

Kholmatov started off strong, pressuring and hurting Ford with a left hand in the second round. Ford then began to change the dynamic by pressuring the power puncher, using his high guard to stand in front of Kholmatov to land his offence.

By the seventh round, both men were going toe-to-toe in the center of the ring. Kholmatov fought on the outside in the later rounds, but he was hurt by Ford in the final stanza. Ford quickly capitalized and landed a flurry. Referee Charlie Fitch waved off the contest at 2:53 as Kholmatov staggered into the ropes.

Ford said, “My coach told me to bring that dog out. We knew we were coming into their territory. This wasn’t under our promotion. But we had to dig deep. The whole time in the corner, I kept telling myself, ‘I’m going to stop him.’ I felt him breaking down as the rounds went on.

“I started off a little slow. I felt I didn’t really have the energy and the legs to be the sharper boxer I know I can be. That was due to a tough weight cut. So, this may be my last fight at 126. Then, we’ll go up to 130 and call out the champions there.

“I knew I had to stop him. The rounds were too close. I just had to bring that dog out that my coaches were talking about. I always knew I had it in me. I come from a rough background. There’s nothing that can stop me. Ever.”

Venado crushes Abe in round eight 

Luis Alberto “Venado” Lopez (30-2, 17 KOs) successfully defended his IBF featherweight crown with an eighth-round TKO win over Japanese contender Reiya Abe (25-4-1, 10 KOs).

Abe struggled with Lopez’s offense as the Mexican warrior launched forward with power shots from odd angles.

A left hand from Lopez caused Abe’s right eye to swell. The ringside physician allowed him to continue, as Lopez continued to march forward.

In the eighth round, inspired by the cheers from the crowd, Lopez initiated a flurry of quick strikes, which forced referee Mark Nelson to halt the action at :39.

Lopez said, “I turned and looked at my family, my baby, my wife and my mom and dad, and that was the key to my motivation. I knew I had to finish the fight.

“Abe was a warrior. He was able to continue with his eye shut. He continued fighting with a lot of heart. We know that Japanese fighters have a lot of heart. But I also have a lot of hunger to continue being a world champion, and I had to show that.

“Like I have been saying, it would be great for me to unify. But I would also like to have a fight at 130 pounds. If they put me in against the winner of Oscar Valdez and Liam Wilson, that would be stupendous.”

Welterweight:

Brian Norman Jr. (25-0, 19 KOs) and Janelson Bocachica (17-2-1, 11 KOs) fought to a no decision.

Bocachica suffered a cut in the opening round. He landed a chopping counter right hand in the final seconds that dropped Norman, who himself was cut above his right eye in the second stanza. By round three, Bocachica’s cut prompted the referee to stop the fight at the end of the round.

Junior Welterweight:

Hometown hero Bryce Mills (15-1, 5 KOs) defeated Gerffred Ngayot (6-2, 5 KOs) via six-round unanimous decision.

An aggressive Mills fought at a high pace, which Ngayot had trouble keeping up with. Mills slowed down in the final two rounds, but landed more on a defensively-minded Ngayot.

Scores: 58-57 and 60-54 2x.

Middleweight:

U.S. Olympian Troy Isley (12-0, 5 KOs) made a statement in his second fight with new trainer Brian ‘BoMac’ McIntyre.

Isley delivered a seventh-round TKO over Marcos Hernandez (16-7-2, 3 KOs).

Isley battled rhythmically throughout the fight, easily mixing in offence and defence, before landing a right hand that dropped Hernandez and forced referee Mark Nelson to stop the fight at 1:30.

Bantamweight: 

Floyd Diaz (11-0, 3 KOs) tallied a unanimous points win against Puerto Rican veteran Edwin Rodriguez (12-8-2, 5 KOs).

Diaz landed his counter right uppercut frequently on a game Rodriguez, whose spirited effort was subdued by Diaz’s sharper counters.

Scores: 78-74, 79-73 and 80-72.

Junior Welterweight: 

Dominican Olympian Rohan Polanco (12-0, 7 KOs) handed Tarik Zaina (13-1-1, 8 KOs) his first loss tonight, battering him from post to post en route to an eight-round unanimous decision.

Zaina was crafty on the outside, but Polanco overwhelmed him with constant pressure and counterpunching, dropping him and nearly finishing the job in the final round. Scores: 78-72 and 79-71 2x.

Middleweight:

Nico Ali Walsh (10-1, 5 KOs) defeated Charles Stanford (7-6, 4 KOs) via six-round unanimous decision. Scores: 59-55 and 60-54 2x. It marked the second straight win for the grandson of “The Greatest,” who suffered his lone defeat last August.

Heavyweight:

Brandon Moore (14-0, 8 KOs) remained unbeaten with a hard-earned unanimous points verdict against Helaman Olguin (9-7-1, 4 KOs).

Scores: 80-72 3x.

Credit: Top Rank Boxing 

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