Only one boxer looked the part of a world champion when Denis Lebedev faced off against Victor Emilio Ramirez for a cruiserweight unification bout on Saturday night at the Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow.
Lebedev (29-2, 22 KOs) overwhelmed Ramirez (22-3-1, 17 KOs) with a relentless barrage of power punches, retaining his WBA Super World cruiserweight title and adding Ramirez's IBF World title to his mantel with a second-round technical knockout win.
Bad Left Hook's Tom Craze reacted to the result:
English boxer Tony Bellew didn't think Ramirez was up to the standard of most top cruiserweights:
The match was bumped up to main event status after the heavyweight fight between Alexander Povetkin and Deontay Wilder fell through due to the former's positive drug test for meldonium.
Lebedev, second only to Grigory Drozd in Ring's cruiserweight rankings, has been in fine form since the horrific beating he suffered at the hands of Guillermo Jones in May 2013. Jones was eventually stripped of the WBA title for failing a drug test, with Lebedev regaining the belt in the process. The 36-year-old has now won four fights, three of them by stoppage, since that fateful night.
Ramirez's lackluster performance Saturday was perhaps unsurprising to those who witnessed his last bout. In October he managed only a split draw against late-replacement Ovill McKenzie.
After a cagey first round that went the Russian's way, Lebedev locked in on Ramirez in the second frame. A left hook to the jaw snapped Ramirez's head back in violent fashion, and the rout was on from there.
The veteran southpaw then got Ramirez to the ropes and hammered away with both hands. There was little in the way of a defense from the Argentine, and a long string of uppercuts capped off by another left hook to the chin sent him crashing to the mat.
Fight Ghost's assessment of Ramirez was hardly flattering:
Ramirez got back up, but he wasn't long for the bout. Lebedev battered away at him in the center of the ring, and Ramirez ended up stumbling toward the corner, looking thoroughly dazed and defeated.
Round by Round Boxing's Robert Aaron Contreras honed in on that part of the match:
Lebedev proceeded to trap him in the corner, using his right hand to essentially tee up Ramirez's head for some crushing left hooks.
Lebedev relented for the briefest of moments, which allowed the referee to step in and end the fight with just over one minute left in the round when he saw that Ramirez couldn't get his hands up in defense.
Bad Left Hook noted the fight could have been stopped sooner:
For Lebedev's next act, he could take on Beibut Shumenov, who is staying active with a fight against Junior Anthony Wright on Saturday. Should he win, Shumenov would take over the vacant WBA World cruiserweight title, which he hopes will earn him a date with Lebedev.
“I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to fight the Lebedev-Ramirez winner because it’s always been my goal to unify the titles,” Shumenov said, per BoxingNews24.com. "Lebedev has always been my target. Ramirez is the other fighter I’ve really wanted to fight and my manager tried to make a fight between us, too."
Lebedev can take that fight if he wants it, as he appears to be the class of the cruiserweight division.
He may be aging, but his tenacity and killer instinct against Ramirez showed he has plenty left in the tank.