It took Abel Ramos a couple rounds to figure out Omar Figueroa Jr.'s unique, unorthodox style on Saturday -- but once he did, the welterweight bout was never close.
Ramos (27-4-2, 21 KOs) earned a TKO finish over Figueroa (28-2-1, 19 KOs) in the sixth round, after Figueroa couldn't answer the bell for the seventh round after spitting blood in his corner. The welterweight bout took place on the Andy Ruiz-Chris Arreola pay-per-view at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Figueroa, 31, of Weslaco, Texas, relied on a highly unorthodox, high-pressure style that saw him use constant feints and defensive hand placement to work to the inside. Ramos, 32, of Casa Grande, Arizona, looked sightly uncomfortable with the style at first, but had Figueroa more or less figured out by the third round. Even when Figueroa was having some success in throwing Ramos off, the style did not lend itself to effective offense. And once Ramos figured out the timing and rhythm of what Figueroa was doing, he was an easy target on the outside for Ramos to pick apart.
It was a good night for the Ramos family, as Abel's 20-year-old nephew, Jesus, also picked up a win on the pay-per-view main card. As impressive as Jesus' performance was -- a decision over veteran Javier Molina -- Abel Ramos' arguably stood out more. His body work was especially devastating and led to the finish. He also caused a lot of swelling under Figueroa's left eye.
"Omar is a very tricky fighter. He has an awkward defense and it was hard to catch him clean at first, but the fight overall went as planned," Ramos said after the fight. "I trained so hard for this fight. I knew my career was on the line. I knew I needed a win and I knew Omar would bring a good fight. I'm glad to be back on the winning side and I'm ready to take on the best of the division.
"We trained to attack the body. Our plan from the beginning was to pressure him. We wanted to score points to the body. I could hear him groaning, and I knew once I hurt him bad that the fight was over."
It's a nice win for Ramos, who came up short in a WBA welterweight title fight against Yordenis Ugas in his most recent performance in September 2020. After going on an 11-year stretch without a single loss, Figueroa has now dropped two in a row. He also lost to Ugas in his previous bout, in July 2019.
Fundora stops Cota in Round 4 to stay unbeaten
Sebastian Fundora, the tallest super welterweight contender in boxing, didn't use a single inch of his height advantage against Jorge Cota on Saturday, and it didn't matter whatsoever. Fundora (17-0-1, 12 KOs), who is 6-foot-6 and known as "The Towering Inferno," elected to fight the 5-foot-11 Cota (30-5, 27 KOs) in a phone booth. It was a curious strategy for Fundora, given his obvious advantages, but it was an effective one. He wore Cota down, beat him with uppercuts and short punches and earned a TKO at 2:35 of the fourth round.
The timing of the stoppage was a bit controversial, as Cota, who was never knocked down in the fight, actually landed a hard left hook just as the referee waved it off. That one punch wasn't enough to keep the fight going, however, as Fundora had turned Cota into an easy target at that point, off balance along the ropes. The California crowd loved the action while it lasted, and booed the stoppage.
Cota, 33, of Sinaloa, Mexico, briefly contested the referee's call, but was visibly hurt after the fight was called. Fundora, 23, of Coachella, California, opens up his 2021 with a stoppage win after going 3-0 in 2020.
"It was a good trading fight. We were hitting each other, but my punches were doing more damage, and that's why the referee stepped in," Fundora said after the fight. "I think he could have been stopped earlier in the round. I just kept fighting until the end.
"My message to the rest of the division is that we're here. If you're ready for war, we're ready to take it. Bring it on."
Ramos takes step forward with dominant decision win
Jesus Ramos wants to win a world title before his 21st birthday next March -- and he took another step toward that goal on Saturday. Ramos (16-0, 14 KOs), of Casa Grande, Arizona, defeated former Olympian Javier Molina (22-4, 9 KOs), 31, of Norwalk, California, in a 10-round decision, in which Ramos was in command the entire way.
Scorecards reflected the lopsided welterweight action, as Ramos won via scores of 99-90, 99-90 and 97-92. While Molina clearly lost on the cards, he challenged the 20-year-old Ramos in ways he never had been previously. Ramos fought past the sixth round for the first time in his pro career, and was forced to make adjustments as the fight progressed. But Ramos' size, length and physicality made for a daunting task for Molina, who fought cautiously and was slightly timid early. Ramos stalked Molina around the ring from the very opening bell, and that continued throughout all 10 rounds.
Molina mostly gave ground during the first half of the fight, before coming back at Ramos with forward movement and combinations. By then, however, Molina was too far behind, and his power never seemed to bother Ramos at all. The matchup turned very physical in the seventh, as Ramos pushed and bullied Molina into the ropes. Molina was actually docked a point later in the round for throwing a punch to the back of the head, which Ramos also received a warning for.
"I might have been looking for a knockout too much in the early rounds," Ramos said in his postfight interview. "I got used to it and I settled down and I felt like I was breaking him down little by little. He was trying to survive a little bit, so it made it harder to get the knockout.
"I learned a lot today. I'm going to keep building on that. I feel like I have a lot of momentum. It was a big step up for me, and I feel like I showed a lot. I showed I have good conditioning and good movement along with my power.
Overall, it was a promising step for Ramos, who is already 2-0 in 2021. Molina suffers back-to-back defeats for the first time in his career.
Lara wins middleweight title with must-see KO over Lamanna
The question of whether New Jersey's Thomas Lamanna could hang with Erislandy Lara did not take long to answer.
Lara (28-3, 16 KOs), 38, of Cuba, obliterated Lamanna with a straight left hand just 80 seconds into their WBA "regular" middleweight title fight.
Lara has competed at a world-class level for years but is not known for one-punch power. You wouldn't have known that from this result, however, as it was as clean of a knockout as he's ever had in his career.
Lamanna (30-5-1, 12 KOs), 29, of Millville, New Jersey, was seeking his first major title in the bout. Although the fight didn't even last a full round, it was apparent early on he was not on Lara's level. Prior to the highlight knockout, Lara landed straight lefts to the body and head of Lamanna, before coming over the top with the walk-off shot.
"I felt strong and sharp tonight at middleweight, but I still want all of the big fights at 154 pounds too," Lara said after the fight. "I want the winner of the Jermell Charlo-Brian Carlos Castano unification fight. Jermall Charlo [the WBC middleweight titlist] is like family; we worked in the same gym for years. But this is a sport, and I'd welcome the challenge.
"I feel great, physically. I'm going to keep doing this until my body tells me I can't do it anymore. I don't feel like I've taken a lot of punishment in my career, and I know I have at least another three years of my prime left."
A former junior lightweight champion, Lara becomes a two-weight champion with the victory.
Ramirez wins interim title with KO victory over Avelar
Eduardo Ramirez knocked out Isaac Avelar with a blistering right hook at 1:16 of the third round, winning the WBA interim featherweight title. It marks the third knockout in a row for the surging, 28-year-old Ramirez.
Ramirez (25-2-3, 12 KOs), 28, of Sinaloa, Mexico, who is now 5-1 since unsuccessfully challenging Lee Selby for the IBF featherweight title in 2017, knocked Avelar down with a right hook less than one minute into the third round. Avelar managed to continue but not for long, as he was still visibly hurt from the shot. Ramirez rocked him with another right hook against the ropes, and the fight was stopped.
It was a devastating finish to what had been a competitive fight to that point. Ramirez hurt Avelar with the right hook late in the opening round as well, but that didn't stop Avelar from looking to apply pressure throughout the bout. Ramirez's speedy right hook and jab, however, were the two best weapons of the night.
"You have to have a stone-cold mindset, and that's what we had to finish Avelar off," Ramirez said. "We were able to connect the right combinations to finish the fight off exactly how we wanted.
"This was a perfect coronation. To be honest, I would now like to have the chance to fight against Leo Santa Cruz. I previously fought against Miguel Flores, who barely lasted four to five rounds against me, but Leo couldn't knock him out. This convincing knockout should be my ticket to have that opportunity."
Ramirez fought only once in 2020, but he recorded a knockout over Flores in that appearance.
Avelar (17-3, 10 KOs), 23, of Aguascalientes, Mexico, has lost three of his past four and been knocked out in two of those fights.
Molina outpoints Marquez for decision win
Lightweight prospect Fernando Angel Molina took advantage of an opportunity to fight on network television by defeating Prisco Marquez by unanimous decision in a six-round bout.
Molina (6-0, 3 KOs), an 18-year-old talent out of Jalisco, Mexico, was paired with Marquez (4-3-1, 1 KO), 27, of Austin, Texas, in the evening's swing bout, which ended up airing on Fox ahead of the pay-per-view, due to a couple of quick finishes on the undercard. Molina was more or less in control the entire fight, and he cruised to three 60-53 scores from the judges.
According to CompuBox, Molina landed more than 100 punches in the bout, more than doubling Marquez's total. Molina, who enjoyed a significant height and reach advantage, showed off his versatility on offense, mixing right uppercuts and body shots into his combinations. He fought well on the outside and pushed Marquez backward in the later rounds.
Marquez showed grit, especially early, as he waded through Molina's length and leapt into looping haymakers over the top. He caught Molina on several occasions with the left hook, but the home run shot never came. The bout was Marquez's first appearance since September 2019.