ESPN results: Vasyl Lomachenko TKO 7 Miguel Marriaga
Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko successfully defended his WBO junior lightweight title a third time Saturday night after forcing Miguel Marriaga’s corner to pull the plug before the eighth round began. The fight was the main event of a Top Rank card televised live on ESPN.
It was fitting that the showcase of Lomachenko’s talent was put on a stage at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California, because the Ukrainian boxing phenom put on a show and proved, even to the novice onlooker, that he’s playing at a different speed. Lomachenko, 9-1 (8), didn’t seem to mind the counter right uppercuts from Marriaga that buzzed by his chin ever so closely, early in the fight. They seldom came, thanks to Lomachenko’s constant pressure anyway, but, after two rounds, the Colombian contender seemed to be all in. All that changed, starting in the third round.
There, Marriaga, 25-3 (21), drummed up enough confidence to taunt Lomachenko, after an exchange, and all it did was spur on the two-time Olympic gold medalist. Lomachenko returned a taunt of his own and dropped Marriaga with a left hand seconds later. Marriaga seemed to be OK from the shot that clipped his chin and, once action resumed, Lomachenko embedded himself in a corner, egging on the challenger to punch him. The mockeries didn’t stop there either as the tide continued to turn on Marriaga the rest of the way.
Whether they were the gentle taps on Marriaga’s head or a spoof of his guard, Lomachenko showed he was playing with his opponent but not without unleashing absurd combinations that sometimes rendered the crowd silent. Everything they may have heard Lomachenko possess – the hand speed, the footwork, the offensive creativity – was on full display. That said, Lomachenko didn’t make it through unscathed, after suffering a cut above his left eye and a mark under his right. Lomachenko seemed to step on the gas, once he realized he was leaking in the fourth round, but he never lost composure, as he forced Marriaga into survival mode: trying to circle the ring nonstop.
After a rough sixth round, Marriaga looking worn out and overwhelmed. More of the same happened in the seventh and, in its waning seconds, Lomachenko scored another knockdown with a left hand. Marriaga was saved by the bell once getting up but he would subsequently be saved by his corner once he returned to his stool.
This type of stoppage win marks the third time in a row Lomachenko has either made a corner make that tough call or convinced another man that the fight should end between rounds. In an effort to gain more exposure on a stage like ESPN, Lomachenko gave new viewers a taste of what kind of exciting action he can present but it was a mere sample size of what can happen if – and when – someone else can test him.
Ray Beltran edged Bryan Vasquez via majority decision to keep his lightweight title hopes alive in the ESPN co-feature. After 10 rounds of action, one official judge at ringside scored the bout a draw, at 95-95, while the other two overruled it with identical scores of 96-94.
Beltran, 34-7-1 (21), admitted to ringside observers that he was surprised the judges had it so close but what transpired in the ring didn’t exactly deliver an overwhelming victory. Beltran had trouble with Vasquez’s movement and this created a fight that was starved for action, at times. There were some heated exchanges in the fourth and none really seemed to establish control, once the dust settled. An accidental headbutt added blood to the fight, in the ninth, thanks to a cut on Beltran, but the lasting moment of the fight came in the final seconds of the 10th. Vasquez, 35-3 (19), landed a big right hand on Beltran and the Mexican reacted by leaning back against the ropes with his hands down. It was the most memorable punch of the fight and Beltran seemed out on his feet as the bell rang. He stumbled to his corner has Vasquez was alert enough to celebrate and climb one of his cornerman’s shoulders. No matter what Beltran may have thought after the fight, he was given something everyone no one could forget at the end.
In the opening bout of the ESPN telecast, Arnold Barboza Jr. scored a unanimous decision (76-74, 77-73, 78-72) win over Jonathan Chicas after a tremendous eight-rounder, in which both men tasted the canvas.
Barboza, 17-0 (6), a welterweight prospect out of Los Angeles, got the better of Chicas early on but, once scoring a knockdown in the third, the 25-year-old drew first blood in a dramatic fight. Barboza threw a perfect left hand to Chicas’ chin and it sprawled him out on the canvas as if he were knocked out. Slowly he got up, looking as hurt as anyone would be, but Chicas finished the round well, all things considered, and turned the fight into a war with brutal exchanges. The crowd really got into it then, with both laying it on the line but that was only the beginning. In the sixth, Chicas, 15-3 (7), landed an overhand right that dropped Barboza to the mat. He didn’t seem as hurt as Chicas was two rounds earlier but the tide had completely shifted the other way. Sustained action continued through to the final bell and it was certainly the best fight on the card by night’s end.
Maxim Dadashev scored a stoppage win over Jose Marrufo after referee Zac Young waved off the contest in the eighth and final round of a junior welterweight contest. Dadashev, 8-0 (7), found himself in a fight early on, as his opponent came out of the gate with the intent to pull off the upset. Fighting out of Phoenix, Arizona, Marrufo, 10-7-2, lunged in with overhand rights that, when connected, kept Dadashev in front of him to exchange. The second round, in particular, was a barnburner but Dadashev started to separate himself and find a comfortable distance by the fourth round thanks to his sticking jab. The tide had been turned on Marrufo by the eighth but Young decided to end the contest with him on his feet. He was getting touched up a bit by Dadashev but the moral victory of finishing the fight was taken from him.
Brazilian middleweight prospect Esquiva Falcao outboxed Norberto Gonzalez for eight rounds, en route to a shutout unanimous decision victory. All three judges scored it 80-72 for Falcao, 18-0 (12), who patiently jabbed his way into his opponent’s wheelhouse early on to eventually walk him down by fight’s end. A silver medalist in the 2012 London Olympics, the southpaw showed great poise, and proved it will be tough for anyone to land a flesh shot on him. Gonzalez, 23-10 (13), showed his toughness but that wasn’t going to get him a win.
Former U.S. Olympian Mikaela Mayer won her professional debut, within its first two minutes, by crumbling Widnelly Figueroa with right hands and forcing referee Dr. Lou Moret to wave it off in the first round. Mayer, 1-0 (1), had a technically sound approach and, once she exploited the body, Figueroa, 0-2, was easy to pick off until she voluntarily went to a knee for the fight’s only knockdown and final moment.
Erick De Leon got the unanimous decision (60-54 twice, 59-55) over Adones Aguelo after six rounds of lightweight action. The Mexican prospect out of Detroit, Michigan, showed good speed with his combinations from the southpaw stance and ultimately overwhelmed his Filipino counterpart. That said, Aguelo, 28-16-2 (19), took De Leon’s power well enough to get into heated exchanges.
Coming off the heels of “Shark Week,” lightweight prospect Andy “El Tiburon” Vences scored a third round knockout of Eliseo Cruz Sesma to remain undefeated. Vences, 19-0 (11), was sharp with his combination punching and was able to swarm his prey from either stance. Sesma, 11-4-1 (7), was dropped hard with a right hand in the second round and managed to somehow survive into the fourth. Another right hand to the Mexican’s chin flailed his body to the canvas in the third, and referee Zac Young waved it off immediately, seeing how shaken he was.
In the opening bout of the Top Rank card, junior middleweight Artemio Reyes ended a back-and-forth scrap with a left hand to the liver of Steve Marquez in the fourth round. Marquez, 16-19-2 (10), spat his mouthpiece out immediately after his delayed reaction to the shot, and fell to his knees while being counted out. Fighting out of Riverside, California, Reyes, 25-2 (20), has KO’d eight of his last 10 opponents.