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Ford wins featherweight crown with 12th-round miracle knockout

Raymond Ford captured the WBA featherweight world title with a dramatic, come-from-behind 12th-round TKO win against Otabek Kholmatov in New York.

Trailing on two of three scorecards, Ford dug deep to secure his first world title in the final round, as Kholmatov was ahead with two scores of 106-103, while one judge had it 105-104 for the native of Camden, New Jersey.

Ford, also known as “Savage”, is the first person to beat Uzbekistan fighter Kholmatov and his win was the 15th of his professional career.

“My coach told me to bring that dog out. We knew we were coming into their territory. This wasn’t under our promotion. But we had to dig deep,” said Ford.

“The whole time in the corner, I kept telling myself, ‘I’m going to stop him.’ I felt him breaking down as the rounds went on.

“I started off a little slow. I felt I didn’t really have the energy and the legs to be the sharper boxer I know I can be. That was due to a tough weight cut. So, this may be my last fight at 126. Then, we’ll go up to 130 and call out the champions there.

Raymond Ford
Image: Raymond Ford was overcome with emotion and exhaustion after a dramatic 12th round knockout

“I knew I had to stop him. The rounds were too close. I just had to bring that dog out that my coaches were talking about. I always knew I had it in me. I come from a rough background. There’s nothing that can stop me. Ever.”

Kholmatov started off strong, pressuring and hurting Ford with a left hand in the second round. Ford then began to change the dynamic by pressuring the power puncher, using his high guard to stand in front of Kholmatov to land his offense.

By the seventh round, both men were going toe-to-toe in the centre of the ring. Kholmatov fought on the outside in the later rounds, but he was hurt by Ford in the final stanza. Ford quickly capitalized and landed a flurry. Referee Charlie Fitch waved off the contest at 2:53 as Kholmatov staggered into the ropes.

Raymond Ford
Image: Raymond Ford says he kept telling myself, ‘I’m going to stop him

Venado sees off Abe in eight rounds

Luis Alberto “Venado” Lopez successfully defended his IBF featherweight crown with an eighth-round TKO win over Japanese contender Reiya Abe.

Abe struggled with Lopez’s offense as the Mexican warrior launched forward with power shots from odd angles. A left hand from Lopez caused Abe’s right eye to swell. The ringside physician allowed him to continue, as Lopez continued to march forward.

In the eighth round, inspired by the cheers from the crowd, Lopez initiated a flurry of quick strikes, which forced referee Mark Nelson to halt the action and moved his professional record onto 30-2, 17 KOs.

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IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez dominated challenger Reiya Abe scoring an eighth-round TKO knockout in New York

“I turned and looked at my family, my baby, my wife and my mum and dad, and that was the key to my motivation. I knew I had to finish the fight,” said Lopez.

“Abe was a warrior. He was able to continue with his eye shut. He continued fighting with a lot of heart. We know that Japanese fighters have a lot of heart. But I also have a lot of hunger to continue being a world champion, and I had to show that.

“Like I have been saying, it would be great for me to unify. But I would also like to have a fight at 130 pounds. If they put me in against the winner of Oscar Valdez and Liam Wilson, that would be stupendous.”

Luis Alberto Lopez
Image: Luis Alberto Lopez successfully defended his IBF featherweight crown

Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight showdown with Francis Ngannou takes place on Friday March 8, live on Sky Sports Box Office. Book Joshua v Ngannou now!

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