Left hook gives Ramos the title
Rico Ramos knocked out Akifumi Shimoda in the seventh round in Atlantic City on Saturday night to win the WBA super-bantamweight title.
The unbeaten American flattened the 26-year-old southpaw from Japan with one punch, a powerful left hook to the jaw that sent Shimoda to the canvas.
Shimoda got up at the count of nine but staggered sideways and stumbled to the floor again, rolling on to his back.
Referee Benjy Esteves counted him out 2 minutes and 46 seconds into the seventh round.
"I can't believe it," Ramos said. "I didn't think the hook was going to land. I didn't think I was going to knock him out."
Ramos improved his record to 20-0 with his 11th knockout.
Shimoda's record fell to 23-3, with one drawn, as he failed to become the first Japanese champion to retain his belt in a fight in the United States. He lost for only the second time in his 14 most recent fights.
Making his first defence of a title that he won in Tokyo in January with a unanimous decision over Japan's Ryol Li Lee, Shimoda controlled the pace of the fight in the opening rounds.
He was aggressive and used his left hand to the body to initiate exchanges and score with combinations.
But a clash of heads in the fifth round opened a cut above the right eye of Ramos, making him worry that the fight might be stopped early and forcing him to become more aggressive.
Ramos pressed the attack and took advantage of his first opening to win the crown.
"After the fifth I felt him getting tired and I knew I had to go for it," Ramos said. "I was cut and had to go for it before they stopped it.
"I'm glad he came to the United States but I'm keeping this in the United States."
Ramos had the longest fight of his career, a 10-round unanimous decision over Mexican southpaw Alejandro Valdez, in February.