There was more action in the middle of the ring after the main event at Madison Square Garden than in the lackluster fight between Teofimo Lopez Jr. of New York (18-1, 13 KOs) and Sandor Martin of Spain (40-3, 13 KOs). Lopez Jr. won but didn't deliver the performance he promised the fans, and they let him know it. Scores were 97-92 and 96-93 for Lopez Jr. and 95-94 for Martin.
Martin scored a knockdown in the second round with a check right hook, and most observers, including NYFights, saw a second knockdown by Martin with the same punch in the seventh round. Referee Ricky Martin disagreed. Otherwise, it was a fight on Martin's terms, fought at distance as a tactical exercise with Martin moving smartly to the sides and evading knockout attempts by Lopez Jr. He was relieved to get the victory, and was caught on a live microphone admitting to Top Rank boxing officials he put on a poor performance. “Do I still got it?” said a dejected Lopez Jr.
But after getting his hand raised, Lopez Jr. was back to the bombast. “It was a boring ass fight. I can't believe it. You have to give me a better dance partner,” wailed Lopez Jr. to Martin in the ring after the fight.
“It's s hard to fight someone like this who's running the whole time,” said Lopez Jr. to ESPN reporter Bernardo Osuna. “We got a lot to work on. No matter what it was, I apologize to everyone tonight.” Lopez Jr. said he felt great overall from a physical standpoint. “He didn't want to commit. It makes it look good. These guys will want to fight me now,” Lopez Jr. “I'm more about pleasing the fans and putting on a show.”
Fans grew quiet during the bout while watching Lopez Jr. wind up and miss Martin. Martin stayed on the move, deploying the check hooks when he saw an opening. CompuBox stats show the punch counts between the two fighters were close.
Close Rounds Go to the Former Champion
Martin took the fight on three weeks' notice after the original opponent Jose Pedraza withdrew and fought nearly the entire fight with a seriously damaged nose after an accidental headbutt in the first round. Good work by his corner and his excellent conditioning kept it from being a factor. Lopez Jr.'s lack of aggression played into Martin's hands. But the Spaniard could have helped his cause with more offense. He admitted he “should have made it a war.” His skills should have gotten more credit from the judges – but they want to see offense.
Martin left the arena floor with a rueful smile on his face, convinced he was the true winner. The same smile was on his face as he reflected on the fight with Osuna on the surprising scorecards.
“I win this fight, clearly. Two knockdowns. The referee didn't count one of the knockdowns. It's a robbery,” said Martin. Martin insisted he controlled the action and timing of the bout. “Teofimo is exasperated. In round eight, his corner told him he was losing the fight,” said Martin. “He touched me three times, four times maximum. You win with this?”
Martin said the fight was easy for him, taking credit for two knockdowns, something Vasiliy Lomachenko and George Kambosos Jr. didn't do. “I'm a very good chess player. Every time he made an answer, he disappeared. I don't stay in the same place. I'm an artist. He's a showman. I'm a boxer.” Martin ended the interview urging Regis Prograis to “kill” Lopez Jr. in an upcoming fight.
Top Rank Boxing promoter Bob Arum told Dan Cannobio of CompuBox he'd favor Prograis in a matchup with Lopez Jr., believing he's having trouble adjusting to the 140-pound division. Lopez Jr. needs to consider replacing his father, Teofimo Sr. as his trainer and bringing in someone who can impose some ring discipline.
Bob Arum doesn’t think Teofimo is fully comfortable at 140 and Regis Prograis would be the favorite pic.twitter.com/NxQJlFjFS8
— Dan Canobbio (@DanCanobbio) December 11, 2022
Martin deserves another high-level battle just as much as Lopez Jr. If Lopez Jr. takes on Prograis, put Martin in front of Taylor or Pedraza.
Fans at The Garden were treated to much better bouts from the prospects filling the undercard.
Christmas Cracker: Jared Anderson KOs Jerry Forrest in Two Rounds
Heavy hitting heavyweight Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson of Toledo, Ohio (13-0, 13 KOs) played The Grinch in a Christmas theme walkout, then handed a big sackful of coal to Jerry Forrest of Virginia (26-6-2, 20 KOs). Anderson was expected to go some rounds against Forrest, who’d only been stopped once. But it took just a round and a half for Anderson to force referee David Fields to wave off the fight at 1:34 of round two.
Both men came out blasting away from the opening bell. Anderson landed 54 of 114 punches in the first round. Forrest caught Anderson flush with several hard shots, but this only fueled Anderson’s fire. “My corner said once I get hit, it’s a whole different ball game,” said Anderson. “I try to come in cool and calm. I see everybody kind of was expecting him to go out early. I didn’t want that. I did want to get all the way warmed up. But once he did hit me, as y'all see, something flipped, and all I saw was red. “
Anderson admitted he shouldn’t get riled up by taking incoming fire. His chin is solid, and so far, it hasn’t affected him. “Once I started to adjust and get my feet under me, I came back and made it better,” said Anderson. After the first round, the ringside physician took a long hard look at Forrest, then let him continue. The doctor and referee hovered close to Forrest. When Anderson pinned him into the ropes and unloaded, both were smart to step in.
Anderson thinks he’s ready now to take on the lower tier of the top 15. “Filip Hrgovic, Frank Sanchez, Dillan Whyte, Daniel Dubois, the whole list. We gotta make those fights. Anyone with an oh, they gotta go,” declared Anderson. Facing Dubois on his turf in the UK would be a serious resume-building fight. But just for fun, how about an all-action fight with Alen “The Savage” Bebic? Sign us up.
Xander Zayas Pleases Puerto Rican Fans With Action Fight
Engaging super lightweight prospect Xander Zayas of Puerto Rico (14-0, 10 KOs) traded shots with Alexis Salazar (25-5, 9 KOs) of Mexico for a crowd-pleasing eight rounds, walking away with a clear unanimous decision. Scores were 80-72 and 79-72 X 2. Two minutes into the first round, a left hook drove Salazar into the ropes preventing him from hitting the deck. Referee Harvey Dock missed calling the knockdown. It didn’t have any bearing on the outcome.
“Thank you to all the Puerto Rican fans who came out and who are watching at home. This is for you guys,” said Zayas. “They told me I looked good. There were a couple of moments when I let down my defense. I give myself a B-plus.” The 20-year-old Zayas is developing skills quickly. “Little by, little, we keep improving and getting better,” said Zayas, adding he can improve on everything.
Davis Doubles Down, Beats Burgos
2020 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis of Toledo, Ohio (7-0, 5 KOs) dispatched his second Mexican veteran in a row. Three-time world championship challenger Juan Carlos Burgos (35-6-3, 21 KOs) gave Davis a veteran’s test with his durability and experience. Burgos has never been stopped. Davis couldn’t do it, but he scored a decision shutout of 80-72 on all cards, landing 247 punches to just 48 for Burgos. The rounds Davis put in are a sound investment sure to pay big dividends.
“I felt, great man,” said Davis. “He’s definitely a tough veteran. I was trying to stop him. He eventually survived. I want to give myself an A, but I didn’t stop him, so I give myself a B-plus. We’re ready. I’m ready for the real tough competition. I dominated every round. We belong at the top.”
Polish Prospect Damian Knyba TKOs Salas
Polish heavyweight Damian Knyba (10-0, 6 KOs) took down Emilio Salas of Puerto Rico (7-3-1, 3 KOs). Salas’s corner asked the referee to stop the action in round 3 after Knyba landed a big uppercut and kept pounding on Salas pinned to the ropes. Given Top Rank’s ability to spot prospect talent, keep an eye on “The Polish Hussar.”
Tiger's Tale: Johnson Quickly Rising Through The Ranks
Easy work in the opener for Delante “Tiger” Johnson of Cleveland (7-0, 5 KOs) over Mike Ohan Jr. of Holbrook, Massachusetts (16-2, 9 KOs) in his first eight-round fight. The 2020 Olympian goes just five before referee Steve Willis steps in to stop the damage being done to Ohan Jr.
Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington and Jahi Tucker were originally on the card, but both fights were called off Friday. Tucker missed weight. Carrington’s opponent Juan Tapia was not cleared to fight by the New York State Athletic Commission.