By David P. Greisman
Atlantic City, New Jersey - Kiko Martinez put pressure on Jhonatan Romero from the opening seconds of the opening round and never turned it off. Romero tried in vain to keep Martinez away but ultimately failed, losing his junior featherweight title by a sixth-round technical knockout.
Referee David Fields halted the onslaught 2 minute sand 40 seconds into the round. His mercy was necessary.
Martinez, a fighter with four losses on his record who had never before fought for a world title, attacked Romero’s body relentlessly and sent hard haymakers upstairs. A wild right hand and a left hook hurt Romero early in the first round, with plenty of that stanza remaining. CompuBox credited Martinez with landing 40 of 88 power punches in the first three minutes of the fight, while Romero was just 8 of 34.
Romero had to adjust, and so he did in the second round, frequently changing directions, popping a jab and moving, sending out combinations and moving, just moving and moving and moving some more. He needed to create distance, but the question was how long he could keep it up and keep Martinez off.
The pace and the pressure and the pounding ultimately wore Romero down. He wasn’t without his moments, though, as he summoned forth hard shots as another possible way of gaining control.
Things got worse before they could get better. Romero’s left eye was left swollen by what appeared to be a combination of a head butt and a punch. Martinez kept coming, mixing in hard shots to wear Romero down while also attempting and missing with home run overhand rights that could have brought the bout to an end.
“I had to keep throwing punches,” Martinez said afterward. “I knew that the referee was going to eventually stop the fight because I had him hurt.”
That end came in the sixth. Martinez pummeled Romero against the ropes, and the end seemed near. But then Romero burst forth with punches, and it seemed possible that he had survived and Martinez had punched himself out. Alas, Martinez landed shots that hurt Romero again and he threw until the referee jumped in.
CompuBox credited Martinez with landing 158 of 355 power punches, or 45 percent. He was 180 of 525 in total punches on the night, or 34 percent. Romero was 126 of 380 in total or 33 percent, and was 83 percent of 227 with his power shots.
“I felt very strong tonight,” Martinez said. “Today’s a big day and I’m going to have a party when I go back home.”
He also called out former titleholder Nonito Donaire.
Martinez, a 27-year-old Spaniard from Alicante, Comunidad Valenciana, is now 29-4 (21 KOs) and is the new International Boxing Federation beltholder. Romero, 26, of Cali, Colombia, lost a belt he had just picked up in February with a split decision win over Alejandro Lopez. He suffered his first pro defeat and is now 23-1 (12 KOs).
Featherweight prospect Joel Brunker remained undefeated with a unanimous decision over Mike Oliver, with all three judges seeing the bout 78-74.
It wasn’t overly pretty. Brunker’s game plan saw him pressing Oliver to the ropes and digging body shots, and at times getting too close, smothering himself and limiting his effectiveness. On other occasions, though, he stepped away and landed hard blows, while Oliver tried to counter off the ropes.
Brunker, 27, of New South wales, Australia, is now 27-0 (15 KOs). Oliver, 33, of Hartford, Conn., is now 25-5 with 8 knockouts and 1 no contest. He has now lost three in a row, including a majority decision to Billy Dib just this past July and, before that, a second-round technical knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Lopez way back in October 2011.
Yordenis Ugas took a 10-round unanimous decision over John Williams in a junior welterweight bout where the result wasn’t overly surprising. Ugas, after all, is a Cuban fighter who captured a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics. Williams, meanwhile, is a fighter from North Carolina whose nickname is “Spidey The Boxing Poet.”
Williams fought to the best of his abilities. It was far from enough. Ugas landed better, harder and more often. The scorecards were 98-91 (twice) and 99-90 — one point was taken from Ugas in the final round for low blows.
Ugas, a 27-year-old now training out of North Bergen, N.J., improves to 15-1 (7 KOs). Williams, 29, of Charlotte, is 11-3-1 (5 KOs).
Thomas Dulorme pummeled the heck out of Gato Figueroa for eight rounds, knocking him down twice, scoring a stoppage and getting his third straight victory in his campaign to contend sometime soon as a junior welterweight.
Dulorme was an undefeated prospect until last October, when he suffered a surprising technical knockout at the hands of Luis Carlos Abregu on the spotlight of an episode of HBO’s Boxing After Dark.”
That was a welterweight bout. He then dropped down to 143 for a first-round knockout this past February of Eddie Brooks, then came in at 144 for an eight-round decision victory over Ben Ankrah in April.
Dulorme weighed 141 pounds for this fight. His opponent, Francisco “Gato” Figueroa, came visibly in shape but otherwise had little ability to keep Dulorme off him. Figueroa, a 35-year-old who had last been seen losing a decision a year ago to Breidis Prescott, had comparatively little power, and he seemed slowed down by age and the wear and tear of his career and rust from time out of the ring.
Dulorme tried to take the fight out of Figueroa early, landing body shots as well as blows that veered to and below the beltline. Figueroa glanced toward the referee and even went down in pain from one such low blow in the first. That wouldn’t be the only time.
Figueroa came out with a head of steam in the third. Dulorme withstood it and quickly took control, scoring his first knockdown when he landed a shot as Figueroa was tripping backward. In the fifth, Dulorme landed a right cross, followed by a left to the body. Figueroa threw a southpaw right hook and was then caught with a left hook to the head that put him on the canvas for the second time of the night. Yet Dulorme landed another low blow that led the referee to take a point, making it a rare 9-8 round.
Dulorme continued to punish Figueroa, then took the seventh round off before finishing the fight in the eighth, assaulting Figueroa against the ropes and around the ring until the referee stepped in. The time of the stoppage was 47 seconds into the round.
Dulorme, 23, of Carolina, Puerto Rico, improves to 19-1 (14 KOs). Figueroa, who is from the Bronx, N.Y., falls to 20-6-1 (13 KOs) according to the record listed on BoxRec (he was announced in the arena as having one fewer loss than the website had).
In the show’s opener, lightweight Jonathan Maicelo rebounded from his first pro loss by scoring a 10th-round knockout of Jose Alejandro Rodriguez.
The time of the stoppage was 22 seconds into what was the final scheduled round.
Maicelo had suffered a knockout of his own this past April at the hands of Rustam Nugaev. He returned four months later, facing a challenger who was game and experienced — Rodriguez’s 30 fights included losses to Ray Beltran, Mickey Bey, John Molina and Eloy Perez — but not overly effective. Maicelo landed most of the scoring blows, often catching a retreating Rodriguez at the end of his punches.
The end came with a right hand that got a delayed reaction from Rodriguez, who took a knee and remained there for the entirety of the referee’s count.
Maicelo, a 30-year-old Peruvian now fighting out of North Bergen, N.J., is now 20-1 (12 KOs). Rodriguez, 25, of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, is now 19-12 (11 KOs).
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]