Jose Ramirez is still the champion…
The 26-year-old Latino boxer defended his junior welterweight title via unanimous 12-round decision over the weekend in a sensational fight with Antonio Orozco that featured sizzling two-way action in every round.
The roaring crowds inside Save Mark Arena in Fresno, California, and ESPN‘s television audience were treated to a true slug fest, as both men put everything on the line from the first bell to the last.
Ramirez won by scores of 119-107 on all three judges’ scorecards. He was making the first defense of the vacant junior welterweight title he won by defeating Amir Imam on March 17 at Madison Square Garden.
Ramirez was scheduled to make a homecoming defense against Danny O’Connor in July, but O’Connor was forced to withdraw 24 hours before the fight when he was hospitalized, suffering from dehydration and kidney problems incurred while trying to make the division’s 140-pound limit.
The wait was well worth it. Ramirez (23-0, 16 KOs) and Orozco (27-1, 17 KOs) wasted no time slugging it out. They set a dizzying pace in the opening round and seldom slowed down.
Ramirez’s jab, combination punching and body shots were the keys to his victory. Orozco battled back with left hooks to the head and body, but despite his punch output, he couldn’t turn the fight in his favor.
Many of the rounds were close, as both fighters hammered away at each other with reckless abandon. But Ramirez’s hand speed and slightly harder punches allowed him to edge most rounds.
Still, every time Ramirez seemed on the verge of scoring a knockout, Orozco, of Stockton, rallied back to stay in the fight.
A toe-to-toe exchange in the fourth round resulted in a knockdown when Ramirez countered a combination from Orozco with a right to the jaw that dropped his adversary for a nine count.
Orozco did some of his best work in the sixth when he connected with a series of rights to the head. He also did well in the seventh when he moved laterally and tagged Ramirez with a number of hard jabs. It looked like the end for Orozco in the eighth. Ramirez forced him to the ropes and delivered a brutal left hook to the liver. Orozco winced in pain and crumbled to the canvas. It was the sort of punch that frequently leads to a knockout, but somehow Orozco managed to beat referee Marcos Rosales’ count and blast back with his own punches.
Before the start of the ninth round, the ringside doctor examined Orozco but allowed him to continue. He battled on fairly even terms with Ramirez in the ninth and jarred the titleholder with a right uppercut in the 10th round.
Orozco appeared to be tiring in the 11th, and Ramirez made good use of his left hook to regain total control. By then Orozco was bleeding from a cut on his left eyebrow.
Ramirez won the final round as well, but with less than a minute to go, they stood chest-to-chest and banged away until the bell rang, at which point the crowd erupted in a well-deserved ovation.
“Antonio Orozco is a true warrior. He wouldn’t stay down,” Ramirez said, adding that he hopes to unify the title.
“No excuses,” Orozco said. “He was a better fighter than me. He’s a great champion. But I’m going to rebuild and come back.”