By Francisco Salazar
Arsen Goulamirian remained unbeaten Saturday night, stopping Mark Flanagan in round nine at the Palais des Sports in Marseille, France.
Goulamirian, who is originally from Armenia, improves to 24-0, 16 knockouts. He is the mandatory challenger to the WBA cruiserweight title, held by Oleksandr Usyk.
Goulamirian and Flanagan fought on even terms during the first three rounds, but Goulamirian closed the distance, ripping two and three-punch combinations to the head and body.
Flanagan's punch output began to drop by round four. Flanagan, who resides in Brisbane, Australia, was forced to fight defensively, raring going on the offensive with each passing round.
The 31-year-old Goulamirian battered Flanagan during the first minute of round six, landing several combinations. Even as the pace of the fight slowed down in rounds seven and eight, Flanagan was in survival mode.
The end came for Flanagan about midway through round nine, when a barrage of punches dropped him to the canvas. Flanagan got up, but was dropped again by another series of punches. Flanagan got up quickly, but was met with another barrage of punches, forcing his corner to throw in the towel, prompting referee Roberto Ramirez, Sr. to step in and stop the fight at 2:24.
Goulamirian now resides in Big Bear Lake, California, where he is trained by Abel Sanchez.
Flanagan, who is ranked number 10 by the WBA, drops to 24-6, 17 KOs.
Junior middleweight Mohammed Rabii, who won a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, stopped Austria's Gogi Knezevic (33-8-1, 14 KOs) in the first round.
Rabbi of Morocco improves to 7-0, 5 KOs.
Fringe super middleweight contender Mickael Diallo (17-0-2, 14 KOs) knocked out Argentina's Luis Eduardo Paz (12-6-1, 8 KOs) in the first round.
French junior middleweights Dylan Charrat (17-0-1, 4 KOs) and Howard Cospolite (17-6-3, 6 KOs) fought to a 12 round split decision draw.
One judge scored the bout 115-113 for Charrat, another scored the bout 117-111 for Cospolite, while the third judge scored the bout 115-115.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing