ONE man’s misfortune is often another’s lucky break, which was certainly the case when a heavy ornament fell on Carl Frampton’s left hand, fracturing the fifth metacarpal, the week of his scheduled match with Emmanuel Dominguez. Rather than cancel the show at the Liacouras Center, promoter Top Rank move up what had been the chief supporting bout to main event status.
Nobody was happier about the situation than former secondary WBA super-featherweight title-holder Jason Sosa. He was having his third comeback fight after back-to-back losses to Vasyl Lomachenko and a controversial decision defeat to Yuriorkis Gamboa.
It was an impressive showcase for the 31-year-old Sosa. He knocked down Lydell Rhodes, an Oklahoma native fighting out of Las Vegas, thrice en route to a seventh-round stoppage victory (set for 10).
Rhodes did his best to smother Sosa’s aggression by repeatedly shouldering his opponent into the ropes, which resulted in a series of untidy tangles, inevitably ending in a clinch. That began to change in the third round when Sosa, a resident of nearby Camden, New Jersey, started banging the body with both hands, prompting chants of “Sosa, Sosa” from the small but enthusiastic crowd of 1,723.
After absorbing another body beating for most of the fourth, Rhodes rallied with a cluster of combinations to Sosa’s head as the round drew to a close. It turned out to be his last offensive gasp.
A left to the jaw sent Rhodes down on his back early in the fifth. He beat referee Benjy Esteves’ count, only to be dropped again later in the round when Sosa connect with a straight right to the chin. Rhodes bravely scrambled to his feet and finished the round.
An accidental clash of heads opened a cut over Sosa’s left eye in the sixth round, but it didn’t slow his attack. By the seventh the fight had turned into a rout. A left hook to the body knocked down Rhodes for the third time, and although he rose and tried to carry on, one of his handlers climbed onto the ring apron and told referee Esteves to stop the fight, which he did at the 1-08 mark of the round.
“I think we did everything we were supposed to do tonight. There’s room for improvement, but we’re a top contender now once again,” Sosa said. “I need a title. I want to call out [Miguel] Berchelt and get that WBC belt. Don’t forget about me. I’m here. I ain’t going nowhere. I’m a warrior, baby. I come to fight. I put on good fights. The fans see me and appreciate me.”
In a stunning upset, highly touted Cuban Robeisy Ramirez, a gold medallist at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, lost his professional debut to Denver’s Adan Gonzales in a four-round featherweight bout.
There was something about Gonzales’ demeanour that hinted of what was to come. He was a handpicked opponent, but the look on his face prior to the opening bell told you he had come to win.
Less than 30 seconds into the opening round, Gonzales knocked down Ramirez with a left hook to the head. Ramirez got up and fought on even terms the rest of the round.
Gonzales mixed his attack well, alternating between head and body, and you could tell Ramirez was feeling the effects. He rallied in the third, banging away to the body as if he finally realised he wasn’t an amateur anymore. He could not, however, turn the fight in his favour. Gonzales was busier in the final round, picking his spots and landing meaningful punches.
Judges Rose M. Lacend and Alan Rubenstein scored the fight for Gonzales by tallies of 40-35 and 39-36, respectively, while Dave Braslow came up with an absurd 38-37 for Ramirez. Gary Rosato officiated.
“When they announced a split decision, I knew I better have won that fight or something would have seriously been wrong,” Gonzales said. “I attacked him from the start, and I got the win. You ain’t seen the last of me.”
Popular South Philly heavyweight Sonny Conto was forced to go the distance for the first time in his brief pro career before emerging with his fourth straight win.
Opponent Guillermo Del Rio, of South Huston, Texas, didn’t have much going for him except stubborn courage. He had a flabby physique, especially around the waist, and was severely punished in every round.
Conto unleashed his full repertoire of punches, pounding away with jabs, uppercuts, hooks and beautifully straight right hands. His thudding body punches dug deep into Del Rio’s ample flesh, occasionally causing even ringsiders to flinch. Yet every time it looked like he would fold, Del Rio would punch back and move away. Unfortunately for him, his blows were not hard enough to do much damage.
A cracking left hook to the head finally floored Del Rio in the fourth and final round. He dragged himself erect and managed to make it to the final bell. The unanimous decision in Conto’s favour was a formality – all three judges saw it 40-35. Mr Esteves refereed.
Conto has a lot of tools and even more fans, but he has yet to fight anyone with even a remote chance of winning. Managers and promoters don’t like to take chances with boxers who sell a lot of tickets, but eventually Conto will have to be tested, and then we will find out if he’s really as good as his fans think.
The Verdict Frampton’s withdrawal likely hurt attendance, but probably by no more than a couple of hundred patrons. As he wasn’t fighting a well-known opponent or local boxer, expecting a big crowd was unrealistic.
Jason Sosa (129lbs), 23-3-4 (16), w rsf 7 Lydell Rhodes (130 3/4lbs), 27-4-1 (13); Adan Gonzales (125 1/4lbs), 5-2-2 (3), w pts 4 Robeisy Ramirez (125lbs) 0-1; Sonny Conto (214 1/2lbs), 4-0 (3), w pts 4 Guillermo Del Rio (225 1/2lbs), 2-3-1 (2); Edgar Berlanga (162 1/4lbs), 12-0 (12), w rsf 1 Gregory Trenel (162 1/4lbs), 11-5-2 (3); Donald Smith (126 1/2lbs), 10-0 (6), w pts 6 Raheem Abdullah, (124 1/2lbs), 3-3; Paul Kroll (147 3/4lbs), 5-0 (4), w pts 6 Shinard Bunch (146 1/2lbs), 2-1 (2); Jeremy Adorno (121 3/4lbs), 2-0 (1), w ko 3 Fernando Robles (121lbs), 2-2.