Late substitute and huge underdog Bahodir ‘Baha’ Mamadjonov (12-1-0, 8ko), of Houston, Texas by way of Uzbekistan, overcame an early knockdown to register three of his own en route to stopping previously unbeaten Angelo ‘La Cobra’ Santana (14-1-0, 11ko), of Miami, Fla, at 0:51 of the ninth round Friday to capture the WBA international lightweight championship in the main event of an exciting doubleheader on ShoBox: The New Generation.
In the co-feature of a Don King Productions-promoted event at Treasure Island Resort & Casino, promising super lightweight Amir ‘Young Master’ Imam (9-0-0, 8ko), of Albany, New York, remained unbeaten with a devastating second-round knockout over Jeremy Bryan (16-2-0, 7ko) of Paterson, New Jersey. A left hand followed by a colossal right to the chin finished Bryan at 2:13. Bryan was out cold before he hit the canvas. It was Imam’s eighth knockout victory in a row, all inside four rounds.
Mamadjonov, who took the fight on about a week’s notice, went down from a jab in the second round but stormed back to deck the favored WBA number three ranked Santana once nearing the end of the eighth round from a flurry of blows and a body shot and two more times in the ninth from a combination of punches before the referee stepped in and stopped it. Entering what would be the final round of a great action fight, Baha led by the scores of 76-74 on all three scorecards. It was 66 apiece after six rounds.
“Both fights served as a reminder that when you’re dealing with prospects nothing can be taken for granted,” ShoBox expert analyst Steve Farhood, who called the fights alongside blow-by-blow announcer Barry Tompkins and former World Champion Raul Marquez, said afterward.
“On paper the opening bout looked like a distance fight and if you had told me the main event would end in a knockout I would have been pretty certain that the winner would have been Santana. But the ShoBox mission statement is not just to advance prospects, but to occasionally expose them as well.”
Baha executed his game-plan to near perfection. Going into the battle of southpaws he said the keys were to be aggressive, jab a lot, work the body and not allow the hard-hitting Santana to set down on his punches. Baha, who became more offensive-minded as the match progressed, also did an effective job of tying up Santana, who seemed to get increasingly frustrated as the bout wore on.
“Santana kept looking for that one big shot,” said Marquez, a ShoBox expert anaylst. “Why? Because he was used to landing it and having guys go down. He only had a Plan A, no B, C or D. Baja really frustrated Santana with the holding but it was the body shots that really did him in at the end.”
Baha, who also counter-punched well throughout, outlanded Santana 12-0 in the last round. “One week notice and I win by that kind of knockout!” a jubilant Baha said. “The first couple of rounds Santana was difficult to figure out but once I did I just got more aggressive. The hard work paid off. I came to the United States to be a champion. I want to win a world title and this was the first step. I’m just starting. It’s going to be one belt at a time.
“Santana hits really hard and I respect him but I could see he was getting tired in the sixth round after I hit him with a body shot.”
Santana disputed Kenny Bayless’ decision to halt the proceedings. “The referee stopped the fight. I tell you I was still in it. I landed two big left hands earlier in the round. We were in a good fight and it should have continued. Nothing against Baha, he’s a good fighter, but I want a rematch.
“The last knockdown came on a slip. I slipped after throwing a punch.”
Imam easily won what was expected to be his most difficult fight. “I had to figure him out in the first round,” he said. “I doubled up my jab in the second round and hit him with the big right that starched him. Some would say I took too big of a bite but I was composed, relaxed and knew what I had to do.
“Line ‘em up and I’ll knock them down.”
Said Bryan, who was taken to a nearby hospital for precautionary reasons: “” don’t really feel like talking because I still feel a little woozy. I expected so much more. I trained so hard. This is very disappointing. I had a lot going on. This was my first big fight on TV since 2004. I had a good fan base that came in for the fight. I think I got a little over-anxious and it cost me but I am a warrior. I’ve come back before and I’ll come back again.”