Murodjon Akhmadaliev overcame an injury to his left hand to turn up the heat and stop Ronny Rios in round 12, retaining his WBA and IBF junior featherweight titles in San Antonio.
The stoppage came officially with 54 seconds remaining in the fight. Rios (33-4, 16 KO) was surely down big on the cards — both of BLH’s unofficial cards had Akhmadaliev up 108-101 going into the final round — but he’d had chances to get more into the fight, he just didn’t execute.
Akhmadaliev (11-0, 8 KO) proved capable of hurting Rios, and while Rios had his moments, the bossing of the fight pretty much all came from the titlist from Uzbekistan.
Akhmadaliev had appeared to hurt his hand in the fourth round or so, it was confirmed that he for sure hurt it in the sixth, and then after the fight, he said it initially happened even earlier.
“In the second round, I hurt my hand. I landed on his forehead and hurt my hand. I used my front hand and it was very successful, but I was worried about the rest of the fight,” said Akhmadaliev through an interpreter. “But they told me they wanted me to stop him, so I let it go. There’s no 13th round, so if it’s going to get worse, we’ll recover after the fight.”
Akhmadaliev didn’t totally stop throwing his left hand until the seventh round, but he was still winning rounds, and as he said, decided to just let both go in the 12th round. He clubbed away at Rios, who finally took a knee, and then was finished standing not long after.
“Honestly, my corner told me to go ahead, you can finish him, just forget about the pain, don’t worry about the hand and we’ll worry about it later,” Akhmadaliev said. “I had to risk it a little bit, because Ronny is a warrior and had been in the fight.”
With interviewer Chris Mannix bringing up a possible undisputed fight with WBC/WBO titleholder Stephen Fulton Jr, MJ said, “I’m ready for anyone. Any fight. It doesn’t matter to me. Whatever Eddie Hearn says, we’ll go that way.”