By Derek Bonnett: Many SecondsOut readers were first exposed to Jason Sosa back at the start of 2013. On the same night Sergey Kovalev crashed the world boxing upper echelon, Sosa, a boxer with Jersey-boy good looks, won a fourth round TKO over Joseph "Chip" Perez in a battle between East Coast super featherweights. Sosa dropped Perez in the first and fourth rounds before victory was declared in his favor. It was cross-roads bout of sorts, which pit two young men against one another in a bid to either move up the ladder toward contender status or back to the drawing board. Sosa made the most of the night at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and continued to impress over the following years as he racked up ten more KO victories including a one round annihilation of Jerry Belmontes, who is used to going the distance against world class opposition.
For some though, their first real look at Sosa came in his HBO televised bout with Nicholas "Axe-Man" Walters, which ended in a controversial draw. Before the fight, many were wondering what Sosa did to deserve the opportunity. Afterward, many were wondering how the judges managed to see Sosa even with Walters. What unfolded in the middle though was an interesting contest, one which I agree Sosa should have lost, but was highly competitive in each and every round. There were few dominant rounds by Walters, however, I felt he did a little more each round consistently. Yet, Sosa had me thinking after every three minute frame. If not the victor, Sosa at least proved he could hang with the best in the world as Walters had cracked the Pound for Pound ladder in the eyes of many.
Nevertheless, in June 2016, Sosa was still a decisive underdog against WBA super featherweight titlist Javier Fortuna when the two met at the Capital Gym in Beijing, China. On the rise, Fortuna looked like a super fighter in the making with wins over veterans like Miguel Roman and Cristobal Cruz as well as young contenders such as Yaundale Evans and Patrick Hyland. However, inconsistent performances left Fortuna never quite as good as boxing fans needed him to be. Fortuna added wins over Abner Cotto and Bryan Vasquez , the latter making him a world champion. After one defense over the once highly-touted Carlos Ivan Velasquez, Fortuna met Sosa in Beijing.
In the early goings of their title fight, Sosa, 28, of Camden, New Jersey, established himself as the aggressor against the defending champion. Both Sosa and Fortuna measured each other using jabs with little intention of landing. The challenger feinted on his way inside to find openings to the body and head, but was not overly successful and did not receive anything of consequence in return in round one. On aggression, Sosa won the round. Fortuna landed a nice right hand in the second round, but lacked the rhythm he possessed on one of his good nights. Looking dry and a shade off target, Fortuna tried to pot-shot mostly as Sosa pressed forward. Sosa’s action was greater through the third, but the challenger was missing a lot against the elusive champion. Fortuna on the other hand, was landing, even if it was infrequent. The rounds could be labeled difficult to score, but Fortuna appeared to pull ahead comfortably through rounds four and five. Fortuna stung with faster combinations and dropped Sosa in round five for an instant with a left hand while the challenger pivoted.
Instead of gaining a decided advantage over Sosa, Fortuna’s lead looked to be troubled as Sosa’s ring demeanor had not changed in the slightest. The challenger chased the champion down in round six and established better body work than in previous stanzas. Sosa’s work, in retrospect, was effective aggression for the long haul. The challenger was focused on the forest beyond the trees as he pounded Fortuna’s trunk. One ring announcer labeled Sosa’s effort as "stubborn aggression", which was fitting. Although the rounds were never his clearly, Sosa was not taking no for an answer. On my card, he fought Fortuna even in the seventh. Fortuna’s punches became more wild, possibly because of Sosa’s stubbornness. The challenger worked the body, but neither fighter was exceptional in the eighth round. Sosa broke through in round nine with added focus to the body and his right hands which found their mark better than in any previous round. This momentum carried on through the tenth when Sosa was able to fire lefts and rights on the champion along the ropes with greater accuracy. Clearly tiring under the sustained pressure, Fortuna showed signs of wilting. Fortuna began to miss his shots and was knocked down late in the tenth. Fortuna was penalized for spitting out his mouthpiece later in the round, giving Sosa a 10-7 round to close the gap on the cards. However, Sosa, a modern "Camden Buzzsaw", had no interest in scorecards. The challenger came out for round eleven looking to end matters and soon found his opening. Sosa finished Fortuna with a left, right, left combo to dump the champion on the canvas hard. Fortuna rose gamely, but was saved further punishment in his exhausted state. At the :45 mark of round eleven, Jason Sosa was crowned WBA super featherweight world champion.
Sosa, 20-1-4 (15), finished 2016 with a twelve round decision over Stephen Smith in November. Fortuna, 27, of the Dominican Republic, now fights out of Massuchesetts, USA. Fortuna, 31-1-0 (22), rebounded with two victories over unbeaten boxers Marlyn Cabrera and Omar Douglas in September and November, respectively.
Sosa’s effort shined in a year when there were a number of worthy upsets across the divisions. Other notable upsets include Byron Rojas surprisingly easy decision victory over Hekkie Budler in a minimumweight title bout, heavyweight Eric Molina’s surprise KO of Tomasz Adamek, Jezreel Corrales’ title winning effort over long reigning Takashi Uchiyama at super featherweight, and Julius Indongo’s surprise one round blowout of Eduard Troyanovsky at 140 pounds. The voting was difficult and the nod was narrow, but Jason Sosa’s eleventh round TKO over Javier Fortuna earned the right to be called SecondsOut’s 2016 Upset of the Year.
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January 2, 2017