Vanes Martirosyan dropped to a knee in the center of the ring at The Wynn in Las Vegas with blood gushing on his chest, the product of a devastating clash of heads. His fight with Erislandy Lara – the HBO main event – was competitive and Martirosyan was holding his own against one of the best junior middleweights in the world, quieting critics who say he never fought anyone and wasn’t in the same class as Lara.
But the scar tissue around Martirosyan’s left eye (where he has been cut three times prior) gave in once again and Jay Nady was forced to stop the bout on the advice of the ringside physician at 26 seconds of round nine.
It was an anticlimactic end to a competitive scrap, so it was only fitting that the fight was scored a draw, with scores of 86-85 for Martirosyan, 87-84 for Lara and 86-86 even. THE RING scored it 88-84 for Lara.
“It was a close fight, but he was running all night and this is not the amateurs, this is professionals,” said Martirosyan. “Freddie [Roach] was telling me to keep pressing the action and to keep pushing. He was running all night. He’s good from the amateurs and getting points and running. He’s kind of a dirty fighter, he got me with a low blow, a head-butt — he’s good with stuff like that.
“It sucks I had the head-butt, the plan was to come on later [because we know he tires]. 100 percent as soon as the stiches come out I want a rematch — 100 percent.”
Lara, who boxed beautifully at times and was finding a home for his overhand left, feels he clearly won the bout.
“Vanes is a good fighter, but I hit him with everything that I wanted to,” said Lara, the 2005 World Amateur champion at welterweight. “That was a head-butt, it happens in fights. He said I’m not a good fighter that I foul but they have never taken a point away from me in a professional fight. This is a Top Rank fight, he’s one of their fighters but I won this bout. We can continue the fight, 100 percent I want a rematch, but absolutely in the final rounds, I was going up and he was going down.”
Lara, THE RING’s No. 4 junior middleweight, started out with a range-finding jab, while Martirosyan jumped in with power shots, trying to break his rhythm. While Martirosyan loaded up, though, Lara landed straight punches at his midsection.
The 29-year-old Cuban landed a nice right upshot in the third round and followed up with a powerful right hook. He befuddled the hard-charging Armenian with deft movement and a crisp southpaw jab, but Martirosyan likely won rounds based on sheer aggression. Martirosyan was countered when he jumped in, but kept coming forward, walking his opponent down.
Lara (17-1-2, 11 knockouts) put Martirosyan, 26, in a fierce headlock and applied pressure in the third, drawing a warning from Nady. Martirosyan was enraged and he started throwing bombs afterwards.
Lara landed a big overhand left to Martirosyan’s head in the fourth round and then went back to boxing. Moments later, he landed an egregious low blow which floored Martirosyan, again drawing the ire of Nady.
Martirosyan (32-0-1, 20 KOs) landed a right cross and cut Lara over the left eye in the seventh, the first time he was cut in his professional career. Lara pawed at the cut but became more aggressive after, perhaps feeling a sense of urgency. He started finding a home for his overhand left in the round, flashes of his bout with Paul Williams where he consistently snapped his opponent’s head back.
A clash of heads opened up a nasty cut on Martirosyan’s left eye in the ninth and the matchup of top-five RING junior middleweights was given a sudden inconclusive and anticlimactic ending. Martirosyan showed he belongs at the top level in the bout and both fighters likely raised their stock in the fight. A rematch seems likely next year.
In the HBO co-feature, Mikey Garcia stopped Jonathan Barros in the ninth round. Garcia controlled the bout, but Barros got his attention with a big left hook in the eighth that stunned the undefeated featherweight. But in the next round, Garcia ended matters with an even bigger left hook of his own. Barros (34-4-1, 18 KOs) beat the count, but didn’t want to continue and told referee Robert Byrd “no mas.” Time of the stoppage was 2:24.
Garcia (30-0, 26 KOs) was originally slated to challenge Orlando Salido for his title on the card, but Salido pulled out weeks ago with a hand injury. Now, Salido and Garcia are on track for an early 2013 fight.
Photos / Chris Farina-Top Rank