Rafael Espinoza (22-0, 18 KOs) defied the odds to become the new WBO featherweight champion.

The Guadalajara native won a majority decision against two-time Olympic gold medallist Robeisy Ramírez (13-2, 8 KOs) to claim the belt. While one judge saw the fight a 113-113 draw, the other two had it 115-111 and 114-112 for Espinoza. The Mexican becomes a world champion for the first time in his career. For Ramírez, the loss ended a 13-fight win streak.

Espinoza believed he fractured his foot in round two. In addition to that, he was dropped in round five and stunned more than once. Despite this, he carried on to claim what is definitely one of the upsets of the year.

Rafael Espinoza Dramatically Defeats Robeisy Ramírez

Rafael Espinoza Wins on Volume

Ramírez began the fight on the outside, constantly moving to avoid – the punches of his opponent. Espinoza was throwing at a higher volume and started to have some success in round two. Both men fought at a closer range in the third. Although Ramírez avoided several shots from Espinoza, he was not having as much success landing his own. The opening four rounds could easily be scored for Espinoza.

In the closing seconds of round five, “El Tren” landed a looping right hand that sent Espinoza to the canvas. Although the Mexican got up, he was clearly stunned and had difficulty getting back to his corner. Espinoza was shaken once again in the seventh during the final 20 seconds but remained standing despite a barrage of punches from Ramírez.

Following the knockdown, Ramírez’s performance improved and he began winning rounds down the stretch. This did not deter Espinoza as he continued to throw a high volume of shots. This activity helped him to seal the fight on the scorecards.

In round 12, Espinoza scored a knockdown of his own as he sent Ramírez down with a barrage of shots in the final 30 seconds of the fight. Although Ramírez was hurt, he stayed on his feet till the final bell. Despite his work in the second half of the bout, it wound up being for nothing for “El Tren.”

Post-fight Comments: Rafael Espinoza

 “All I kept asking in my corner was ‘what round are we in? How many rounds do we have left? I know I have to drop him.’” Espinoza said to ESPN of his dramatic 12th round knockdown of the champ.

“I think I fractured my foot since the 2nd round. You know what kept me up? My daughter. My family. Because I’m a Mexican warrior, I knew I had to take this belt back to Mexico.”

Robeisy Ramírez

“I told you this was going to be a special night and my fans came out,” said Ramírez through an interpreter. “The Cuban fans, the Latin American fans, thank you very much. I owe you. I put my heart into this fight, but I have to give credit to my opponent this evening.” 

Undercard Results

Xander Zayas (18-0, 12 KOs) opened the ESPN telecast with a knockout over Jorge Fortea (24-4-1, 9 KOs). Fortea went down in the opening round itself. The Puerto Rican then ended the fight at the 1:37 mark of round five with a left hook to the body.

In a ten-round featherweight bout, Bruce Carrington (10-0, 6 KOs) stopped Jason Sanchez (16-5, 9 KOs) in the second round. The time of stoppage was 2:59. Sanchez went to the canvas twice before the fight came to an end.

Richard Torrez Jr. (8-0, 8 KOs) stopped Curtis Harper (14-11, 9 KOs, 1 NC) in an eight-round heavyweight clash. The time of stoppage was 2:03 of round eight.

Jahi Tucker (10-1-1, 5 KOs) and Francisco Veron (13-0-1, 10 KOs) fought to a majority draw in an eight-round super welterweight bout. While one judge had it 77-75 for Tucker, the other two had scores of 76-76 (x2).

In an eight-round super lightweight fight, Rohan Polanco (11-0, 7 KOs) stopped Keith Hunter (15-2, 9 KOs). Hunter was stopped standing at the 2:56 mark of round six.

Delante “Tiger” Johnson (11-0, 5 KOs) won a split decision over Jimerr Espinosa (15-2, 14 KOs) in an eight-round super lightweight bout. While one judge saw it 77-75 for Espinosa, the other two had scores of 79-73 and 78-74 for Johnson.

Damian Knyba (13-0, 7 KOs) opened the card with a unanimous decision win against Michael Coffie (13-5, 10 KOs). Scores for this eight-round heavyweight clash were 80-72 (x2) and 79-73.

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