Three weeks ago, I interviewed KO specialist Victor Oganov for another publication, and he didn't act like the owner of a 100% knockout percentage.
I'm not certain how I'll do in my next fight, he told me, because I still have much to learn.
Oganov, a Russian, with a 26-0 record (26 Ks entering the fight) faced off with Fulgencio Zuniga, a Colombian with 19-2-1 (16 Ks coming in) in a super middleweight tussle at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington on Saturday evening on a ShoBox card.
Oganov proved prescient, as his basic defensive skills and inability to slow down the highly active Zuniga left him vulnerable to a ninth round assault and saddled him with his first pro loss.
Zuniga, now the IBO super middle champion, dropped Oganov with a short left hook in the final frame. He arose, but was unsteady, and Zuniga was not going to let opportunity slip away. Zuniga threw about twenty shots upon resumption, and the referee called a stop at 1:25 of the ninth, via TKO.
In the first round, the 31-year-old Oganov came out with gloves high, as the the 30-year-old Zuniga peppered him with an insistent jab. Z worked underneath the squat Oganov, who's based out of Australia. The heavy hitter scored a knockdown when he banged Zuniga onto the ropes, and ref said the ropes held him up. The scoring whack was a left that swept over the top of Z's head, and that knocked him off balance. The knockdown should've been ruled a push, probably.
In the second, Z got on his bike more, and fought effectively in retreat. O's D is a bit rudimentary, we see, consisting mostly of holding his mitts in front of his face.
In the third, Z piled up the points with volume, as Oganov patiently followed, eating a multitude of leather as he looked for a spot to land his heavy lefts.
In the fourth, we wondered whether Zuniga would keep up the pace or whether he'd falter long enough for the bomber to drop a payload. Nope, the answer was. The Colombian kept turning Oganov, popping, stepping, and popping again.
The fifth round saw Oganov press more, as he realized he needed to change the tone of the outing. O went southpaw for a sec, but that didn't help his cause. The distance between the two did shrink, so it looked like the opportunity for Oganov to land a mega shot might improve.
The sixth round saw O land a sharp right but Zuniga didn't blink twice. But the distance did close more in the seventh and it looked like Oganov's patience could still pay off.
In the eighth, new territory for Oganov, he kept moving forward, despite getting tagged repeatedly by the energetic Zuniga. He landed late, though, and Zuniga looked gassed at the tail end.
In the ninth, Zuniga sent Oganov to the canvas with a left. He held on for dear life, as Zuniga piled on, and forced the ref to step in, as he pitched forward, unable to defend himself. The knockout streak, we saw, was a bit of a mislabeling, but if you listened closely to Oganov coming in, he as much as admitted that.
He knew he hadn't been in with super-quality foes, that Zuniga would be a rough test, and that a victory, let alone a KO, was not a given.
Afterwards, he didn't look overly crushed. Perhaps a bit of weight of expectation has been lifted from his shoulders, and he can get back to the gym for some remedial work, and bounce back.
In the feature undercard attraction, James Kirkland (entering at 19-0, 16 Ks) met Mohammad Said (22-5-1, 14 Ks entering) in a junior middleweight scrap, scheduled for ten.
Kirkland scored a knockdown with fierce pressure just 15 seconds into the fight, and the lefty got another with a minute elapsed. Said scored two straight rights on the lefty, which didn't deter the 23-year-old. Said did well to exit the round on his feet. Kirkland scored another knockdown in the second and Said didn't stand in time. The stoppage shot, a straight left delivered with his back on the ropes, had Said on the deck, with clear eyes, but a crippled will. The time: 2:32 of the second.