SAN DIEGO, March 5, 2016 – Welterweight Jessie Vargas put on the performance of his life Saturday, scoring an impressive ninth round TKO win over the previously unbeaten Sadam Ali.
The fight was fairly even through the first five rounds, with Ali putting together the better combinations while Vargas tried to rely on single power shots. Vargas stepped up the pace and passed Ali in the punch count at the midway point of the fight. In the sixth, Vargas staggered Ali and he staggered, falling into the ropes. It was not called a knockdown, but a replay showed Ali touching his glove down.
It ended up not being of any consequence. At the end of the eighth rough, Vargas nailed Ali with a snapping overhand right, a surprising show of power from a man with only nine knockouts to his name. Ali was rocked but since the punch came almost at the bell, he beat the count to make it back to his corner.
Ali’s trainer Andre Rozier asked him “Can you continue? Be smart, Sadam.” The minute between rounds wasn’t enough to allow Ali to gather himself.
Vargas knocked Ali down in the ninth with a right hand, and he once again beat the count but the clock was ticking. Vargas connected with another right and the referee had seen enough, calling the fight at 2:09 of the round. Vargas was elated at the stoppage. It was a smart call. Ali was taking a lot of punishment and there wasn’t any chance he would do enough to prevail in the end.
“This is what I have been working for all my life since I was eight year old, I became two-time world champion with a sensational KO on HBO,” Vargas told HBO’s Max Kellerman after the bout. Vargas said his new team including new trainer Dewey Cooper helped him put the power he always knew he possessed into play. “I always had the power, but wasn’t using it properly … I’m only 26 years old, I’m improving. Now it’s about getting the knockouts like Sadam Ali.”
Vargas still feels bitter about losing to Timothy Bradley Jr. last June, and surely as day follows night, Vargas called him out. “I want the rematch with Timothy Bradley … I wish him all the best, I have no hate toward him. But I do think I’ve earned my rematch.” We can assume Vargas will be rooting for Bradley to beat Manny Pacquiao on April 9, and he’s likely to get a ringside seat in Las Vegas.
Sadam Ali credited Vargas for the victory, but said he hurt his ankle in training and it was a factor. “I take nothing away from Vargas, he fought well, he caught me with a good shot. I’m just saying when I got hit, my ankle was messed up. He landed some good shots, just some shots I didn’t see. I was just a little off.”
Vargas landed more total punches, 159 of 429 (37 percent) to Ali’s 118 of 408 (29 percent). The pair landed an equal amount of power punches (93 for Ali, 95 to Vargas). It was Vargas who made his count.
Luis Ortiz (25-0, 22 KOs) scored a first round knockdown, but took his time before finally stopping District native Tony Thompson (40-7, 27 KOs) at the DC Armory in the sixth round. No Knockout of the Year in this fight as many hoped, but it was a solid performance from one of the rising stars in the refreshed heavyweight division.
Ortiz did the lion’s share of damage to Thompson with a big overhand left to the top of Thompson’s head. It’s a money punch. It put Thompson on the canvas with a minute left in the first round, and again at the end of the third round. After the fourth round, trainer Herman Caicedo told Ortiz “Don’t worry, don’t rush it.” Third time was the charm when Ortiz landed the same overhand left at 2:29 of the sixth round, and there was no reason for Thompson to continue.
Ortiz landed 88 of 250 total punches (35 percent) to just 43 of 221 punches for Thompson (19 percent). Ortiz landed 58 power shots; Thompson just 22.
Ortiz said of Thompson, “Remember, he’s a fighter who has lots of experience. My professionals told me in the corner not to worry, everything’s going to come in time.
You haven’t seen the best of King Kong, but I’m ready for anything, any distance … Hey, I’m good.”
Of the options available to him, who does Ortiz want? Fury? Klitschko? Wilder? Joshua? Parker? “People of real quality will give me a challenge. Whoever wants it, WBA, WBO, my managers, my team, I have the quality. And look at the ring, it’s full of blood, But it’s not my blood,” said Ortiz through translator Jerry Olaya.
Ortiz now has a mandatory defense against Alexander Ustinov of Russia (33-1, 24 KOs). It’s a possibility for the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan bout on May 7 in Las Vegas. Looking down the road later in the year, Ortiz could face the winner of the April 9 bout between American Charles Martin and Anthony Joshua for the IBF title, stripped from Tyson Fury and currently held by Martin. Australian heavyweight Lucas Browne won a tough battle over Russian Ruslan Chagaev earlier in the day. Browne now holds the WBA title. While most fans would love to see Ortiz against Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury, we will need to be patient and enjoy the reward of seeing these match-ups in another year or so.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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