Nicholas Esposito certainly lived up to the expectations, securing the Italian welterweight title with a hard-fought ten-round points decision victory over the resilient Tobia Giuseppe Loriga at the Matchroom/OPI Since 82 event held in Milan. The 26-year-old Esposito had to endure a grueling battle, emerging from the fight with significant marks, as Loriga displayed unwavering determination in defending his title. Despite Loriga’s tenacity, Esposito, extending his unbeaten record to 14 fights, showcased superior accuracy and power, even though he couldn’t break Loriga’s spirit.
All three judges concurred with a score of 97-93, a decision that left Loriga visibly disapproving, wagging his finger in response. Loriga, a former opponent of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, came out with a ferocious pace, launching an onslaught of punches from the opening bell, while Esposito aimed to close in on him. Although the 43-year-old champion found success in the initial rounds, Esposito gradually began to time his opponent’s movements, delivering a devastating left uppercut just before the end of the second round.
With a significant age gap of 17 years, Esposito, hailing from Cremona, anticipated Loriga’s slowdown. During the third round, he adopted an aggressive approach, capitalizing on Loriga’s increasingly erratic punches as he tried to match the younger fighter. Esposito’s long right cross in the fourth appeared to stagger the champion, bolstering Esposito’s confidence. While Esposito’s accuracy waned at times after connecting with Loriga, leading to occasional head clashes and a small cut by Loriga’s right eye, the determined champion continued to press forward, winning the fifth round based on his work rate alone.
By the seventh round, Loriga sported a cut across the bridge of his nose, and Esposito consistently landed his jab while finding opportunities to connect with telling blows. Loriga, however, refused to relent in his forward aggression, even though his gumshield frequently came loose. Although Loriga occasionally neglected his defense as Esposito continued to press the action, it was the younger fighter who delivered cleaner, more effective punches. Esposito ultimately emerged victorious, with Loriga displaying admirable resilience by continuing to throw punches until the final bell rang, with Gaetano Virgillito serving as the referee.
In another thrilling match on the card, Mirko Natalizi showcased his power with two heavy left hooks, securing a fourth-round stoppage victory over Islam Teffahi in their scheduled super-welterweight eight-rounder. Natalizi, a Rome native on a ten-fight winning streak, possesses a size advantage in the weight class and employs a relaxed southpaw style. While Natalizi initially took a leisurely approach in the first two rounds, dominating the action without pushing the pace, his power and precision ultimately shone through in the later rounds.