(Bahodir Mamadjonov drops Angelo Santana; credit: Tom Casino, Showtime)
Reminiscent of the classic LL Cool J song, Bahodir Mamadjonov indeed said “knock you out” with a resounding stoppage of the previously undefeated Angelo Santana in the 9th round of their lightweight bout. It was the kind of fight typical of Showtime’s outstanding ShoBox series, where many prospects’ 0s must go. Santana left his at the Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas on Friday.
In the opening round, Santana backed fellow southpaw Mamadjonov about the ring, capitalizing off of the inactivity of “Baha.” A wide right by Mamadjonov (13-1, 9 KOs) was countered with a straighter jab from Santana that scored a flash knockdown. The apparent ease with which Santana was able to step inside Mamadjonov’s wheelhouse might have also caused “La Cobra” to be lulled into a false sense of security as the fight progressed.
The following two rounds were decidedly in favor of Mamadjonov, who began dictating the pace after loosening up from the knockdown. Santanta (14-1, 11 KOs), who was flat and still lobbing one punch at a time, was out-landed in the 4th round 19-5. Unable to set into a rhythm, Santana seemed dry and was forced to let his hands go more freely in the 5th and 6th to keep up with the pace of Mamadjonov. Halfway through the scheduled 12-round bout, the two were even with 40 landed power punches, but Mamadjonov held the advantage in total landed blows at 64-53.
Santana, still adjusting to the speed of the contest, seemed a beat behind the Uzbekistan fighter. At times, Mamadjonov landed at will, the Cuban fighter uncharacteristically out of position or failing to follow up on his jab. Though Santana was game, he oftentimes waited a fraction of a second too long to respond to Mamadjonov’s assault.
Double left hooks to the liver sent Santana to the canvas as he covered up on the ropes. The vicious shots landed with bad intentions, as if Mamadjonov smelled the kill of weakened prey. Though he beat the count, Santana’s body language was negative as it was obvious the belts to his midsection took their toll.
By the 9th, Mamadjonov had tired of sharpening his knife and went after his opponent’s liver with hungry ruthlessness, backing him into the corner with a barrage that sent Santana slithering downward. He beat yet another count, but it wasn’t long before Mamadjonov floored Santana again with a left hook upstairs. Bayless immediately waved off the fight as Santana simultaneously bounced up from his third knockdown. He protested accordingly, but he likely wouldn’t have made it to 10 anyway.
Mamadjonov landed more jabs (45-21), total punches (124-80) and power punches (79-59) than Santana.
Behind a textbook one-two, Amir Imam laid out Jeremy Bryan at 2:13 of the 2nd round in a junior welterweight co-feature. Bryan was out before his back slammed flat on the canvas, and referee Russell Mora didn’t bother to begin a count.
Never having broken the four-round threshold, Imam remained undefeated at 9-0 with 8 knockouts. But, as is often the case with protected new professionals, his statistics don’t tell his entire story.
To call Imam’s competition “soft” thus far would be an insult to powder puffs worldwide. Sporks have opened tougher tomato cans than his February and March opponents, who make the “Bum of the Month Club” of Joe Louis look like Canastota honorees with respective records 3-20-3 and 4-45-3. In all, Imam’s adversaries amassed 26 wins against 90 losses and 11 draws.
It also remains to be seen what kind of power Imam possesses — Bryan’s three losses have all come by knockout — but his punches get from point A to point B along a seam. The timer just ticked zero, and it’s time for Imam to take the logical next step up the rungs of the talent-laden 140-pound ladder.