Home Boxing News Raymond Ford earns plaudits for dramatic come-from-behind win over Otabek Kholmatov

Raymond Ford earns plaudits for dramatic come-from-behind win over Otabek Kholmatov

Raymond Ford lands on Otabek Kholmatov. Photo credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

In another early contender for Fight of the Year, Raymond ‘Savage’ Ford 15-0-1 (8) lived up to his nickname as he rallied from an early deficit to knock out Otabek Kholmatov 12-1 (11) in the dying seconds of the twelfth and final round of the their fight for the vacant WBA featherweight title at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York on Saturday night.

Uzbek southpaw Kholmatov, 25, started well, using his in-and-out movement to set up counterpunching opportunities that often came in combination. You could make an argument that he swept the first five rounds, although Camden, New Jersey’s Ford, 24, in the fifth.

Ford began breaking Kholmatov’s rhythm in the sixth and in the eighth he had his best round of the fight, meeting fire with fire on the inside and getting the better of the exchanges.

Kholmatov appeared fatigued and his punches became wilder as Ford kept up the pressure through the tenth round. The question of whether Kholmatov could find his second wind was answered in the 11th when he roared back to life, banking the round on all three of the official judges’ scorecards.

Sensing it was close going into the final round, Ford went for broke. With blood pouring down his cheek from a nasty gash caused by an accidental headclash, he charged after Kholmatov, loading up on his shots.

Ford hurt Kholmatov and he went to the deck in the midst of a messy grapple that referee Charlie Fitch ruled a slip.

But Ford wasn’t going to let him off the hook that easily, landing blow that caused Kholmatov to retreat across the ring. Ford caught him again on the chin and Kholmatov stumbled to the ropes where Ford hit him again.

Referee Fitch decided enough was enough and halted the contest at the 2:53 mark. Kholmatov was up 106-103 on two of the judges’ cards at the time, while the third judge had it for Ford 105-104.

“I always knew I had it in me. I come from a rough background. There’s nothing that can stop me ever,” said Ford after the fight.

“I always knew I had a better inside game to him. I didn’t expect him to be as sharp as he was as a boxer and he used his legs as much as he could.

“I knew I had to dig down to his body and bring it sharp hooks up upstairs and you know that’s my money punch so I knew I could get him out with one of those.”

In the main support bout reigning IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto ‘El Venado’ Lopez 30-2 (17) cruised past mandatory challenger Reiya Abe 25-4-1 (10) in eight frames.

Mexico’s Lopez, 30, hit the 30-year-old Japanese southpaw with a left hook in the second round that immediately started to swell his eye. Video replays show if was an unintentional thumb to the eye that did the damage.

Abe gamely battle on but it always looked like just a matter of time before his eye would fully close and the bout would be called off. When Lopez unleashed a volley of shots, referee Marc Nelson decided he had seen enough and ended the fight at 0:39 of round number eight.

“I came out to finish that fight in the eighth round,” Lopez said afterwards. “I looked over to see my wife, my mother and my daughter and said, ‘this is the moment to end the fight’.”