In a major upset, undefeated puncher Kerman Lejarraga gave up his European welterweight crown after losing by technical knockout in the ninth round to bug underdog, and former WBA interim-beltholder, David Avanesyan.
The fight took place at the Bilbao Arena, packed with 10,000 fans who witnessed a shocker.
The referee stopped the fight with only thirty seconds left in the ninth round after Avanesyan unleashed a devastating series of punches on the face of an already battered Lejarraga, who despite taking a pounding was trying to continue the fight solely with bravery.
The Armenian-born boxer proclaimed himself a new champion after a fierce fight in which he was able to withstand the early storm in the first three rounds and then from fourth, began punish Kerman with his defensive gaps.
In that fourth round, Avanesyan landed on Kerman with a right to the chin that sent him down to the canvas. Lejarraga, after beating the count, barely found answers to neutralize the explosiveness and speed of Avanesyan, who grew in confidence in the ring.
In the eighth, Lejarraga began to rally and increased the pressure with several left hands on Avanesyan and, at times, made his legion of followers dream that a knockout was coming, but it was only an illusion Avanesyan landed big before the bell rang with another hard blow to the chin that hurt Lejarraga.
The harsh punishment began to take its toll on the home fighter. Avanseyan smelled blood and launched a final and lethal attack that forced the referee to stop the fight to avoid further unnecessary punishment to the local man.
“I’m sorry. I hope to have a rematch in Bilbao, in Russia or in London, I tried, but it was not enough,” said an emotional Lejarraga from the ring just after the fight.