Head butt spurs draw for Martirosyan, Lara

Vanes Martirosyan and Erislandy Lara fought for eight-plus rounds Saturday night at Wynn Las Vegas and settled nothing.

Their 12-round WBC junior middleweight eliminator was stopped 26 seconds into the ninth round after an accidental head butt opened a deep gash over Martirosyan’s left eye and he was unable to continue.

Under Nevada rules, the fight went to the scorecards, and it was ruled a technical draw. Judge Jerry Roth had Martirosyan winning 86-85, Ricardo Ocasio had Lara ahead 87-84, and Dave Moretti had it 86-86.

The winner was supposed to meet WBC champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in the spring. But because of Saturday’s outcome, Alvarez became the big winner. The draw allows him to pursue a big-money fight, perhaps with Floyd Mayweather Jr., without fear of the WBC stripping him of his belt.

Both fighters said the head butt was unintentional.

“We both went in to punch, and our heads came together,” Lara said through an interpreter. “It happens all the time in boxing.”

Said Martirosyan: “It’s no one’s fault. We came together, and I felt dizzy.”

Lara (17-1-2) started slowly, and Martirosyan was all over him. But a lot of his punches missed, as reflected by the final Punchstats. Martirosyan (32-0-1) connected on 14 percent of his punches compared with Lara’s 29 percent.

“He was running all night,” Martirosyan said. “He was tough to catch. That’s all he did.

“I felt great about how I fought. The plan was to go after him.”

Freddie Roach, who trains Martirosyan, wished his fighter had kept closer contact with Lara.

“Distance was a problem,” Roach said. “Vanes got too far away, and he started missing, and Lara was able to counter him.”

Lara said it was a matter of finding his rhythm.

“I was wearing him down, and it was just going to be a matter of time,” he said. “After the second round, I started to get to him.”

Both fighters said they’ll welcome a rematch.

“One hundred percent,” Martirosyan said. “As soon as the stitches come out, we want a rematch.”

Said Lara: “We’ll fight right now. I’ll be glad to give him a rematch.”

In the co-feature, Mikey Garcia dominated Jonathan Barros in businesslike fashion, finishing him with a huge left hook 2:24 into the eighth round to improve to 30-0 with the technical knockout in the featherweight bout.

“I wanted to win every round; that was the main goal,” said Garcia, who recorded his 26th knockout. “I wasn’t looking for the knockout, but when I hit him with that left hook, I knew he was hurt.”

Garcia used his left jab effectively, keeping Barros at a safe distance while also scoring with it. Barros had a tough time landing anything effective over a sustained period.

“We work on the jab for every fight,” Garcia said. “It was about staying patient and waiting for the opening.”

Barros (34-4-1) was stunned with the way the fight ended. “I’ve never been down before,” he said.

On the undercard, Las Vegas super bantamweight Jesse Magdaleno treated himself to a belated birthday present with a first-round knockout of Jose Silveira to remain undefeated.

Silveira (14-9) tried to pressure Magdaleno early, but Magdaleno (12-0, nine knockouts) wisely kept his distance, and when Silveira gave him an opening late in the round, Magdaleno took it. He landed a nifty five-punch combination highlighted by a straight left hand to the face.

Another flurry dropped Silveira, and with time winding down, referee Kenny Bayless counted him out at 2:59.

“I didn’t want to be careless because I knew he was a tough guy,” said Magdaleno, who turned 21 Friday. “But once I hit him with that left, I knew he was hurt.”

Las Vegas heavyweight Brett Rather, making his local debut after turning pro in July, improved to 2-0 with a four-round majority decision over Avery Gibson (0-2-2). Judges Duane Ford and Moretti had Rather ahead 39-37, and Dick Houck had it 38-38.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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