Last night, on the undercard of Showtime’s match up between James DeGale and Lucian Bute in Quebec City, Amir “Young Master” Imam (18-1-0,15 KO’s) surprisingly suffered his first upset loss to warrior Adrian Granados (17-4-2, 12 KO’s).
Amir Imam, at the young age of 25, not only was seen as one of the most talented young fighters in the sport, he also was the mandatory challenger to face Victor Postol for the WBC World Super Lightweight Championship of the world. To Imam and his team it seemed that Granados was simply a tune up fight for the Postol fight later next year.
Granados on the other hand had a very deceiving record. His last three losses came to fighters with a combined record of 49-0, and he was coming off of a BKB (Big Knockout Boxing) win over well known gatekeeper, Jesus Soto Karass.
Amir Imam came out for the first round in his usual, studying demeanor, at times sticking out his left hand trying to control Granados head, and at times sticking out his jab. Granados had a clear game plan, throw as many punches as possible, and try to force him into a slugging match on the inside.
As the first round progressed, it seemed that Imam was finding the right distance and landing his stiff jab. Then suddenly with about 1:45 left in the first round, Granados threw a 1-2, which Imam slipped, followed it up with a lazy left hook that Imam beautifully countered with his own jab and straight right hand that sent Granados crashing to the canvas. Granados quickly raised himself off the canvas, and did not seem terribly hurt, but one couldn’t help but feel that Imam was going to make this a short night. Especially after receiving two more devastating right hands before the round ended but Granados, showing the heart of a champion, not only made it out of the round but also was able to land a couple of shots himself.
For the second round, Granados seemed to have cleared his head, and came straight for Imam, mixing it up to the head and body. Granados began to land hard thudding shots, overwhelming with four to five punch combinations, not alway landing everything, but definitely landing enough to keep Imam busy.
Imam, who seemed to feel that he could not only win by boxing on the outside but also on the inside, made the critical mistake of fighting Granados fight. He would at times, move and stick out his jab, but most of the round he would stand on the ropes and trade with Granados, definitely getting the worst of the action. Granados not only threw an astronomical amount of punches (81 punches in second round), he was actually quite accurate, and had exceptional timing, which is clearly something that Imam did not expect.
Granados came out for the third with the same intensity as for the second. He also did a good job of mixing up his attack, at times he would throw a jab to the body and follow with a right to the head. Other times he would throw the lead right hand and move into the inside, were the referee Alain Villeneuve allowed them to fight and didn’t move in quickly to split the two fighters. Granados continued his beautiful work on the inside, working in his multiple punch combinations, mixing to the head and body.
Imam did at times land some stiff counter punches, but most of the time he was unable to create the space which make his punches so powerful. The times that he did create space, Granados took the punches better than most of Imam’s opponents.
In round two and three, Granados landed 44 to Imam’s 30 power punches, clearly outworking the top prospect. Not only that, he seemed to have exposed Imam’s inexperience. Imam who has shown to have an extraordinary amount of talent and power, seemed to have felt that he could simply pick Granados apart, and win no matter how the fight played out.
By round five, Granados seemed to be gaining confidence, and Imam seemed to be getting more and more insecure. Not only was Granados outworking Imam, he had made Imam’s world renown jab completely non existent. He even seemed to have gotten Imam hurt at the end of the round, landing multiple three punch combinations.
The action in the sixth and seventh round was much of the same, with Granados having more success, and Imam taking an unprecedented amount of punishment. Imam, who had been known for his conditioning, seemed to have been worn down and lacked the pop in his punches that he was known for. This may have been due to the amount of punishment that he received to the head and body, rather than a lack of conditioning.
At the end of the seventh, Imam looked like a beaten up man in the corner, with swelling on his left eye and blood coming from his nose and mouth. In the opposite corner, Granados and his team seemed to be overflowing with confidence and were pushing for the knockout.
The end did in fact come in the eighth round. As Granados came straight for Imam like he had done throughout the night, Imam seemed weak, and unable to handle the shots like he had before. With about a minute remaining in the eighth round, Imam seemed to be trying to hold to weather yet another storm, and got pinned on the ropes. Granados then began to land at will to the head and body, as Imam unsuccessfully attempted to slip and block punches.
The dramatic end to the fight came when Imam attempted to hold with thirty second left in the round, and Granados threw Imam to the ropes like a rag doll. Then, looking utterly helpless, Imam received the final barrage of right and left hands that forced referee Villeneuve to step in.
With this win for Granados, he can look forward to more high profile bouts in the Super Lightweight division. He’s proven that he can be an effective pressure fighter, and has skills to upset some of the top guns of the division. One wonders what a fight with someone of the caliber of Adrien Broner might play out.
As for Amir Imam, it’s back to the drawing board. Imam seems to have all the talent in the world, and seemed the more skilled of the two combatants. But on this occasion, his inexperience cost him his undefeated record. A fighter with the skill set of Imam will no doubt come back, but it will not be an easy road back to the top.
-Hector Gomez @hector_gomez810