The fight kicks off with Rafael Espinoza using his height and reach, keeping Ramirez at arm’s length with some sharp long-range punches. Ramirez, though, he’s no mug, and it takes him a few rounds to suss out the distance. End of the fifth, he lands a belter of a right hook, sending Espinoza to the canvas.
Ramirez seems to be getting back in the driving seat, giving Espinoza a bit of bother in the next few rounds. But come round nine, Espinoza’s back in the game, chucking combinations like it’s the start of the fight. He knows he’s got to pull something special out of the bag, and he does just that, overwhelming Ramirez and flooring him before the final bell.
The judges? Well, one reckons it’s 113-113, but the other two are singing a different tune – 114-112 and 115-111 in Espinoza’s favor.
Espinoza’s over the moon, talking about not thinking about anything but winning. Says he didn’t even know what round they were in and knew he had to floor Ramirez to win. Reckons he’s been fighting with a broken foot since the second round but kept on for his daughter, his parents, his wife, his family, and all of Mexico watching.
Ramirez, on the flip side, says they did what they always do, following coach Ismael Salas’ game plan. He thought he had the fight in the bag but gives credit to Espinoza for coming back strong and getting that knockdown.
Then there’s Xander Zayas, that Puerto Rican firecracker, taking out Jorge Fortea, the Spanish veteran, with a fifth-round TKO. Zayas has been on fire, making this his third fight in 2023, and he’s not messing about. He corners Fortea, pelting him with a barrage of punches.
Zayas drops Fortea in the first with a body shot, but Fortea hangs in there. It’s a cat-and-mouse game till the fifth, when Zayas lands another body blow that ends it all. Zayas says they knew Fortea kept his elbows out, and it was just a matter of time.
In the featherweight division, Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington from Brownsville, Brooklyn, is showing what he’s made of. He wipes the floor with Jason Sanchez, a former world title challenger, with a second-round knockout. Carrington lands this cracker of a left hook early in the second, sending Sanchez to the canvas. Though Sanchez gets up, Carrington’s relentless, landing another fierce left that makes the ref, Luis Pabon, call it a day. This is Sanchez’s first stoppage defeat as a pro.
Carrington’s buzzing, saying it’s a message to the featherweight division – he’s ready for anyone.
Then there’s the heavyweight bout with Richard Torrez Jr., the U.S. Olympic silver medallist, going up against Curtis Harper. Torrez, a southpaw with a 100 percent KO record, faces his toughest test yet. Despite a cut above his left eye, he keeps up the pace and floors Harper in the eighth, making the ref stop the fight at 2:03 of the round.
Torrez talks about needing the rounds and how Harper’s a tough opponent. He knew the knockout was coming when he saw Harper’s mouthpiece fly out. He’s chuffed about getting the rounds in and the knockout.