By Stephen Hart at ringside
Eduardo Ramirez scored a stunning ninth-round TKO victory over Bryan De Gracia for the WBA Gold featherweight championship on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Trailing on two cards in the 12-round bout, the 26-year-old Mexican began his comeback with a right uppercut midway through the ninth that rocked De Gracia (24-2-1, 20 KOs) and sent him staggering into the ropes.
Ramirez (22-1-3, 9 KOs) wouldn’t let the Panamanian breathe, as he unleashed a flurry that had De Gracia dazed. He wobbled into the adjacent ropes, where Ramirez capped it off with a pair of devastating right uppercuts that brought an end to the bout with 50 seconds left in the ninth.
Until that point, it had primarily been De Gracia’s fight. The WBA #1 contender dominated rounds four through six, and when he landed a right with 25 seconds to go in the fifth round, Ramirez was in trouble. But the #3 WBA contender was able to spin out of trouble and lasted the round. While De Gracia, who was making his U.S. debut, couldn’t capitalize, Ramirez did with his one opening in the ninth.
Cruiserweight Edwin Rodriguez captured a unanimous but uneventful 10-round decision over Mitch Williams. After a lackluster start by both fighters, Rodriguez (31-2, 20 KOs) registered his best sequence in the fourth and fifth rounds as he discovered his right hand and put it to good use, connecting on numerous combinations. The closest the 33-year-old Texan came to a knockdown of Williams (16-7-3, 11 KOs) was with a minute left in the eighth, but Williams touch of the canvas was ruled a slip by the referee. Rodriguez won by scores of 96-94, 96-94 and 98-92 in a bout noted for its clutching and grabbing.
Antonio Russell’s 13th win against no defeats was anything but lucky, as the 26-year-old scored his 11th KO, stopping bantamweight Jose Maria Cardenas of Mexico with a barrage of lefts to the head just 22 seconds into the sixth round of a scheduled eight. The Maryland native, Russell started strong, sending Cardenas to the canvas with 1:20 left in the first round after three consecutive hard rights to his opponent’s left ear. Russell, the younger brother of WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr., was never threatened. He ended it by charging out of his corner to start the sixth, then pummeling Cardenas (16-4, 13 KOs) to prompt a stoppage from the doctor on hand.
Undefeated Leduan Barthelemy (14-0-1, 7 KOs) put on a clinic with a unanimous eight-round decision over super featherweight opponent Miguel Angel Aispuro of Mexico. The lanky 29-year-old Barthelemy, of Las Vegas, toyed with the 28-year-old Aispuro (11-7-2, 7 KOs) for much of the fight, seizing control by the third round. The southpaw consistently landed with straight lefts, and it was that punch that staggered Aispuro late in the sixth round, but the gutty Tijuana native held on and was never floored during the bout. Still, Barthelemy coasted, even doing a windup of a bolo punch that he didn’t throw in the third. Scores were 80-72, 80-72, 79-73.
Brooklyn’s Richardson Hitchins delighted the home crowd at the Barclays Center with a dazzling display of power, defeating David Morales when the bout was halted following the third round of a scheduled eight-round welterweight test. Hitchins stayed perfect at 8-0, 4 KOs, after a dominating third round that saw the 21-year-old drop the game but outclassed Morales with two straight overhand rights with 12 seconds left in the round.
While the bell saved Morales (13-10, 13 KOs) temporarily, the Nicaraguan couldn’t come out for the fourth.
Tyrek Irby rode a decisive first round to a unanimous six-round decision over Dennis Okoth in a battle of 25-year-old welterweights. Irby (7-0, 2 KOs) buckled his opponent with a straight left, then dropped him moments later moments later with an overhand right just 1:15 into the fight. Okoth falls to 2-2-1, 1 KO.
Middleweight Aaron Anderson remained undefeated with a four-round unanimous decision over Chukka Willis in the first bout of Showtime’s Premier Boxing Champions undercard for the Lara-Castano super welterweight title. The 27-year-old Anderson (4-0, 3 KOs), inactive for over two years, showed some rust over the first two rounds before taking over the fight with his left uppercut. The southpaw from Baltimore scored a 40-36 win on all the judges’ cards. The 25-year-old Willis, of Atlanta, dropped to 4-10, 2 KOs.