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Vergil Ortiz Jr. Wins By Referee’s Ineptitude, Barroso Stops Davies In 1 Round

Vergil Ortiz Jr. Wins By Referee's Ineptitude, Barroso Stops Davies In 1 Round featured image
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 06: Vergil Ortiz Jr. (L) lands a punch on Fredrick Lawson (R) on January 06, 2024 at The Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cris Esqueda/Golden Boy/Getty Images)

Boxing’s first weekend of the new year saw Vergil Ortiz Jr. maintain his 100% KO ratio against Fredrick Lawson with a stoppage victory in the first round, though this result seemed to be a premature decision by the presiding referee, Tony Weeks, who had drawn much criticism in 2023 for a similar decision during Rolly Romero’s bout with Ismael Barroso. Ortiz and Lawson main-evented at the Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 6th.

Vergil Ortiz Jr. (20-0, 20 KO’s) failed to make a statement against Fredrick Lawson (30-4, 22 KO’s) despite dominating the first round. While the American fighter looked eager to mark his first-time debut at super welterweight with a win, his victory was completely railroaded by referee Tony Weeks who stopped the fight in the first round after deeming Lawson to be taking too much damage.

Whether the stoppage was warranted is highly contentious given the first round saw Ortiz largely dominate yet not completely crush Lawson who appeared to be dealing quite well with Ortiz’ punches; despite the heavy pressure on him. The fight, that went on for nearly the full three minutes, did not show Lawson receive any debilitating punches as he blocked the majority of Ortiz’ shots.

In the closing thirty seconds of the round, Ortiz had pinned Lawson to the ropes and was ripping loose several dangerous shots; most of which were blocked and others that missed. In the midst of Ortiz launching vicious combinations, referee Tony Weeks suddenly stepped in to officially stop the match and therefore rule the match as a technical knockout victory in Ortiz’ favor.

While Ortiz officially became the winner by TKO in the first round, the surprise by the commentary and the boos from the crowd showed how controversial Weeks’ decision was, and Lawson and his team heavily complained in their corner in the aftermath of the conclusion of the bout.

Weeks’ decision shows jarring similarities towards one he hade during the Romero-Barroso fight which saw Rolando Romero (15-1, 13 KO’s) win by stoppage all while Venezuelan fighter Ismael Barroso (25-4-2, 23 KO’s) had been up on the cards and was facing an onslaught of punches from Romero that did not actually seem to be hurting him. In similar fashion as to last weekend, Tony Weeks stopped the match prematurely during the Romero-Barroso bout, ruining what had seemed to be a clear win for Barroso who had been up on all of the judges’ scorecards.

The co-main event between Ismael Barroso and British contender Ohara Davies (25-3, 18 KO’s) for the WBA interim super lightweight title saw a genuine upset occur. Barroso, who was considered the one-to-three underdog as to opposed to Davies who was considered the favorite by five-to-one, stunned the crowd as he stormed to a first-round stoppage win to claim the interim title.

Vergil Ortiz Jr. Wins By Referee's Ineptitude, Barroso Stops Davies In 1 Round image 1
Betting odds for Ismael Barroso and Ohara Davies as compiled by

As with most first rounds, nothing much happened other than the two fighters warming up to each other and looking to gauge their range of attacks. Few shots were thrown by both fighters but it became clear in the first two minutes that Ismael Barroso was going to adopt a pressure-form of fighting while Ohara Davies seemed to be still figuring out whether he was going to box with Barroso or engage with him directly.

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 06: Ismael Barroso (L) lands a punch on Ohara Davies (R) on January 06, 2024 at The Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cris Esqueda/Golden Boy/Getty Images)

Davies opted for the latter at some point, and in the ninetieth second of the round an attempt to hit Barroso with a body shot heavily backfired as Barroso countered with a stunning left from the southpaw position that dropped Davies.

Davies got up quickly, but clearly wasn’t in the shape to fight anymore as Barroso continued his assault seconds after to drop Davies for a second time. While Davies did got up in time again, the referee saw he did not respond well to his inquiries after the second knockdown and the match was called off by the referee; making Barroso the winner by technical knockout or stoppage.

Now that Barroso has claimed the WBA interim title, he will be looking for a rematch with Rolando Romero whom he had been winning against prior to Tony Weeks’ premature stoppage decision. Romero’s current status is completely mystifying, however, as he is said to be out due to an injury without any return date set for him.

Regardless of whether Barroso will fight Romero or not, there will likely be many opportunities lurking for him as he just identified himself as a legitimate threat in the division following his surprising victory over Davies who had been expected to win by almost a landslide. His WBA interim champion status has also put a target on his back as other contenders might not be so daunted to face Barroso and his now-famed power as beating him will get them an opportunity to fight a world champion.

The rest of the event, promoted and organized by Golden Boy Promotions and broadcasted by DAZN, saw a third 140 lbs contender win successfully as American fighter Arnold Barboza Jr. (29-0, 11 KO’s) maintained his unbeaten winning streak with a stoppage victory over South African contender Xolisani Ndongeni (31-4, 18 KO’s) in the eight round of their ten-round match.