IBF Cruiserweight champion Victor Emilio Ramirez (22-2-1, 17KOs) retained his title with a split decision draw against Ovill McKenzie (25-12-1, 13KOs) in Buenos Aires in the early hours of this morning.
The Jamican born, Derby based, British and Commonwealth Crusierweight champion McKenzie, 35 took the fight at short notice leaving him with approximately ten days to prepare for the monumental task of wrestling the title away from the champion in his hometown.
The odds were stacked against him but in a career that has earned him the nickname, ‘The Upsetter,’ many of the British fight press favoured an upset.
The fight was a clash of boxing styles, with McKenzie having success in the early rounds getting behind his jab and boxing from distance against the bullish champion, Ramirez.
McKenzie frustrated the champion tying him up and he had particular success in the second round landing an uppercut and big right hand combination.
In the opening stanza Ramirez seemed to struggle to find a way into the fight or land any effective punches. McKenzie continued to tie him up with his footwork, but in the fourth Ramirez landed a big right and had McKenzie under pressure.
Many of the rounds seemed close with both fighters trading shots but with neither boxer really dominating.
In the sixth, Ramirez landed an effective left had him on the ropes. and McKenzie retaliated with his own crunching combination.
By the second half of the fight Ramirez gained some momentum as he began pressurising McKenzie by cutting down the ring and landing his own punches. However his workrate was lacking and there was still a case to be made for McKenzie winning rounds with his jab and cleaner punching.
The closing rounds could have been scored either way. McKenzie rallied in the final two rounds but he looked tired and worn by the champion’s pressure tactics.
The judges scored it 115-113 for Ramirez, 115-113 for McKenzie and finally 114-114.
McKenzie should be respected for achieving this result given the circumstances. He will have enhanced his reputation and will have a legitimate claim for a rematch.