By Jake Donovan
Undefeated 22-year old prospect Luis Ramos Jr. barely escaped his Telefutura-televised main event with his undefeated record still intact, fending off a determined Jose Hernandez en route to a majority decision win Friday evening in Costa Mesa, California.
Ramos weighed in at a career high 139 ½ lb, more than four pounds heavier than Hernandez, who checked in at 135 ¼ lb.
Ramos continues to rack up decision wins and boasts a sub .500 knockout to win percentage, but it doesn’t mean that the Californian lacks power.
Such was evident in the second round, when the southpaw landed a combination that had Hernandez badly stunned. A knockdown appeared to come of the moment, only for the sequence to have been ruled a slip by veteran referee Lou Moret.
The moment didn’t discourage Ramos, who continued to mix boxing and banging throughout the eight-round affair.
However, it provided Hernandez the necessary courage to press the action and brawl his way back into the fight.
The end result was a nip and tuck affair throughout their eight round contest, with hardly a lull to be found along the way.
Anxious moments came in the seventh round, when a Ramos uppercut dislodged Hernandez’ mouthpiece. However, the sequence wasn’t properly followed up, allowing for time to be called and for the gumshield to be reinserted.
Ramos attempted to make up for lost time, but to no avail. The strategy didn’t sit well at all with his corner, who demanded that their charge forget about pleasing the crowd and stick to boxing in the final round of a fight that was way too close for their liking.
Ramos didn’t completely disobey his corner, but at the same time dug down deep to ensure that nothing dramatic landed in return.
His late round efforts turned out to be just enough to avoid loss or even a pesky stalemate. Scores were 76-76 even, and 79-73 and 77-75 in favor of Ramos, who improves to 18-0 (8KO).
Hernandez, who came just shy of upsetting Mickey Bey just one month ago, is now winless in his last five contests as he falls to 10-5-1 (4KO).
The fight was Ramos’ first of 2011, having been out of the ring since last September. Needless to say, it wasn’t his finest hour in the ring; in fact, it might have been his most uneven performance to date.
It also wasn’t the best of times for undefeated junior middleweight contender James Kirkland, who fought for the second time in less than two weeks. Luckily for the power punching southpaw, his co-feature bout with Colombian journeyman Jhon Berrio didn’t last long enough to provide a scare.
However, it was enough to provide some stink, as Berrio folded up like a cheap suit in a second round knockout that didn’t resonate well with the crowd on hand.
Kirkland came racing out of the gate, as if expecting Berrio to faint at the first sight of the undefeated junior middleweight contender throwing leather. Berrio (15-9, 11KO) managed to survive the early onslaught as well as the opening round, even landing a few head shots of his own. None of the incoming seemed to bother Kirkland, who wasn’t the least bit concerned with playing defense as he focused on getting rid of his foe as early as possible.
That moment would come approximately one minute later.
A right hook early into the second round drove Berrio to a corner, where he found himself under siege. Action paused just long enough for the two fighters to move towards the ropes, where Kirkland shot off a straight left hand that didn’t seem to have much behind it as it grazed the top of Berrio’s head.
Apparently, it hit the sweet spot as the Colombian slithered to the canvas while Kirkland attempted to follow up with a right hook.
Berrio remained on all fours during most the referee’s mandatory count. He attempted to rise to his feet at eight, but pitched forward without ever cleanly getting up, causing the third man to wave off the contest amidst a chorus of boos from a crowd that felt cheated by the ending.
The official time was 1:05 of the second round.
Kirkland didn’t seem to mind the way things ended, nodding during the knockdown as if to confirm the damage caused by the left hand and again at fight’s conclusion, pleased with the four or so minutes of work put forth.
All told, the southpaw moves to 27-0 (24KO). The knockout win is his second since returning to the ring earlier this month following a two-year break due to a stint in jail and an extended stay in a halfway house.
His first fight back didn’t even last as long as it took to announce his return, knocking out Ashanti Gibbs in just 34 seconds. In two fights over the past 13 days, Kirkland has amassed barely 4 ½ minutes of actual ring time.
Perhaps his next fight will provide a little bit more of a challenge. The Texas native returns to the ring on April 9, as he will serve in the opening bout of a telecast headlined by a junior welterweight showdown between Erik Morales and Marcos Maidana.
It remains to be seen whether or not the bout will take place closer to the junior middleweight division in which Kirkland campaigned before violating the terms of his parole two years ago. He has logged consecutive career high weights in each of his past two contests, weighing 162 ½ against Gibbs and tipping the scales at 163 ½ for this bout.
Conditioning could eventually become a factor if he doesn’t work on dropping back down to the 154 lb. division. Kirkland appeared a bit fleshy, and appeared to tire towards the end of the first round after throwing a hailstorm of punches early on.
It would seem that getting back into fighting shape remains the priority, as next month will mark his third fight in just over a month. Once all the way back in that regard, peak physical condition should soon follow, at which point he can regain his previous standing as one of the more promising rising contenders in the sport.
Until then, fans will just have to hope that the competition gradually improves as Kirkland continues to embark on the comeback trail.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected] .