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  Jose Ramirez Defeats Amir Imam;
Grabs Vacant WBC Super Lightweight Strap


By Luis "The Beast" Cadiz
Photos: "Sugar" Ray Bailey

 

On many levels this boxing event promised to be a special and memorable one, at least for me personally. On paper you have the main event pitting the undefeated Jose Ramirez (21-0, 16KO) against Amir “Young Master” Imam (21-1, 18KO) and a co-feature bout where Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk (14-0, 12KO) will look to hammer out a win over Mehdi Amar (34-5-2, 16KO).

Plus three young talents of my adopted homeland of Puerto Rico will look to improve their records and careers with impressive wins on the undercard. Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz (22-0, 14KO) will look to continue undefeated and on course to a world title in the Super Featherweight division. Jose “Sniper” Pedraza (22-1, 12KO) is looking to bounce back from losing both his I.B.F. Super Featherweight world title and undefeated record, in his last title defense over one year ago to Gervonta Davis, and get back to world title contingency form. Finally Felix “El Diamante” Verdejo (23-0, 15KO), a one time “Hot Prospect” on the rise, will look to recover lost luster from his own personal hurricanes and get back to the privileged position he once held.

Hurricane Maria may have hit the island, but Verdejo’s first hurricane gust of wind came in the form of an accident he suffered on a motorcycle, jeopardizing both his health and career. To add insult to injury, he allegedly continued to use the motorcycle, not heeding advice from family, friends and members of his team to avoid potentially dangerous activities.

The whirlwind continued when in his fight back from recuperation he fought Oliver Flores (27-3-2, 17KO) and though Verdejo walked away with a unanimous decision win, the southpaw Flores chipped away at “El Diamante”, making him look vulnerable at times. This will all take place in New York City, my birthplace, at Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of Boxing. I will cover the rise of three of Puerto Rico’s native sons on their quest to becoming world champions.

Memorable for me indeed.

Main Event: 12 Rounds
Vacant W.B.C. Super Lightweight World Championship
Jose Ramirez (21-0, 16 KOs) Vs. Amir “Young Master” Imam (21-1, 18 KOs)

 

Tense 1st round between Amir Imam and Jose Ramirez, Imam sneaking in a short uppercut on the inside while Jose responded with a hard right moments later. Imam’s defensive bobbing and weaving and constant twitching movements, met by Ramirez’s continued pressure made for interesting rounds two through four. The moments in this fight that Imam could maintain his jab, he complicated the bout for Ramirez by keeping him at bay. But once Ramirez would get his opponent within range, he would smother Imam, maneuver him to the ropes and tee off with bombs in rounds five and six.

Jose’s left hook proved effective as the “Young Master” Imam was visibly shaken and stirred in round seven. A slugfest ensued in round eight as both fighters threw caution to the wind and had vicious exchanges, Jose getting in his share of the action and more. It was then literal head to head action in the ninth round as the crowd roared. The systematic breakdown of the “Young Master” began in the championship rounds ten and eleven at the hands of the “Grand Master” trainer Freddie Roach’s pupil, Jose Ramirez.

Battered, bruised and bloodied, Imam finished on his feet but was badly rocked in the twelfth and final round. With a Unanimous Decision win, Jose Ramirez won the vacant W.B.C. Super Lightweight world championship title and preserved his undefeated record, moving up to 22-0 with 16KOs.

Co - Feature Event: 12 Rounds
Interim W.B.C. Light Heavyweight World Championship
Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk (14-0, 12 KOs) Vs. Mehdi Amar (34-5-2, 16 KOs)

 

The feel of this fight was that Mehdi Amar wouldn’t last long and that Oleksandr Gvozdyk would be steamrolling the Frenchman sooner than later. Well, for the first three rounds Mehdi was aggressive, gave Oleksandr angles, applied pressure and had decided not to be easy pickings for his Ukrainian foe.

But in the fourth round “The Nail” Gvozdyk began combining his punches better and had Mehdi up against the ropes more often. Rounds five and six had Oleksandr picking his spots which created a slight lull in the action. Then in the seventh round there were some violent exchanges where Mehdi proved to have a solid chin and that he can take a punch. During the eighth and ninth rounds Gvozdyk used distance to connect and build up his lead, then move avoiding Mehdi rushing him.

The championship rounds ten and eleven had good see saw action, with “The Nail” getting the better of the exchanges. The twelfth and final round had both the Ukrainian and Frenchman hurting each other as Gvozdyk had Mehdi stumbling with a right to the head but moments later the Frenchman responded with a left hook that stunned Gvozdyk.

In the end, Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk won a Unanimous Decision and filled the W.B.C. Interim Light Heavyweight world championship title and held on to his undefeated record improving to 15-0 with 12 KOs.

Undercard Results:

10 Rounds - Lightweight
Felix “El Diamante” Verdejo (23-0, 15 KOs) Vs. Antonio Lozada Jr. (38-2, 32 KOs)

 

This was supposed to have been a “good” comeback fight for Verdejo, on paper. Call it ring rust if you will, the first two rounds were pretty much back and forth action and it wasn’t until the third round that Felix Verdejo began to better combine his punches. Antonio Lozada Jr., sensing Verdejo could be getting into a rhythm, began applying more pressure to the Puerto Rican in the fourth.

A straight right from the Mexican wobbled Verdejo in the fifth and the punishment continued in the sixth round as well. Verdejo would land an occasional shot in the seventh round to throw Lozada Jr. off track. Great back and forth action in rounds eight and nine but in the tenth round, the continued pressure and punishment from the Mexican would prove to be too much for Verdejo.

A battered Verdejo would hit the canvas, Hurricane Antonio had wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico’s native son. Both the ref and doctor call a halt to the hostilities at 2min:37sec of the tenth and final round. At the moment the fight was stopped, Verdejo was ahead by a slight margin on two of three cards. Antonio Lozada Jr. more than just improved his record to 39-2 with 33KOs, he blemished his foe’s undefeated record with its first loss and stripped some of the luster off of “El Diamante” Verdejo’s boxing career, which now reads, 23-1 with 15KOs.

10 Rounds - Super Featherweight
North American Boxing Organization Title (N.A.B.O. Regional Title)
Christopher “El Pitufo” Díaz (22-0, 14 KOs) Vs. Braulio Rodriguez (19-2, 17 KOs)

 

Christopher “El Pitufo” Diaz improved to 23-0 with 15KOs with a TKO win in the fourth round. It seems that Braulio Rodriguez, now 19-3 with 17KOs, suffered an injury to his right arm and the bout was stopped at the :28sec mark of the fourth round. “El Pitufo”, which literally translates to “The Smurf” is singing “LA-LA-LA-LA” all the way to his first world title shot.

8 Rounds - Lightweight
Jose “Sniper” Pedraza (22-1, 12 KOs) Vs. Jose Luis Rodriguez (26-11-1, 14 KOs)

 

This was Jose “Sniper” Pedraza’s first fight at lightweight and his first fight in over a year. He’s coming off a loss where he lost both his I.B.F. Super Featherweight World Title and his undefeated record at the hands of fellow undefeated fighter Gervonta Davis.

I spoke with Pedraza after his fight and he stated that he used the time off to recoup and regroup his boxing career. He felt good in the fight against Jose Luis Rodriguez, who fell to 26-12-1, 14KOs, and understands that he will be ready now at lightweight for a future world title shot.

6 Rounds - Super Bantamweight
Jose Gonzalez (8-0-2, 2 KOs) Vs. Adan González (3-1-2, 2 KOs)

Fan friendly fight that was left as a swing bout. It was the last fight of the night so not many fans were present to witness the entertaining bout. Jose Gonzalez won a Unanimous Decision and improved to 9-0-2, 2KOs.

4 Rounds - Super Featherweight
Joseph Adorno (5-0, 5 KOs) Vs. Ivan Gil de LaMadrid (3-2, 0 KOs)

 

Fast work for Joseph Adorno as he improved 6-0 with 6KOs with a TKO Win in 2min:01sec of the very first round.

8 Rounds - Featherweight
Special St. Patrick Day Attraction
Michael Conlan (5-0, 4 KOs) Vs. David Berna (15-2, 14 KOs)

 

This bout wasn’t much of an attraction as Michael Conlan, from Belfast Ireland, destroyed David Berna, from Budapest Hungary within two rounds. Michael Conlan won by TKO as the ref stops the fight at 1min of the second round and all the Irish fans went wild.

Happy St. Patty’s Day!!!



 

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