Sunday, December 10th 2023

Upset City: Rafael Espinoza Dethrones Featherweight Champion Robeisy Ramirez

Xander Zayas KOs Jorge Fortea in Co-Feature

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. (Dec. 9, 2023) — Unbeaten Mexican Rafael Espinoza spent 10 years in the pro ranks before his first world title shot. And when the opportunity finally came, he made the most of it.
Espinoza (24-0, 20 KOs) captured the WBO featherweight world title with a majority decision win against two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez (13-2, 8 KOs) Saturday evening at Charles F. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Espinoza, enjoying significant height and reach advantages, kept Ramirez at bay with long-range punches to start the fight. Ramirez took a few rounds to find his distance, and at the end of round five, he landed a right hook that dropped Espinoza.
Ramirez appeared to regain control of the fight, hurting Espinoza again in the following rounds. But by round nine, Espinoza had recovered and began unleashing combinations with as much vigor as he did at the beginning of the fight.
Espinoza, sensing that he needed to close the show emphatically, overwhelmed an exhausted Ramirez and dropped him before the final bell.
One judge scored the fight 113-113, which was overruled by scores of 114-112 and 115-111 for Espinoza.
Espinoza said, “I didn’t think about anything in here. I just thought about winning. I even asked what round we were in. And I knew that I had to drop him in order to win. I just put my heart into it. I always do that. And thank God it happened.
“I think I’ve had a broken foot since the second round. But what kept me on my feet was my daughter, my parents, my wife and my family. I knew that all of Mexico was watching me. And I knew that I had to become a world champion.”
Ramirez said, “We did what we always do. We followed what Ismael Salas told us to do. We scored the knockdown and tried to end the fight, but it didn’t happen.
“I thought the fight was won. But he got his second wind. I tried to catch mine. But I’ve got to give him credit. He came after me. He got the knockdown. I didn’t think it would determine the result, but that’s what the judges decided.”

Xander Zayas KOs Jorge Fortea in 5

Puerto Rican sensation Xander Zayas (18-0, 12 KOs) defeated Spanish veteran Jorge Fortea (24-4-1, 9 KOs) via fifth-round TKO in tonight’s co-feature.

Zayas, who made his third ring appearance of 2023, sought to end the year with a bang, pushing Fortea to the ropes where he landed hard combinations.

The 21-year-old phenom landed a body shot on the inside that forced Fortea to take a knee in the first round. Fortea survived the round, but he spent the rest of the fight trying to avoid Zayas’ two-fisted assault. In the fifth, Zayas landed ended the fight with a body blow.

Zayas, “We knew that he likes to keep his elbows out. And it was just a matter of time after we got him in the first round. After that, he went into survival mode and brought his elbows down. But then we got him with another body shot.”

Featherweight: Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington (9-0, 6 KOs), the latest fistic prodigy from Brownsville, Brooklyn, delivered a second-round knockout against former world title challenger Jason Sanchez (16-5, 9 KOs). Early in the second round, Carrington landed a lead left hook that hurt Sanchez and followed up with a series of punches that eventually dropped him. Though Sanchez returned to his feet, Carrington continued his assault, landing another devastating left hook that prompted referee Luis Pabon to end the contest, marking Sanchez’s first stoppage defeat as a pro.

Carrington said, “This was a statement to the rest of the featherweight division. I want all the smoke. It doesn’t’ matter who it is.”

Heavyweight: U.S. Olympic silver medalist Richard Torrez Jr. (8-0, 8 KOs) overcame his toughest test to date by defeating veteran Curtis Harper (14-11, 9 KOs) via eighth-round TKO. The 24-year-old southpaw was aggressive from the start, but Harper took his best shots. Despite a cut above his left eye, Torrez upped his pace in the final round and retained his 100 percent KO ratio with a flurry that forced the referee stop the fight at 2:03 of the round.

Torrez said, “I knew I needed the rounds, and Curtis Harper was a tough, game opponent. This is an experience that will only help me as I progress.

“When I saw his mouthpiece fly out, I knew the knockout was coming. I’m happy I got the rounds in and a knockout.”

Junior Middleweight: Jahi Tucker (10-1-1, 5 KOs) and Francisco Daniel Veron (13-0-1, 10 KOs) battled to an eight-round majority draw. Eager to rebound from his first pro defeat, Tucker faced a tough challenge against the Argentine slugger, who frequently engaged him in a high-paced fight. Scores: 77-75 Tucker and 76-76 2x

Junior Welterweight: Dominican Olympian Rohan Polanco (11-0, 7 KOs) scored a sixth-round TKO win against Keith Hunter (15-2, 9 KOs). Hunter had a clear height and reach advantage, but Polanco nevertheless was able to easily walk him down and connect with power shots. Polanco pressed the attack in the sixth, forcing the referee to intervene at 2:56 of the round.

Junior Welterweight: U.S. Olympian Tiger Johnson (11-0, 5 KOs) tallied a split decision victory against Mexico’s Jimmer Espinosa (15-2, 14 KOs) after eight rounds of action. Johnson was quicker and sharper, though Espinosa had his moments, including an overhand right in the seventh round that stunned Johnson. Scores: 77-75 Espinosa, 79-73 and 78-74 Johnson.

Heavyweight: Undefeated Polish prospect Damian “Polish Hussar” Knyba (13-0, 7 KOs) notched an eight-round unanimous decision win against Michael Coffie (13-5, 10 KOs). Knyba, an 6-foot-7 behemoth with an 86-inch reach, controlled the bout with crisp punches from long range. Scores: 80-72 2x and 79-73.