Raymond Ford Scores Dramatic 12th Round TKO Over Otabek Kholmatov

By James Stillerman - 03/04/2024 - Comments

Raymond Ford scored a dramatic twelfth-round technical knockout over Otabek Kholmatov to claim the vacant WBA world featherweight title in the main event. Referee Charlie Fitch stopped this action-packed bout with seven seconds left. Ford stunned Kholmatov with several hard combinations and then a powerful right hook that badly staggered Kholmatov and sent him into the corner sideways and on unsteady legs.

At the time of the stoppage, Ford was behind on judges Eric Marlinski and John McKaie’s scorecards (106-103) and ahead on judge Don Ackerman’s scorecard (105-104). He became the fifteenth fighter in boxing history to win a world title when trailing on the judges’ scorecards going into the final round.

Kholmatov controlled the first four rounds as he was the much more active fighter and continued to land an overhand left jab, while Ford did not throw many punches in the early going. Kholmatov landed a hard left hook in the third round. Ford became more aggressive and started to let his hands go in the fifth, as he backed Kholmatov up with several hard jabs.

Both fighters continued to trade punches in the sixth and seventh round. Ford landed a left uppercut in the eighth and then Kholmatov came back in the round and connected with an uppercut and right hook. Ford landed a straight left that staggered Kholmatov in the tenth. Kholmatov hurt Ford from several left and right hooks in the eleventh. Later in that round, Ford started to bleed badly from his left eye from a clash of heads. Towards the end of the twelfth round, Ford stunned Kholmatov with a body shot and uppercut and then pushed him to the canvas, which was ruled a slip.

According to CompuBox punch statistics, Kholmatov threw more punches than Ford (728 to 598) and landed more (200 to 182), while Ford had a better connect percentage (30 to 27). Kholmatov outlanded Ford in nine rounds. Ford connected on more jabs (80 to 71), but Kholmatov landed more power punches (129 to 102).

Ford kept his undefeated record intact (15-0-1, 8 KOs). He told reporters after the fight that he would move up to the 130-pound division because he was struggling to make weight for this bout. Ford mentioned that he wanted to fight IBF world champion Joe Cordina next. If both fighters want the matchup, it can be easily done since they both share the same promoter, Matchroom Boxing.

Kholmatov sustained his first professional loss, as he dropped to 12-1, 11 KOs. He was taken to the hospital after the fight as a precautionary measure.

Top Rank promoted both featherweight world title fights from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. Both bouts were televised live on ESPN+.

IBF featherweight world champion Luis Alberto Lopez defeated Reiya Abe via an eighth-round technical knockout in the co-feature to retain his world title for the third time. Lopez threw over a dozen unanswered punches (many missed but five hard shots landed) on Abe which prompted referee Mark Nelson to stop the bout at thirty-nine seconds.

Lopez dominated this one-sided fight. He aggressively chased Abe around the ring and outworked and out-landed the defensive-minded Abe. He also connected on the harder punches. Abe’s right eye was swollen and began to close towards the end of the second round. The ringside doctor checked Abe’s eye at the end of the third round and took an extremely long look at it before the fourth and fifth round but decided that the fight could continue. Lopez landed a flurry of body and head combinations at the end of the third and connected on several looping left and right hooks (that constantly landed throughout the bout) in the fifth round that staggered Abe. Abe had his best round of the fight in the six as he finally started to let his hands go, but Lopez dominated the last two rounds with numerous hard-landing combinations.

According to CompuBox punch statistics, Lopez threw more punches than Abe (389 to 248), landed almost three times as many shots (165 to 57), and had a better connect percentage (42 to 23). Lopez outlanded Abe in every round. He connected on more jabs (30 to 6) and landed more than double the number of power punches (135 to 51).

Lopez upped his record to 30-2, 17 KOs. He previously defended his title with a twelve-round unanimous decision against Joet Gonzalez and a fifth-round technical knockout over Michael Conlan. He has won thirteen in a row (nine by knockout), including an upset win over Josh Warrington that won him the IBF title in 2022. Lopez told reporters after the fight that he was open to an unification match or to move up to the 130-pound division.

Abe, who became Lopez’s mandatory challenger with a twelve-round unanimous decision over Kiko Martinez, fell to 25-4-1, 10 KOs. He has his six-fight winning streak stopped. This was Abe’s first world title fight and first bout outside Japan.