Art Hovhannisyan didn’t bring the non-stop pressure expected of him in the scouting report, but he brought it often enough to score the biggest win of his career on Friday night.
The Armenian slugger relied on his power to edge out a split 10-round decision over former WBA lightweight titleholder Miguel Acosta in the main event of this week’s ShoBox: The New Generation offering from the Chumash Resort and Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif.
Judge Raul Caiz Jr. scored the bout 96-92 in favor of Acosta, but both Abe Belardo and Marty Denkin saw it 95-93 for Hovhannisyan.
Hovhannisyan (15-0-2, 8 knockouts) clobbered Acosta with a sweeping right hand near the end of the first round, and the former beltholder barely regained his senses to the point that referee Marcos Rosales would allow him to continue.
After the opening stanza though, Hovhannisyan’s activity dropped considerably, and he began to control rounds based on Acosta’s inactivity, and the sheer velocity of the few shots he did throw. Acosta (29-6-2, 23 KOs) simply spent the better part of three rounds following the knockdown circling and trying to find a comfortable range.
The fight took a significant turn in the fifth, as Acosta landed a roundhouse right of his own, which buckled Hovhannisyan’s knee and caused his left glove to touch the mat, enough for a knockdown.
From there, Acosta, 34, of Caracas, Venezuela, started to make use of his jab and controlled distance forcefully, rather than simply maneuvering around the ring maintaining it. From rounds six through nine, it looked very much as though Acosta was controlling the pace of the action, and quite possibly winning the rounds.
In the final round, the 30-year old Hovhannisyan forced the issue and tried to instigate a brawl, closing the distance once again and landing a few hard body shots. It wasn’t necessarily pretty work, but he didn’t allow Acosta to do anything that might catch the judge’s attention either.
Hovhannisyan, Glendale, Calif. by way of Armenia, showed that he is a competent boxer, one who can be patient and hang with a dedicated mover in the ring. His handlers may have liked to see him pick up the tempo a little more often, the way he did in his last ShoBox outing against Archie Ray Marquez, but certainly the same could be said about his opponent.
One has to wonder if the gruelling action fight and subsequent vicious knockout Acosta suffered at the hands of Brandon Rios might have been a true career altering outing. Since then, the once feared boxer-puncher has appeared to have lost his punch resistance, and has seemed hesitant to throw combinations the way he once did.
What he didn’t lose is veteran savvy and the knowledge of how to survive, as he managed to shake off a hard knockdown and still give a fringe lightweight contender a tough outing with whatever he has left.
In the broadcast opener, super bantamweight prospect Roman Morales scored an exciting, yet one-sided unanimous decision over Alexis Santiago. Scores were 79-72 and 80-71 (twice).
Morales (11-0, 6 KOs) immediately took control in the early rounds, scoring with lead right hands regularly. Santiago seemingly decided at the beginning of the third round that he needed to close distance and become the aggressor if he had any hope of hanging around, but Morales threw a wrench in those plans immediately.
Santiago (11-3-1, 5 KOs) leaned in and got caught with a right uppercut that sent him to the canvas in the third round. However, aside from a right hand that buzzed him at the end of the fourth round, the Phoenix, Ariz. was never in severe trouble the rest of the night.
Throughout the contest, Morales, 23, San Ardo, Calif. employed a solid body attack, but it was when he went low that his opponent had the most success countering him with short hooks upstairs. Regardless, he remained poised and moved forward even while taking flush shots, a very positive sign for a young fighter.
Follow Corey Erdman on Twitter @corey_erdman