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Welterweight champion holds onto belt at Hard Rock

Martirosyan scores a unanimous decision against Ouma


Justin M. Bowen

Vanes Martiosyan throws a punch at Kassim Ouma during their NABO/NABF super welterweight title fight Saturday at the Joint inside the Hard Rock. Martiosyan won the fight by unanimous decision.

Boxing at the Joint-Vanes Martiosyan vs. at Kassim Ouma

Kassim Ouma throws a punch at Vanes Martiosyan during their NABO/NABF super welterweight title fight Saturday at the Joint inside the Hard Rock. Martiosyan won the fight by unanimous decision. Launch slideshow »

Boxing at the Joint-Steven Cox vs. Jose Benavidez Jr.

Jose Benavidez Jr. throws a punch at Steven Cox in their super lightweight fight Saturday at the Joint inside the Hard Rock. Benavidez Jr. won by TKO in the first round. Launch slideshow »

Undercard Results From Top Rank Live

  • Cruiserweight: Ismayl Sillakh def. Julius Jackson in first round KO
  • Super Featherweight: Diego Magdaleno def. Gerardo Robles in a unanimous decision
  • Swing Bout: Anthony Lenk def. Dusten Guillemin in a unanimous decision

Vanes "Nightmare" Martirosyan blamed it on himself.

After beating challenger Kassim Ouma in a unanimous decision, 97-93, on all three judges' scorecards Saturday night at The Joint inside the Hard Rock to retain his NABF and NABO welterweight championship belts, Martirosyan said he made the fight too close for comfort.

"I think it was on me," Martirosyan said. "I made the fight tougher than it should have been."

Still, Martirosyan (27-0) was able to keep his undefeated record intact in the main event of the first Top Rank Live! fight card. But many didn't expect Ouma, the 31-year old former champion, to push Martirosyan, 23, through the whole 10 rounds.

Ouma agitated Martirosyan throughout the fight with a strong left hand and landed just enough punches to keep the fight competitive. Ouma even knocked down Martirosyan in the ninth round.

"That wasn't a knock down," Martirosyan said defiantly. "I was off-balance. It didn't hurt. You saw how I got up."

After Martirosyan landed a flurry of punches in the round, Ouma caught him with a strong left jab that sent him to the ground — for a moment. Before the official could even start a count, Martirosyan jumped back up from his feet.

That was enough for all the judges to award the ninth round to Ouma, but not enough to take the victory.

Throughout the night, Ouma landed a decent number of punches. Martirosyan's shots, however, appeared to be substantially more powerful.

"He clearly won the fight," said Freddie Roach, Martirosyan's trainer. "He landed the big shots. I'm very happy, but his defense was poor. He just stood in front of him too much."

Roach's other pupil on the card, Jose Benavidez Jr., didn't have as much trouble. Benavidez, the 17-year old who Roach calls his top prospect, fought for less than a minute and a half in his professional debut.

That was all it took to knock out Steven Cox in the super lightweight bout. Benavidez knocked down Cox 30 seconds into the fight with a quick shot to the forehead and took care of the rest less than a minute later.

"The first round, I was going to try to work him and finish him off in the second," Benavidez said. "I wasn't expecting it to be this quick. But if you get that power shot, everything comes quicker."

Benavidez has cruised through the amateur ranks and won multiple Golden Gloves national championships during the last five years.

He said Saturday was an exciting start to his next step.

"I'm going to keep training hard," Benavidez said, "and hopefully one day, I will be a world champion."

Martirosyan also is going after a world championship. Holding onto his two title belts was a major step in making that happen — even if his performance wasn't perfect.

"We still won," Martirosyan said, "but there's a lot of things to learn."

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