PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - April 08, 2017  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


Jason Sosa's dream streak at the top of the junior lightweight division ended Saturday night at the new MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, MD. After establishing himself as a real factor at 130 pounds after three performances

In the main event at the MGM National Harbor, WBO junior lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko, 8-1, 6 KOs, stopped Camden, NJ's Jason Sosa, 20-2-4, 15 KOs, at the end of round nine to defend his world title. For Sosa, it was the end of a dream streak of three brilliant performances that began in December 2015 and stretched for almost sixteen months.

Sosa’s run included three fights, all upsets, which put Sosa on the map at 130 pounds, earned him a world championship, and saw him defend the belt once. However, hopes to defy the odds once again, this time against the top dog at junior lightweight, did not materialize on the HBO nationally televised bout.

There wasn’t an expert that gave Sosa much of a chance in the fight. Despite his work ethic, experience, winning attitude, and serious career momentum, most felt the skill deficit between the two fighters was just too wide to allow Sosa to pull another shocker. As it turned out, this theory was correct. However, Sosa proved his toughness, his heart, and his willingness to face the very best.

In the fight, Lomachenko dominated the action from the opening bell and won every round of the fight. Sosa fought tough, pressed the action often, but had great difficulty landing on the stylish Ukrainian star.

The third round was perhaps Sosa's best of the fight, but it was also the frame when his eyes began to swell, especially his left, which worsened as the fight progressed. Most of the rounds followed the same pattern. Lomachenko controlled the action with his southpaw style. He jabbed, he moved, and he landed hard punches, while Sosa tried to press him. However, Sosa had trouble landing the many power punches he launched in the champ’s direction. Over time, Lomachenko’s punches and finesse wore Sosa down and left him susceptible for even more punishment.

In round eight, Lomachenko hurt Sosa badly and the challenger remained woozy for an extended period. Had referee Kenny Chevalier stepped in at this point, no one would have argued. However, the ref held off and so Lomachenko kept dishing out the punishment. The always-tough Sosa absorbed the beating and remained solidly on his feet throughout. Despite Sosa’s durability, the session was so decisive in Loma’s favor that I scored the round 10-8. None of the official judges agreed with this.

Between rounds, Sosa’s trainer, Raul Rivas, clearly told Jason that he needed to show him that the fight should continue, and gave him one more round to do it. 

However, round nine was more of the same. So, after Lomachenko administered another full three minutes of punishment, Sosa's trainer wisely asked the referee to halt the contest before the bell sounded for the tenth. The official time of the TKO was 3:00 of round nine.

"It was the accumulation of punches,” Rivas said. “I didn't want to see him get hurt. So I stopped the fight.”  

It was a very good decision. Sosa needed to be saved from further abuse. A fighter like Sosa will not stop trying, even when it is to his detriment. Fighters fight, and that’s what Sosa did against Lomachenko.

"I came to show my "High Tech" style and to prove that I am the best fighter in the world," Lomachenko said after his victory. "I think I did my job." 

With the win, Lomachenko continued to build his growing legacy. Sosa deserves credit for stepping up and fighting the man no one else seemed to want to face. Sosa took the fight in stride, did his best, but fell short.

In an NABA / USBA super middleweight title bout scheduled for ten rounds, Philadelphia's Jesse Hart, remained undefeated (22-0, 18 KOs), with a fifth round TKO of Alan Campa of Guaymas, Mexico, 16-3, 11 KOs. Although he never managed to floor his opponent, Hart landed many heavy blows, especially uppercuts from both sides, and won every round leading up to the stoppage.

After the victory, at 1:44 of round five, Hart called for a shot at WBO champ Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez. "I'm the number one contender," Hart said. "I want Zurdo next. I'm calling Top Rank myself on Monday. I promise I will knock Zurdo out!" 

In other action, Ukrainian light heavyweight Oleksandr Gvozdyk, 13-0, 11 KOs, impressively stopped Miami-based Cuban Yuniesky Gonzalez, 18-3, 14 KOs in round three of a scheduled ten rounder. In what figured to be a competitive match, Gvozdyk dominated the action, winning the first two rounds before dropping Gonzalez twice in the third. Referee Harvey Dock stopped the fight at 2:55 of the third round. Gvozdyk defended his NABF title and won the vacant NABO belt with the victory.

In the opening bout of the live HBO broadcast, WBO cruiserweight champion, Aleksandr Usyk, 12-0, 10 KOs, retained his belt with an exciting 12-round unanimous points win over Mike Hunter of Las Vegas, 12-1, 8 KOs. The fight was fairly tight over the first six rounds, before the Ukrainian champ began to bank round after round in the second half. Hunter boxed well, but Usyk landed the harder shots and became more aggressive as the bout unfolded.

In the final round, Usyk dished out a great deal of punishment, and Hunter was hurt for much of the round. One volley of punches sent Hunter into the ropes. So referee Bill Clancy correctly called it a knockdown. The fight could have been stopped any time after the knockdown, but Hunter hung tough and Clancy let it go until the final bell. All three scores were the same, 117-110, in favor of the champion.

In a dull ten round junior welterweight bout, Mike Reed, Waldorf, MD, 22-0, 12 KOs, won a lopsided decision over Mexican Reyes Sanchez, 26-10-2, 15 KOs. There was no doubt that Reed was the better fighter, but the monotonous contest was difficult to watch. Reed hurt his opponent in round six, but failed to capitalize on the situation. After ten long rounds, Reed took the unanimous decision by three identical official scores of 99-91. My score was a clean sweep, 100-90.

Maryland junior welterweight Patrick Harris, 11-0, 7 KOs, beat Mexico’s Omar Garcia, 6-7, 1 KO, by unanimous decision over eight rounds. All three official scores (as well as mine) were a perfect 80-72 for Harris. Again, Harris had the skills to win easy, but the execution was excruciating.

In years to come, when they say that Vasyl Lomachenko was the first man to fight at the MGM National Harbor, it will be an incorrect piece of trivia. That honor goes to a pair of welterweights who opened the show, and were the first to ever step into the ring of this beautiful new venue.  

Egidijus Kavaliauskas, 16-0, 13 KOs, Kaunas, Lithuania, knocked out Mexican southpaw Ramses Agaton, 17-3-3, 9 KOs, in round four of a scheduled eight round welterweight bout. Kavaliauskas dropped Agaton twice in the third and once for the count in the fourth. A powerful right hand was his primary weapon in the fight.  

"I was looking for that punch the entire fight," Kavaliauskas said. "When it landed, it just felt sweet."  The official time was 2:58.

2,828 attended the show which was promoted by Top Rank in association with Peltz Boxing.  




John DiSanto - Oxon Hill, MD - April 08, 2017