From the weigh-in on Friday to the action in the ring on Saturday, the animosity between Erislandy Lara and Vanes Martirosyan was visible. On Friday, the two did plenty of jawing at each other after weighing in for the bout with Lara capping it all off with a light one-handed shove to Martirosyan. This type of thing can create a compelling and even classic boxing match, but these two didn't even get the chance to finish their bout and a rematch is likely.
The bout was stopped less than 30 seconds into round nine when a collision of heads caused a very bad cut above Martirosyan's left eye. As Martirosyan walked to the ringside doctor he could be heard saying, “I can't see.” In the fight game, those are the magic words for any ringside doctor to stop a bout, and that's exactly what happened here.
The bout was stopped and because it was stopped due to an accidental collision of heads, they went to the scorecards to determine a winner. Sadly, this didn't solve the matter as Richard Ocasio scored the bout 87-84 for Lara, Jerry Roth scored it 86-85 for Martirosyan, and Dave Moretti scored it an 86-86 draw forcing the bout to be declared a draw by technical decision.
The bout was an intriguing one from the beginning as both fighters seemed determined to beat the other in a way that can sometimes supersede strategy and common sense in the ring. They weren't slugging it out wildly, but they also weren't always playing by the rules either. Lara was warned about a low-blow in round four and was warned more than once after wrapping Martirosyan's head almost in a guillotine choke when the two would clinch. Martirosyan, not to be outdone, was warned a few times about punching Lara as they broke from a clinch.
Lara's left was what eventually turned the tide in a fight that Martirosyan seemed to have in hand early on. Martirosyan was the more aggressive puncher and more willing to throw combinations as Lara seemed to go with a one punch at a time kind of approach early on. Lara was landing with his left a bit in round two, but in round seven he found his touch and began really landing with his left hand. It wasn't any specific left-handed punch from Lara that was landing, but an assortment of them, mainly his left hook and straight left.
At the time of the stoppage, the bout was swinging in Lara's favor and with the scorecards being what they were, it's really anyone's guess at to how it would've panned out had the bout gone the full twelve rounds, or if it would've even gone the full twelve. As mentioned above, a rematch between the two is likely not only because of the circumstances with which the bout ended, but also because there literally wasn't a winner. And deservedly so as neither fighter seemed that much better than the other or distanced themselves from the other during the bout. This one was a deserving and legitimate draw.
The other bout on the HBO broadcast featured the U.S. debut of Jonathan Barros. Unfortunately, Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia was dead-set on keeping his undefeated record intact and did so with an eighth round TKO. The win moved Garcia's pro record to 30-0. It was also the first time that Barros has been stopped in his professional career.
The fight itself was interesting because of the switch in approach by both fighters around the halfway point of the scheduled for ten-round bout. During the beginning half, Barros was incredibly defensive and didn't do a whole lot more than that while Garcia outworked Barros, but didn't do it in an overly aggressive manner. Something that may have set the tone for the beginning half of the fight was late in round two when Garcia got Barros on the ropes, but remained cautious and chose to simply connect with some shots to clinch the round for him, but nothing more. All of this lead to Garcia building a lead on this writer's scorecard before Barros finally seemed to wake up.
Barros seemed to wake up in round five when he began to land fairly consistently through a full round for the first time in the bout. In round six, Barros got Garcia to play his game in a sense when the two got into a slugfest during the final minute of that round. The slugfest is noteworthy because it was different from a usual slugfest in that it featured shots to the body mainly instead of both fighters headhunting. Round seven featured Barros' best landed punch of the fight: a great left hook that noticeably stunned Garcia.
However, all that effort was in vain as Garcia finished things in round eight. After knocking Barros flat on his face with a huge left hook, and this writer can't emphasize the word huge enough in reference to the left hook Garcia landed here, Barros made the count, but immediately wanted no more and said so to referee Robert Byrd. Byrd immediately stopped the fight 2:24 into the round.
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