Florian Marku, spurred on by an army of home fans at the Air Albania Stadium, progressed his unbeaten welterweight campaign in a scrappy fight that wasn’t without its struggles.
The 29-year-old former kickboxer enjoyed a hero’s welcome to the ring, soundtracked by Albanian rapper Noizy and chants from the local fans. What followed was a bloody, and often sloppy, affair – cuts for each fighter, knockdowns for each fighter, a point taken and a referee who stopped a round slightly early.
Miguel Parra Ramirez had the height advantage and was a relatively unknown challenge. He came out game, undeterred by the lack of support, and had the busier 1st round. Marku began to close the distance in the 2nd, willing to stand and trade with the Mexican.
A scrappy 4th saw Marku score a questionable knockdown. It was quickly followed by a clash of heads, opening up a cut above his left eye – the blood from it helping Ramirez find a home for a couple of big shots.
Switching southpaw at the halfway stage of the ten-rounder, ‘The Albanian King’ continued racking up the rounds and threw a left hook in the 7th that caused a wide, deep cut on the cheek of his opponent. Not long after, the referee paused proceedings to take a point from Parra Ramirez, leaving victory for him looking unlikely.
Marku’s homecoming was close to being spoiled as a big left hand sat him down heavily in the 8th, but a quick recovery and animated instructions from Grant Smith in the corner saw him fight on to take a fair, unanimous decision.
The international BOXXER event was streamed live on the Sky Sports Boxing YouTube channel. Marku and his promoters will now likely look for a step up in opposition so that the fighter can continue to climb the welterweight rankings.
For now, ‘The Albanian King’ will celebrate the fact that his people showed up to see him hold onto his crown.