Murodjon Akhmadaliev outpoints tough, but overmatched Jose Velasquez

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Murodjon Akhmadaliev had to work a full shift but dominated his opponent on the Demetrius Andrade-Jason Quigley card Saturday in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Akhmadaliev picked apart late-replacement opponent Jose Velasquez from the opening bell to win a near-shutout decision in defense of his IBF and WBA junior featherweight titles.

All three judges scored it 119-109, 11 rounds to one. Boxing Junkie had the same tally.

Akhmadaliev (10-0, 7 KOs) was scheduled to face veteran Ronny Rios but Rios had to pull out after testing positive for COVID-19 a week ago. Velasquez (29-7-2, 19 KOs), who had been training for a fight next month, agreed to step in.

Many observers assumed that the obscure Chilean wouldn’t last long in the fight but he surprised everyone, including Akhmadaliev, with his durability.

The U.S.-based 2016 Olympic bronze medalist from Uzbekistan used superb foot work to stay in perfect position to play the sharpshooter, landing precise, hard shots from beginning to end to win the fight going away.

However, Akhmadalev, a big puncher, was unable to hurt a remarkably tough opponent who never stopped trying.

Velasquez’s best moment came in Round 7, when he seemed to hurt Akhmadaliev with a body shot and tried to capitalize. However, he spent most of the fight eating hard shots and chasing a better boxer and athlete.

What’s next for Akhmadaliev?

WBO 122-pound titleholder Stephen Fulton and WBC champ Brandon Figueroa are scheduled to meet in a unification bout on Nov. 27. If he wins, Fulton has said he’d like to fight Akhmadaliev next for the undisputed championship. Figueroa, having trouble making weight, said he will move up after facing Fulton.

Akhmadaliev also said he wants to honor his commitment to defend against Rios. That fight could come next.

In another undercard fight, Kali Reis (19-7-1, 5 KOs) defeated Jessica Camara (8-2, 0 KOs) by a split decision to successfully defend her WBA junior welterweight title and add the vacant WBO belt.

Reis is expected to face IBF and WBC titleholder Chantelle Cameron for the undisputed championship next year.