Super-bantamweight contender Shabaz Masoud was set to take a tough test on Saturday night, and fortunately for him, he narrowly passed the test as he successfully defended his WBA Intercontinental title by scoring a split decision victory over the veteran Colombian boxer Jose Sanmartin (34-8-1, 21 KOs).
(Photo credit: Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing)
The bout between Masoud and Sanmartin was originally set to take place on the Jack Catterall vs Jorge Linares undercard, but after the weigh-in, Masoud was forced to withdraw from the bout due to illness. The match was rescheduled for November 11th as it transitioned from an undercard fight to the headliner.
Coming into the bout, Jose Sanmartin was in desperate need of a win due to the fact that he had lost two of his last three fights.
Shabaz Masoud came into the bout in need of some action, as he had been inactive for a year. Masoud’s goal was to prove he was levels above his opponent, and Sanmartin wanted to win and take the WBA Intercontinental belt back to Colombia.
Starting the bout in the southpaw stance, Shabaz Masoud was active with the left hand. He consistently changed levels as he landed left-hand shots to the head and body of his opponent. Jose Sanmartin came out in the first round applying pressure, but he didn’t land anything significant.
In the second round, Sanmartin continued to press forward and apply pressure as he had success landing solid shots to the body. He kept Masoud boxing off the back foot, and he proceeded to close out the round by landing a flurry of shots. Sanmartin continued to press forward and use his bullying tactics in the third round.
Masoud did a better job of handling the pressure in the fourth round by utilizing his footwork and pivoting out of trouble instead of allowing Sanmartin to push him back into a corner. At the midway point of the round, Masoud landed a sharp left uppercut.
Sanmartin had a productive fifth round by focusing on landing shots to the body of his opponent. In the sixth round, Masoud did a better job of controlling distance, as he had space to throw and land some clean shots.
For the remainder of the bout, the judges witnessed the consistent pressure of Sanmartin versus the cleaner shots being landed by Masoud. In the end, one judge chose the pressure by scoring the bout 96-94 for Sanmartin, but that scorecard was overruled by the other two judges who scored the bout 98-92 and 96-94 in favor of Shabaz Masoud.
With the win, the WBA number six ranked contender Shabaz Masoud (12-0, 4 KOs) will continue his journey in his quest to win a world title. However, Masoud admits that he is his own worst critic, and his performance on Saturday night wasn’t good enough.
Masoud’s trainer, Ben Davison, agreed with his fighter in regards to the performance not being good enough. Back in June 2023, Shabaz Masoud inked a multi-fight promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing, and his new promoter, Eddie Hearn, was brutally honest in his assessment of Masoud’s performance.
“If we’re talking about Shabaz Masoud as a world championship contender, miles off the pace, miles off the pace tonight,” Hearn said. “We’re talking about a guy that looked like a British title, European title fighter, not someone that looked special enough to win a world title. We know he’s got the ability to do it, but tonight wasn’t good enough.”
Hearn felt like his fighter was lucky to get the win because the fight could have went either way. The Matchroom Boxing promoter expected to see Masoud hold his feet, punch harder, punch sharper, and break Sanmartin down.
Despite the fact that Eddie Hearn was disappointed in Masoud’s performance, Hearn did acknowledge the fact that he still believes in Masoud, and he wants him to come back stronger. Shabaz Masoud is a very talented fighter who was fortunate to stay undefeated after Saturday night’s fight.
During the post-fight interview, Masoud received intense criticism from both his trainer and promoter, but he handled it well. He is focused on getting back in the gym as soon as possible and continuing his quest to become a world champion.