By Steve Kim Updated on March 04, 2024

Ford Tough Till the End

Picture for Ford Tough Till the End

Yogi Berra would've loved the main event at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York, because it wasn't over, till it was over. Raymond Ford down on two of the three scorecards going into the last stanza versus Otabek Kohlmatov, needed something big if he wanted to capture the vacant WBA featherweight title. 

Ford after a relatively slow start to the 12th, kept pressing the attack on Kohlmotov, who was laboring to the finish line. With a half-minute left in the fight, a left uppercut from Ford stunned the Uzbek. After getting wrestled to the canvas, Kohlmatov got up, but was then struck by a series of punches that had him careening into the ropes with his back turned.

It was at that point that referee Charlie Fitch waved the fight off with under 10 seconds left. (And folks, lets get this straight: for the last time -- there is no standing eight count any longer.)

Picture for Ford Tough Till the End Mikey Williams/Top Rank

You'd be hard pressed to find a better, more dramatic ending than what took place this Saturday night at the Turning Stone. This was shades of Julio Cesar Chavez-Meldrick Taylor, or perhaps Carl Froch-Jermain Taylor.

INSTANT CLASSIC! Raymond Ford Stops Otabek Kholmatov In Final Seconds | FIGHT HIGHLIGHTS


What was a relatively small event (which was streamed on ESPN+) became a fight that wont soon be forgotten. For all the major bouts that end up being disappointing, your faith in this game gets rewarded on nights like this. 

This was a pretty good fight, with a breathtaking ending. This one should be put into the archives.

Picture for Ford Tough Till the EndMikey Williams/Top Rank

"My coach told me to bring that dog out. We knew we were coming into their territory," said Ford, a boxer under the Matchroom Boxing banner, who fought on a Top Rank card. "This wasn’t under our promotion. But we had to dig deep. The whole time in the corner, I kept telling myself, ‘I’m going to stop him.’ I felt him breaking down as the rounds went on."

What was interesting is the way this bout played out. Despite being the perceived boxer, Ford, who only had eight stoppages in fourteen fights coming into the weekend, was the one who began stalking the heavy-handed Kohlmatov in the middle rounds. While he got buzzed in the second, Ford held up well against the Kohlmatov arsenal, and despite giving up some size, the quicksilver southpaw from Camden, looked like the stronger fighter in the late rounds. 

Picture for Ford Tough Till the EndMikey Williams/Top Rank

“I started off a little slow," explained Ford. "I felt I didn’t really have the energy and the legs to be the sharper boxer I know I can be. That was due to a tough weight cut. So, this may be my last fight at 126. Then, we’ll go up to 130 and call out the champions there."

He nearly ran out of time, but till the very end, he was Ford tough

“I knew I had to stop him. The rounds were too close. I just had to bring that dog out that my coaches were talking about. I always knew I had it in me. I come from a rough background. There’s nothing that can stop me. Ever.”



The co-feature on this broadcast was the IBF featherweight title tilt between defending champion, Luis Alberto 'Venado' Lopez and Reiya 'Honest' Abe. 

Lopez is not a textbook on boxing fundamentals, in fact, you could say that he does a lot of things wrong. But for him, it works. Abe is the latest to find out. In the second round he was struck by a left hand that blew up his right eye.

And then he was hit with a steady barrage of punches that seemingly came at all angles and launch points. One of the most difficult parts of preparing for 'Venado' is finding sparring partners that can replicate his unusual (to say the least) style. 

Luis Alberto Lopez Tears Up Reiya Abe's Eye In TKO Win | FIGHT HIGHLIGHTS


Finally, the bout was waved off in round eight with growing concern for Abe's eye, and the steady beating he was taking. 

Picture for Ford Tough Till the EndMikey Williams/Top Rank

"Abe was a warrior," said an admiring Lopez. "He was able to continue with his eye shut. He continued fighting with a lot of heart. We know that Japanese fighters have a lot of heart. But I also have a lot of hunger to continue being a world champion, and I had to show that."

Lopez is right in the thick of an interesting featherweight division, with the likes of Rafael Espinoza, Rey Vargas and the newly crowned Ford as fellow belt-holders. There is also the specter of Naoya Inoue moving up by next year after taking care of business at 122. 

“Like I have been saying, it would be great for me to unify. But I would also like to have a fight at 130 pounds. If they put me in against the winner of Oscar Valdez and Liam Wilson, that would be stupendous,'' stated Lopez.



Middleweight prospect, Troy Isley, put forth a strong effort as he dispatched Marcos Hernandez in six...So is it time to be concerned about Ryan Garcia?....Or for that matter, heavyweight, Jared Anderson?....I wonder what Bruce Carrington thought of the featherweights on Saturday night, as he was in attendance...With the way Amanda Serrano's bout was canceled this weekend, now I've heard it all...I can be reached at




About Author
Ford Tough Till the End
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for
  • Was a boxing reporter for from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.