In a thrilling fight in the main event of an exciting doubleheader Friday on ShoBox: The New Generation live on SHOWTIME®, unbeaten Art Hovhannisyan (15-0, 8 KOs), of Glendale, Calif., turned back a determined bid by former World Boxing Association (WBA) lightweight champion Miguel Acosta (29-6-2, 23 KOs), of Caracas, Venezuela, to win a hard-fought 10-round split decision.
In the co-feature at Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, Calif., talented, unbeaten super bantamweight Roman Morales (11-0, 6 KOs), of San Ardo, Calif., registered an impressive eight-round unanimous decision over Alexis Santiago (11-3-1 5 KOs), of Las Vegas, Nev.
Hovhannisyan, making his first start in 11 months, was victorious in a hard-hitting, fast-paced scrap by the scores of 95-93 twice and 92-96. Each slugger went down one time, Acosta late in the opening round, Hovhannisyan in the fifth.
“Both (blow-by-blow announcer) Barry (Tompkins) and I said that this was the kind of fight that you could make a case for for either guy,” ShoBox expert analyst Steve Farhood said afterward. “It was a great, interesting fight. It could have ended early (after Hovhannisyan dropped Acosta with a sweeping overhand right hand with approximately 10 seconds to go in the first round). If the knockdown had come earlier in the round it might have since Acosta seemed like he was saved by the bell.
“But, ultimately, he wasn’t saved by the judges.”
Hovhannisyan, 30, was a tad surprised at the scoring. “I knew it was a little close, but I definitely thought I won,” he said. “After I dropped him, I kept trying for the spectacular knockout. My corner was telling me between rounds to calm down, but I thought I had him for sure. He was lucky the bell rang when it did.
“I’m very happy to get the win. Acosta can still fight. I think my conditioning played a great role in my performance, but at this level you need to be good in all facets. This fight was definitely a great learning experience for me.”
The more experienced Acosta, 34, who moved well throughout and decked Hovhannisyan with an overhand right hand, thought he’d done enough to get his hand raised. “I was very sure I won,” he said. “Although he caught me in the first round I landed more punches throughout the fight. I knew my conditioning was good and it would carry me though the fight. I felt I was robbed.”
Among those rooting on Hovhannisyan was popular women’s Mixed Martial Arts superstar, Ronda Rousey, who trains at the same Glendale gym as the boxer and has the same trainer, Edmond Tarverdyan.
“Fighting is a lot less nerve wracking that just sitting and watching,” said Rousey, who was interviewed between fights and will be the subject of the latest “ALL ACCESS” on SHOWTIME before her next fight. “I’d much rather be the one in there. But I’m really happy for Art.”
“ALL ACCESS: Ronda Rousey” premieres on Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT. Rousey defends her STRIKEFORCE bantamweight championship against Sarah Kaufman on Saturday, Aug. 18, on SHOWTIME.
Morales, 23, scored a knockdown in the third en route to winning by the scores of 80-71 twice and 79-72. Going eight rounds for the first time in a career that began in February 2011, the switch-hitting Morales showed excellent poise and composure in his ShoBox debut, and appears to be a prospect to watch.
“I thought this was a good performance,” he said. “I’m glad I could go eight hard rounds because that is what I expected. I got a little tired but I knew I had to keep working. I’ll be back in the gym soon and I’ll be ready to fight whoever my team wants me to.”