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Ferdinand Kerobyan, Emilio Sanchez, Bektemir Melikuziev win in Pasadena

The prospects picked up wins in an action-packed night of fights.

Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Ferdinand Kerobyan bounced back from the first loss of his pro career with a wipeout win tonight over short notice opponent Daniel Evangelista Jr tonight in Pasadena, California.

Kerobyan (12-1, 7 KO) stopped Evangelista (20-11-2, 16 KO) in the second round, having dropped the 29-year-old Mexican journeyman four times, twice in the first and two more times in the second.

Kerobyan, 21, remains a very promising welterweight prospect. Five months ago, he lost a tight decision to Blair Cobbs, who can also fight, but some of that may well have been due to a cut suffered in the first round on an accidental headbutt. To even make it through the scheduled eight rounds that night was some good work and a lot of toughness, and it shouldn’t really hurt Kerobyan’s prospects a ton.

Here, Kerobyan was simply too strong for Evangelista, who is really probably a lightweight at best, but fought tonight at a 150-pound catchweight in place of Oscar Molina, who pulled out of the fight this week. Evangelista gave his best, winging shots and looking to fight, but he was not big or durable enough to stand up to Kerobyan, who landed too many good, clean shots.

Kerobyan is tentatively scheduled to return in about a month, and says he’ll be ready.

“I can do it now. I only fought two rounds,” he said. “I could get back in the ring next week. Whatever they say, I’m ready for it.”

Emilio Sanchez UD-8 Jose Gonzalez

Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos

Really good fight here, as Gonzalez (23-8-1, 13 KO) once again came in and gave a Golden Boy fighter some really good work, but Sanchez (18-1, 11 KO) proved to be the better man in the end, winning on scores of 77-75, 77-75, and 80-72. BLH had it 78-74 for Sanchez, a 25-year-old featherweight prospect who has now won three straight after an upset loss in March 2018.

Sanchez and Gonzalez had some good exchanges, both landed a fair amount of leather, and Sanchez just got the better of things. Sometimes a fight is really that simple — both guys fought pretty well and it was entertaining to watch.

Sanchez took a long break, having not fought since last November, and he didn’t have it easy here but got the job done, and had to dig in to do it, so it’s encouraging that he got the results. And Gonzalez, who gave Manny Robles III hell last November and went to a draw with Tino Avila in March, will surely be back on another one of these cards, because he keeps delivering in his role. He’s not easy for anyone on this level.

“I was trying to figure the guy out. Toward the end I listened to my coach Joel, and it turned out great,” Sanchez said after the fight.

Bektemir Melikuziev KO-1 Adrian Luna

Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos

Uzbekistan’s Melikuziev (2-0, 2 KO) made his pro debut on June 13, knocking out veteran Martin Fidel Rios in 99 seconds on a body shot. He was determined to do it quicker this time, but didn’t quite make it, as Luna lasted 2:13.

But Melikuziev was just hammering the hell out of Luna’s body, and if you’re a body puncher fan like I am, this guy’s for you. Melikuziev got him with a good left that backed Luna down, with Bektemir clearly expecting Luna to take the knee, but the Mexican didn’t, which was either brave or insane, maybe both. The next good one that landed, Luna (22-7-1, 14 KO) did take the knee, but he rose at nine. The next good one that landed, Luna was down dramatically, rolling around in pain, and that was it. After the fight, he reportedly had a one-word reaction to Melikuziev’s power to the body: “Wow.”

Melikuziev, 23, is definitely someone you want to keep tabs on. He won silver at Rio 2016 as a 20-year-old, losing in the final to the terrific Cuban Arlen Lopez. So he’s got high-level amateur experience, but still in his early 20s, too, so plenty of time to develop and get even better as a pro. He’s got that icy confidence that’s always fun to see, an air of intensity about him, and he’s trained by Joel Diaz.

There’s talk of him moving to 10-round fights next, and Melikuziev says that’s fine.

“Not a problem. 10 rounds is 10 rounds. For me there is no difference. I don’t think there’s many people who can go 10 rounds with me,” he said through an interpreter. He added that he’s looking to get a world title fight as soon as possible.

“He has devastating power. I don’t do mitts with him. I don’t want to end up hurting my shoulder at my age,” Joel Diaz said after the fight, stressing that he’s not joking or exaggerating. “He has a very effective body shot. He has a program, like he has a chip in him. As soon as you make a movement with your right hand, he’s got you.”

Diaz says he has Melikuziev sparring with heavyweights because fighters his own weight can’t give him enough rounds.

“He’s very special. He’s a body puncher. He’s programmed to hit you to the body from the beginning,” Diaz added. “As soon as he hits you to the body, he knows he’s got you.”

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