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Heavyweight Pulev stops Dinu to win U.S. debut

COSTA MESA, Calif. — In what turned out to be an entertaining heavyweight battle Saturday, Kubrat Pulev made a successful stateside debut by stopping Bogdan Dinu in seven rounds. Pulev, rated No. 1 by the IBF, had to overcome a rough fourth round that saw him hurt and cut over the left eye.

For a few minutes, he seemed in danger of losing not just this fight, but his positioning in the heavyweight division.

But that moment of adversity only steeled the Bulgarian’s resolve, as he regained his composure and began to steadily wear down Dinu with his pressure and an offensive attack keyed by his right hand.

“The cut was not that big of a problem. This is just part of fighting. Sometimes blood makes me very hungry,” said Pulev, who improved to 27-1 (14 KOs).

By the fifth round, he was back in control of the proceedings. Pulev started to back up Dinu (18-2, 14 KOs) and press him up along the ropes. While he got stronger as the fight went on, Dinu’s activity, which keyed his big fourth round, dissipated.

“I was prepared, I was fit,” said Pulev, who has now won seven consecutive fights since getting stopped by Wladimir Klitschko in 2014 for the heavyweight title.

In the seventh round, he sent Dinu to the canvas with a series of right hands in the corner. But because he hit Dinu in the back of the head as he was down, Dinu was given a respite of five minutes to recover, and referee Raul Caiz Sr. deducted a point. It was only a momentary reprieve, however, as Pulev kept plowing ahead with more right hands, and another barrage of punches sent Dinu to the canvas for the second time in the round.

Dinu would rise unsteadily to his feet, and after he was floored for the third time in the round, Caiz waved off the fight.

“I think I was very good at boxing today, I showed good punching, good strategy,” said Pulev, who will soon be in line for a title shot.

Jessie Magdaleno beats sluggish Rico Ramos

Years ago, when Rico Ramos was the WBA junior featherweight champion, a young prospect named Jessie Magdaleno helped him prepare for his 2012 bout against Guillermo Rigondeaux as a sparring partner.

Saturday night, they met again in the co-feature as featherweights — and unfortunately it looked like a 10-round sparring session.

While Magdaleno (26-1, 18 KOs) started off quickly and tried in the early rounds to be the aggressor, the reluctant Ramos (30-6, 14 KOs) for much of the night did very little to actually win this fight. Round after round, he did just enough to survive and his offensive output was virtually nonexistent in many rounds. Magdaleno fought methodically and landed the majority of the significant punches.

For a night when a potential title fight was on the line for the winner, the lack of urgency from Ramos was bewildering. Ramos was once a world champion, but since getting stopped by Rigondeaux seven years ago in six rounds, his career has never truly recovered.

It wasn’t until the final two rounds, when Magdaleno was content to circle the ring and run out the clock, that Ramos started to show signs of life as he came forward and finally started letting his hands go. But even those offensive attacks were halfhearted attempts.

“It was a long layoff, I came back against a tough veteran, I wanted to make the climb up [the rankings] and that’s why we took this fight. Ramos is a former world champion for a reason,” said Magdaleno, who last fought 11 months ago, when he was stopped in 11 rounds by Isaac Dogboe for the WBO 122-pound title.

At the end of the 10 rounds, Magdaleno was ruled the winner by the scores of 97-93, 98-92 and 99-91.

“We will look at this fight and see what we need to work on,” Magdaleno said. “I’m going to sit down with my dad, my coach and Top Rank and talk about what is next for me.”

EltasZone Sportswriters, Sports Analysts, Opinion columnists, editorials and op-eds. Analysis from The Zone Team