The small and intimate venue was not packed to capacity yet there appeared to be electricity and anticipation in the air among the crowd as commentators Barry Tompkins and former IBF Light Middleweight Champion Raul “El Diamante” Marquez (41-4-1/29 KOs) talked up the arrival and subsequent showing of “La Cobra” in the ring. Santana, who resides in Miami, Florida, came into this fight an obvious favorite and the emergence of Mamadjonov, who fights out of Houston, Texas with renowned trainer and former IBF Middleweight Champion Frank Tate (41-5/24 KOs), who is best remembered for his 15 round UD victory over Canadian Michael “The Silk” Olajide (27-5/19 KOs) for the IBF strap on October 10, 1987 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.
With a knockout average of around 73% for Santana as compared to 61% for Mamdjonov, the speculation about “Baha” seemed to be founded, at least on paper and by the uninformed and unknowing public. Santana has run through his last seven opponents in dramatic fashion, piling up 6 wins by TKO and 1 KO victory in his run for recognition as a rising Lightweight. The atmosphere was set, the stage was lit, and the opponent was there for “La Cobra”. But what Santana did not expect to find in the ring was a game and determined boxer who had a game plan all his own and the ability to adjust effectively during the bout to implement his own strategy and keys to victory.
Angelo Santana began the fight utilizing his stability and balance in the squared circle to set effectively in the pocket and deliver pin point shots with accuracy and precision. With a flash knockdown of Bahodir in the beginning of the fight (he was off balance more than anything else), it seemed as if Santana would possibly prevail over the relatively unknown Mamadjonov, extending his winning streak to 15 straight and remaining undefeated. Yet “Baha” had other plans for the Cuban power/counter-puncher.
As the fight progressed, Mamadjonov started to find his rhythm and began to time Santana successfully. With Angelo trying to press the action but being defensive minded and looking to land power shots as counters, “Baha” began to press some action of his own and initiated a body attack that started to wear down the card favorite. With repetitive digging to the body and the successive landing of at least three hammering left hooks to the bread basket of “La Cobra” in the 8th round, Mamadjnov was able to neutralize Santana and make him wilt to his knees for the first knockdown scored against Angelo for “Baha”.
Once the 9th round opened and the action ensued again, the Houston based fighter went in for the kill and attacked the Floridian with a tightly grouped and powerful barrage of punches that sent Santana recoiling and reeling to the canvas twice, with referee Kenny Bayless doing the right thing and stopping the fight at 0:51 accordingly. Angelo Santana did get up after Bayless halted the action but acted in protest, although the stoppage was more than appropriate.
With his first loss as professional, Angelo Santana has to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate what it is he needs to do to regain that focus and winning streak that he already built prior to his only defeat. Sometimes a loss can really damage a boxer’s ego, particularly when that fighter is on a victorious path and sees losing as impossible. Yet other pugilists take that experience and learn as much as they can from it, often returning to the ring that much better because of it. Hopefully “La Cobra” can draw some knowledge out from the recent snake bite that he suffered at the fists of “Baha” Mamadjnov, who is extended sincere congratulations on his brilliant victory.
Kudos to Showtime for continuing to showcase rising young stars making their way through the ranks and for staying true to the sport by shining a spotlight on some fresher talent to look for in the years to come. The Shobox programming harkens back to smokers, fights held where the venues tend to be much smaller but the punches that are thrown are far larger in comparison and contrast to bigger events, especially when the leather starts to fly.
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