Luis “Pantera” Nery (34-1, 26 KOs) had to reach deep to score an 11th round TKO victory over a game Azat “Crazy A” Hovhannisyan (21-4, 17 KOs) in a WBC super bantamweight title eliminator on DAZN on Saturday night at the Fox Theater in Pomona, California.
After appearing to run out of gas from the combination of body shots and nonstop pressure from the 34-year-old Hovhannisyan through nine rounds, Nery knocked him down in the final seconds of the tenth round with a left hook to the head.
Unfortunately for the bloodied, bruised, and still hurt Hovhannisyan, there wasn’t enough time for him to recover in between rounds.
As a result, after a brief bit of success at the start of the 11th, Hovhannisyan was hurt by a hard left from Nery that sent him staggering into the ropes. Referee Ray Corona then stepped in and waved it off. The time of the stoppage was at 1:51 of the 11th.
The fight was an incredible seesaw battle that went back and forth through most of the contest. The 28-year-old former two-division world champion Nery enjoyed success through the first four rounds, but the body shots that Hovhannisyan was landing took their toll, taking away the legs of the Mexican warrior, forcing him to be stationary.
Once Nery could no longer move around to avoid the pressure from Hovhannisyan, he was highly vulnerable and took enormous punishment to the head & body. However, Hovhannisyan took a beating as well, suffering a bad cut under his right eye and a lot of swelling on his cheeks and nose.
Hovhannisyan was hurt in the fourth & sixth rounds from left hands from Nery. But after the sixth, Hovhannisyan began focusing on throwing to the body of Nery, and that took away a lot of the power on his shots.
The fight wasn’t supposed to be this competitive, as Nery was only beaten once in his career in a seventh round body stoppage by Brandon Figueroa in May 2021. Hovhannisyan’s toughness and focus on throwing to the body made up for his lack of elite talent, and he was able to take the air out of Nery’s tires and come close to pulling off a major upset.
With the victory tonight, Nery is now the WBC mandatory to WBC/WBO super bantamweight champion Stephen Fulton, who he called out after the fight, in addition to Naoya Inoue. Those two could be fighting soon, so Nery will need to wait.
“I want Inoue & I want Fulton,” said Nery after the fight when asked who he wanted to face next. “I feel ready to go for the world championship, whether it’s Fulton or Inoue.”