By Keith Idec
Jose Ramirez and Antonio Orozco delivered the entertaining slugfest they promised Friday night.
Ramirez remained unbeaten by dropping Orozco twice and winning a 12-round battle between two extremely tough 140-pounders by unanimous decision in the main event of an ESPN tripleheader from Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. The hometown hero floored Orozco once apiece in the fourth and eighth rounds, and won their bout by the same big margin on all three scorecards (119-107).
Those two knockdowns, his durability and activity enabled Ramirez to remain unbeaten (23-0, 16 KOs) against San Diego’s Orozco, who lost for the first time as a pro (27-1, 17 KOs). The 26-year-old Ramirez, of nearby Avenal, California, also made the first defense of the WBC super lightweight title he won by out-boxing Amir Imam on March 17 in New York.
Ramirez was supposed to fight Danny O’Connor on July 7, but their fight was canceled two days earlier because O’Connor was so severely dehydrated from trying to make weight he had to be hospitalized.
The non-stop action Friday night continued throughout the 12th round, right up until the final bell. Ramirez seemed to have more on his punches by then and again was the more active fighter in those final three minutes.
Ramirez, who threw 1,036 punches in the fight, hammered a tiring Orozco with right hands early in the 11th round, when he was well on his way to a convincing victory.
Orozco moved Ramirez backward with a right uppercut about 25 seconds into the 10th round. Ramirez and Orozco socked each other with hard head shots during an exciting exchange that unfolded with just over a minute to go in the 10th round.
Orozco landed a three-punch combination to Ramirez’s head just prior to the halfway point of the ninth round. Ramirez’s best moment of the ninth round came when he cracked Orozco with a straight right hand to the middle of his face when there were about 35 seconds to go in it.
Orozco connected with an overhand right about 50 seconds into the eighth round. Ramirez staggered Orozco with a right hand around the midway point of the eighth and sent him to the canvas for the second time in the bout by landing a left hook to the body several seconds later.
A resilient Orozco got up again and survived that trouble, too, to make it to the ninth round.
Ramirez’s jarring jab kept Orozco from coming forward with just under a minute left in the seventh round. Orozco and Ramirez each connected with flush right hands with under 10 seconds remaining in that round.
Orozco cracked Ramirez with a straight right hand when there was around one minute to go in the sixth round. He landed another right hand with just under 10 seconds to go in the sixth.
A counter left hand by Ramirez earlier in the sixth opened a cut around Orozco’s right eye.
Orozco got back into the fight during a very competitive fifth round, a round after Ramirez floored him with a right hand. The traded hard left hooks with just under 50 seconds left in the fifth round.
Ramirez’s stiff jab stopped Orozco in his tracks about 25 seconds into the fourth round. A great exchange began just after the halfway point of the fourth round, which led to Ramirez dropping Orozco with a right hand directly to his jaw.
Orozco pounded his gloves to the canvas in frustration when he was flat on his back. He then rose to one knee and got up as the referee’s count reached nine.
A courageous Orozco was able to fight his way out of trouble during the final minute plus of the fourth round and made it the bell to end it.
Ramirez hit Orozco with a straight right hand just before the midway mark of the third round, but Orozco fired back with right hand of his own. About 30 seconds later, Ramirez caught Orozco with a right hand that snapped back his head.
Orozco and Ramirez traded body shots toward the end of the second round.
A left hand by Ramirez knocked Orozco into the ropes early in the second round. Orozco came back to hit Ramirez with two hard lefts to the body when there were about two minutes to go in the second round.
Orozco also hit Ramirez with two straight right hands later in the second round.
Ramirez connected with a left uppercut at the midway point of the first round, in which both boxers landed hard shots. Ramirez landed two thudding left hands to Orozco’s body with just over two minutes left in the first round.
ON THE UNDERCARD
Vacant USBA Welterweight Title: Alexander Besputin (11-0, 9 KOs), TKO 9, 1:44, Alan Sanchez (20-4-1, 10 KOs).
Super Lightweights: Hiroki Okada (19-0, 13 KOs), split decision, 10 rounds, Cristian Cora (27-7-2, 11 KOs). Scores: 95-94 Okada, 95-94 Coria, 95-94 Okada.
Lightweights: Bryan Vasquez (38-3, 20 KOs), unanimous decision, 10 rounds, Carlos Cardenas (21-15-1, 13 KOs). Scores: 98-92, 96-94, 96-94 .
Featherweights: Isidro Ochoa (6-0, 2 KOs), KO 3, 2:14, Elio De Jesus (2-3, 0 KOs).
Super Bantamweights: Santos Ortega (3-0, 1 KO), unanimous decision, 4 rounds, Sebastian Baltazar (1-2, 0 KOs). Scores: 40-36, 40-36, 40-36.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.