Sunday, September 24, 2023  |



Paddy Barnes considers retirement after surprise loss to Oscar Mojica at MSG

Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Fighters Network

Oscar Mojica earned a hard fought split decision victory over Paddy Barnes on the undercard of Michael Conlan’s third consecutive St. Patrick’s Day appearance at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City.

The official scores at ringside were 58-56 on two cards for Mojica and 58-56 for Barnes, much to the chagrin of the sold out partisan Irish crowd who cheered every move Barnes made. 

One minute into the opening round Barnes who goes by the ‘Leprechaun’ had a splattering of red on him when the Texas native Mojica (12-5, 1 knockout) busted up Barnes’ nose with a straight jab. Attempting to get back in the win column after a knockout loss last year to then-WBC flyweight titleholder Cristofer Rosales, Barnes (5-2, 1 KO) could only watch and swallow as blood continued to flow from his nose.

Mojica got the better of the Belfast fighter, who came out of his dressing room to a raucous ovation to sounds of U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” The song was apropos as Barnes’ face continued to morph into a bloody mess as the bout went on. 

In the second round Mojica landed a perfectly placed body shot which dropped Barnes to the canvas, shades of the shot Rosales put him down with in August, but the referee called it a slip and allowed Barnes a few crucial seconds to recover. As the action resumed a badly hurt Barnes was swinging for the fences with all of his might to keep Mojica off of him. The Texan just didn’t have enough muster to put Barnes away.

The two-time Irish Olympic bronze medalist recovered enough in the third round to push Mojica back as they traded bruising shots. Mojica didn’t go back to the body but allowed Barnes to land some flush body shots of his own to slow Mojica down. Barnes had another good round in the fourth as the speed of the bout was beginning to wane on Mojica and he couldn’t exchange at the rate they were slugging it out in the earlier rounds. 

Mojica regained control in fifth round by pressing the action against the 31-year-old Barnes who was trying to find his footing and land on Mojica with everything he has. Barnes had Mojica badly hurt in the sixth and final round which was by far his best moment of the bout. Mojica was pressed up against the ropes and managed to cover up and clinch to avoid going down. Barnes took a deep breath and broke free of Mojica and tried to land another hard-right hand but Mojica covered up again and survived the round. 

Immediately after the stunning loss, Barnes told ESPN he will consider retirement after sustaining two consecutive defeats. 

Josue Vargas dominates Adriano Ramirez

Local fan favorite Josue Vargas from The Bronx (13-1, 8 KOs) dominated Adriano Ramirez (10-3, 6 KOs) to win an entertaining yet one-sided, eight round unanimous decision. The official scores at ringside were 80-72 on all three cards.

The 20-year-old Vargas continues the maturation process going from a free-swinging prospect to a poised young veteran took his time and picked Ramirez apart barely breaking a sweat until the third round. It now feels like a lifetime ago when Vargas was disqualified in a bout against Samuel Santana at the latter end of 2016 in Las Vegas when the then 18-year-old hit Santana in the back of the head several times. Vargas was signed to Mayweather Promotions back then and has since won eight in a row, including four by knockout before this decision victory. Last year Vargas signed a promotional contract with Top Rank after a public falling out with Floyd Mayweather caused Vargas to seek the separation.

Vargas, who was in camp with Mikey Garcia helping him prepare for the Errol Spence bout, had Robert Garcia in his corner as he systematically dominated and outclassed Ramirez in front of friends and family at The Garden. The crafty southpaw picked his parts carefully and surgically tore through Ramirez’ guard toching him at will. Vargas’ best moments came in the middle rounds as the awkward Ramirez realized he had no shot of landing anything significant against Vargas, who moved well from side to side while landing his jab effortlessly.  

Vargas, perhaps feeling his four-bout knockout streak was in jeopardy, turned up the notch in the seventh and eighth rounds looking to knock Ramirez out. By the midway point of the final round despite the calls from the crowd to continue pressing ahead, Vargas settled back in and used his jab to ensure Ramirez stayed at a safe distance and keep the one-sided victory secure. 

Highly touted super lightweight prospect John Bauza (12-0, 5 KOs) defeated Ricardo Maldonado (8-9, 1 KO) by a six round unanimous decision. The official scores at ringside were 60-54 on all three cards. 

Making his debut as a Top Rank fighter, the 20-year-old Puerto Rican southpaw brilliantly used his right-handed-jab to bust Maldonado’s nose wide open turning Maldonado’s white trunks a crimson red. Bauza hurt Maldonado several times in the bout and patiently showed great restraint to not swing for the fences, but rather continue to walk his man down and avoid careless mistakes.

In the fourth round Bauza unloaded four consecutive right hooks badly hurting Maldonado along the ropes. As the seconds wound down to end the round Bauza leaned in to throw another crushing lead, right-hand before the referee jumped in at the end of the round. In the final round Maldonado, badly bleeding was in survival mode and fortunately for him was able move away from Bauza long enough to finish the bout on his feet.  

Russian Olympian Vladimir Nikitin (3-0) defeated Juan Tapia (8-3, 3 KOs) by a six round majority decision. The official scores at ringside were 57-57 and 59-55 twice.

The 28-year-old Nikitin moved a step closer to his very own meaningful fight, which is will be a rematch with Conlan, whom he defeated in a controversial decision at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. Top Rank has paired Nikitin and Conlan twice now in an effort to build Nikitin into a viable opponent for Conlan, whom has stated that extracting revenge from Nikitin is as much a priority for him as winning his first world title is. 

Nikitin used his slick movement to gain an advantage over the flat-footed Tapia who was not able to catch up with the Russian fighter. Nikitin had his best moments in the fourth round when he was able to work behind the jab and keep Tapia off balance and susceptible to Nikitin’s right hand. Nikitin landed a well-timed three punch combination to end the round and stun Tapia. In the few instances when Nikitin seemed to be in control he was too tentative allowing Tapia an opportunity to get back in the fight. 

In the final round Nikitin seemed to lose gas and was lowering his head often enough to get caught by a Tapia’s right hook opening up a gash over Nikitin’s left eye. Nikitin did enough in the early rounds to secure the victory tho the bout was much closer than it needed to be. Nikitin is coming off decision victory over Clay Burns last October in Las Vegas while the 25-year-old Tapia lost a decision to Shakur Stevenson thirteen months ago in Reno, Nevada. 

In lightweight action Joseph Adorno improved to 12-0, 10 KOs with a six-round unanimous decision victory over Victor Rosas (10-9, 4 KOs). The official scores at ringside were 58-54 x 3. 

The 19-year-old Adorno dropped Rosas in the fifth round with a vicious, counter-left hook. Rosas managed to beat the count but moments later spit his mouthpiece out for the third time in the bout prompting the referee to take a point away making it a 10-7 round for Adorno.

Rosas had his own moments in the bout landing looping right hands when Adorno had his hands down especially in the second and third rounds. Adorno’s constant head hunting allowed Rosas to land his own shots to win some rounds from Puerto Rican fighter who now resides in Allentown, PA. The former amateur standout is now trained by Robert Garcia and Ironically refers to himself as the “Irish-Rican” much to the delight of the St. Patrick’s Day crowd. 

Adorno is coming off a fourth-round TKO of Luis Gerardo Avila last November in Puerto Rico, where Adorno’s family moved after he turned one years old. Adorno moved to Pennsylvania when he was ten and embarked on a decorated amateur career winning 178 of 200 bouts including the PA Golden Gloves and a bronze medal at 2016 National Golden Gloves.    

In the opening bout of the evening Irish welterweight prospect Lee Reeves (3-0, 2 KOs) scored a four-round-unanimous decision over Eduardo Torres (1-2). The official scores at ringside were 40-36 across the board. 

The 24-year-old Reeves landed his heavy-handed left hand at will busting Torres’ nose in the third round and kept Torres missing with his own punches. Reeves had Torres in trouble in the second and third rounds battering him along the ropes narrowly scoring a stoppage. This is the first appearance in the United Stated for the Limerick native, who is coming off a first round stoppage of Maged Hammo last December. Reeves won eight Limerick youth championships and is a two-time Irish underage champion.