Miranda answers knockdown with two of his own
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Allan Green talked a big game before the fight, and so did Edison Miranda.
Miranda was the only one able to back it up.
Miranda survived an eighth-round knockdown, but scored two of his own in the 10th round to score a unanimous decision in a much-anticipated middleweight fight Saturday night at Roberto Clemente Coliseum.
The fight, the co-feature on the card headlined by Miguel Cotto's first welterweight title defense against Oktay Urkal, was expected to be filled with fireworks. Finally, it turned that way for the final three rounds.
Miranda, who tried to make it a very physical fight, was well-ahead on the scorecards when suddenly Green, out of nowhere, landed a flush left hook on Miranda's chin and knocked him down.
Miranda (28-1) jumped to his feet, but was clearly hurt and unsteady. But Green (23-1) let the moment pass when he laid back and didn't attack.
Miranda rebounded in the ninth, hurting a tiring Green with a left early in the round and then wobbling him again at the bell ending the round.
Green, 27, who suffered a small cut on the corner of his left eye in the third round, was spent when he came out for the 10th, and Miranda, 26, attacked him furiously. Miranda landed a big right hand that rocked Green and seemed to have him virtually out on his feet.
Miranda, a Colombian who made Puerto Rico his home last year, was desperately trying to finish him as the crowd roared, but Green was able to hang on until collapsing in exhaustion. Referee Jose Rivera called it a knockdown and Green was very slow to make it to his feet.
As soon as the fight resumed, Miranda rushed him and cracked Green at the final bell.
Miranda won 97-90 and 96-91 (twice). ESPN.com scored it 97-91.
For Miranda, whose only loss came last fall on a controversial decision to Arthur Abraham in a title fight in Germany, the win sets up a June or July HBO fight against fellow middleweight slugger Kelly Pavlik.
"He's a very good boxer, a very difficult fighter," Miranda said, finally giving Green even a little bit of credit after their war of words leading up to the fight. "But my power was the difference.
Not acknowledging the loss to Abraham, Miranda added, "I wanted stay undefeated. That is why I fought so hard."
Green, who came down from super middleweight to meet Miranda at a catch weight of 162 pounds, admitted that making the weight was a strain.
He plans to go back to super middleweight.
"I never should have come down this far in weight," said Green. "It was a big mistake to come down this far in weight. I felt too weak and I just didn't get into the fight. I felt weak.
"Miranda is a decent fighter. He beat me. It's a great win for him."
Miranda landed many blows behind Green's head, but was not warned even though Green complained to Rivera during the fight.
Miranda was also warned twice in the third round for head butts.
Tony Holden, Green's promoter, was outraged by the inaction of Rivera.
"I'll take the loss, but he got hit so many times in the back of the head without any warnings," Holden said.
Miranda grew up in poverty in Colombia before making it to the United States and signing with Seminole Warriors Boxing. Now he's reached the big time after the victory against Green.
Miranda began boxing in the United States in 2005, but opened many eyes in 2006 when he knocked out perennial contender Howard Eastman in the seventh round on ESPN2 in March. It was the only time Eastman has ever been stopped.
In September, Miranda challenged Abraham in Germany. Although Miranda broke Abraham's jaw in two places and dominated stretches of the fight, he had five points deducted by the referee for borderline infractions and lost a controversial decision.
Miranda made his HBO debut in December and drilled Willie Gibbs in the first round to excite network executives and many American fans.
• Junior featherweight Juan Manuel Lopez, Puerto Rico's best prospect, looked impressive destroying Levi Brea at 2:24 of the second round.
Displaying poise and fast hands, the 23-year-old 2004 Olympian scored three knockdowns. He would have had a fourth, but the referee had already called off the fight when Brea (16-4-3), of the Dominican Republic, fell to the canvas again.
Lopez (16-0, 14 KOs), a relentless southpaw, landed 46 of 103 punches (45 percent), most of them power shots.
The first solid right hand Lopez landed on Brea's jaw in the first round knocked down. A few moments later, Brea was on the deck again from a left hand a few seconds before the round ended.
Lopez picked up where he left off in the second round, knocking Brea to the deck with a right hand. The game Brea dragged himself to his feet again and Lopez nailed him with a right hand that wobbled him, and as the referee jumped in to stop the fight, Brea fell to his knees.
Lopez is on the fast track but he is patient.
"I still need four or five fights before I can think about fighting for a world title," Lopez said. "I am still learning. Tonight, I was patient and just looked for the opportunities."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.