'Ghost' fades away down stretch

CABAZON — Gabriel Tolmajyan and his Glendale Fighting Club camp walked away from his co-main event on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" feeling they had earned a victory.

But the only opinions that mattered were those of the trio of ringside judges who scored it 78-74 twice and 79-73 for Abraham Lopez, who notched the unanimous decision over Glendale's Tolmajyan on Friday evening at the Morongo Casino.

"To be honest, it was a very close fight," said Edmond Tarverdyan, Tolmajyan's trainer at GFC. "If you look at a boxing match [as] who landed the cleaner shots, I think Gabriel won. The judges have their own decision.

"On TV, everybody thought we won. I doesn't matter."

While ESPN2's broadcasters might have been on Tolmajyan's side, the scorecards were not, as "The Ghost" dropped to 12-2-1 with his first loss since Aug. 8, 2008, while La Puente's Lopez improved to 17-0 in the featherweight bout.

Tolmajyan was the more accurate boxer and showcased the better defense, but down the stretch, Lopez was the aggressor, the more active puncher and took advantage in the clinches.

"My corner told me he doesn't like to be pressured, so go on him, go on him," Lopez said. "My corner said jump on him."

But it was Tolmajyan who jumped out early, decisively winning the opening round with more volume and a series of stinging left body shots from the southpaw and a solid straight left to the chin with 10 seconds left.

"The first round was the best round of the fight," Tarverdyan said.

Both the second and third rounds were extremely close, with Lopez starting to press, but Tolmajyan still boxing well and actively.

Tolmajyan landed far more clean shots in the fourth, which saw a mouse grow under Lopez' left eye.

Tolmajyan landed arguably the best shot of the fight in the fifth round when he connected with a left hook that sent sweat flying.

But over the last three rounds, Tolmajyan's aggression and volume waned, while Lopez accelerated.

"I felt him strong in the beginning," Lopez said. "But I knew he would get tired because he was overweight."

Tolmajyan weighed in at 128.5 pounds for the 127-pound fight. But it was the fighter's focus late that troubled Tarverdyan.

"He wasn't as aggressive and he was losing his focus," Tarverdyan said. "I think it was a little more lack of concentration."

Lopez also did his best work in close, as the two came together often with Tolmajyan a southpaw and Lopez an orthodox fighter. But while Tolmajyan held in the clinches, Lopez punched and piled up points.

"We can't complain," Tarverdyan said. "He's allowed to do that, he's allowed to hit in the clinch."

And he did and apparently did enough to sway the judges.

"I think [Tolmajyan] knows what professional boxing is about," Tarverdyan said. "We knew if it was a close fight we wouldn't be the favorite for a decision."

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