By: William Holmes
Boxing’s storied rivalry between Puerto Rico and Mexico continued tonight as linear middleweight champion Miguel Cotto faced Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez in the main event of the evening and the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada
Several title fights were featured on the undercard, and the televised portion of the card opened up with a featherweight fight Puerto Rican boxer Jayson Velez (23-0) and Mexican boxer Ronny Rios (24-1). This bout was for the WBC Silver Featherweight Championship.
Both boxers fought out of an orthodox stance, though Velez looked like he was the bigger boxer. The action was close in the first two rounds with both boxers having their moments, with Rios pressing the action more and Velez focusing on throwing sharp counters. Rios was warned in the second round for a low blow.
Velez was briefly stunned in the third round by Rios from a hard right hook, and that punch seemed to energize Rios as he picked up the pressure and began to throw more power shots. Rios was landing hard body shots in the fourth round, though he was warned again by the referee for landing an apparent low blow.
Rios was deducted a point in the fifth round for another low blow, though the ringside announcers felt the punch did not land low. Rios didn’t let the point deduction phase him and he connected with some thudding left and right hooks as the round came to an end.
By the start of the sixth round Velez had landed ten more punches than Rios, but Rios had turned the tide of the momentum in his favor and he ripped hard shots the ribs and head of Velez.
Velez’s activity decreased significantly in the seventh round and he barely offered up any offense in the eighth round and Rios’ activity only continued to increase as he forced the fight and landed more combinations.
Velez’s face was showing the wear of tear of the fight by the ninth round and by the tenth round he clearly needed a knockout to win the fight. That never came.
The judges scored it 97-92, 95-94, and 96-93 for Ronny Rios.
“I felt like I dictated the pace of the fight, and I felt like I was landing more power punches than him,” said Ronny Rios. “He did throw a few body shots at me that hurt but they weren’t significant enough for me to stop pressuring him and doing what I needed to do to secure this victory. He actually surprised me; I thought he was going to use the jab all night but he was definitely getting in the inside. This is a really big victory for me. I have a belt now, and I know that bigger things will come my way because of it.”
The second bout of the night was between Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux and Filipino boxer Drian Francisco (28-3-1) in the super bantamweight division.
Rigondeaux has a reputation for being one of boxing’s best pound for pound fighters, but he also has a reputation for being terribly boring.
He did little to shake off the boring label tonight.
Francisco was taller and bigger than Rigondeaux, but he was not able to use that size advantage to his favor and was outboxed by Rigondeaux from the first round on.
Rigondeaux, as always, looked incredibly calm and seemed content on landing one punch at a time. The crowd began booing the fight by the second round and that would continue throughout.
By the end of the second round Francisco had only thrown twenty punches, and by the end of the third round he only landed two power punches. Rigondeaux had landed nineteen power punches by the end of the third, but he was not going for a knockdown or stoppage.
The crowd’s frustration with the lack of action in the ring got louder in the fourth round and Francisco looked completely lost in the ring.
By the sixth round the most exciting part of the fight was listening to the announcers come up with hypothetical “great” fights for Rigondeaux, such as Chocolatito and Lomachenko, but nothing that Rigondeaux did at this point would make anyone excited to pay for his next fight.
Rigondeaux was clearly the better boxer, but only averaged seven punches per round, and Franisco somehow managed less.
The final scores were 97-93, 100-90, and 100-90 for Guillermo Rigondeaux.
“I feel terrific after the fight,” said Guillermo Rigondeaux. “He threw heavy but his style has nothing on mine. My style outmatched his. It’s been 11 months since I’ve been in the ring and I definitely felt some cobwebs but I d like to see some other fighters be out 11 months and come back with a win. I definitely wanted to give the fans a better fight so I need to get back in to the gym, get more active to give a better performance. I promise that with the tools I have now after signing with Roc Nation that next time I’ll be explosive. Thank you to my team for helping me get this win.”
“Rigondeaux is not a fighter, he is a runner,” said Drian Francisco. “He is afraid of getting hurt and doesn’t want to fight. I felt pressured into being the aggressor during this fight because he wasn’t fighting, he was running away. He is not a power puncher and won by points. I trained really hard for this fight and I feel like it was a waste of time because I didn’t encounter a fighter tonight.
The final fight on the undercard was between Takashi Miura (29-2-2) and Franicsco Vargas (22-0-1) for the WBC Junior Lightweight Title.
Miura was a southpaw and Vargas fought out of an orthodox stance. Vargas was coming off of a recent stoppage victory over Juan Manuel Lopez and Miura has a reputation for being a bulldog and aggressive inside the ring.
The action in the first round was intense as Vargas and Miura exchanged several times, but Vargas connected with a clean straight right hand to the chin of Miura that appeared to momentarily stun him. Miura tried to hold on for most of the remainder of the first round and Vargas was able to sneak in some hard shots whenever Miura tried to tie up.
Vargas came out for the second round with a small cut under his right eye, but that did not bother him as he outworked, out landed, and out classes Miura in the second round. Miura was able to land a fair share of hard punches in the second, but Vargas landed the harder punches.
The third round was another good round for Vargas, but the cut under his right eye was starting to open up more and Miura’s right hooks were beginning to land with regularity.
Miura had an excellent fourth round as he was landing hard counter right hooks and he was taking some of Vargas’ best punches. Miura scored a knockdown near the end of the round as he body shots opened up his punches to the head when he connected with a hard right uppercut followed by a three punch combination that sent Vargas to mat. Vargas got up and survived the reminder of the round, but Miura had the swung the tide of the fight in his favor.
Miura kept up his pressure in the fifth round and Vargas looked like he was beginning to fade, but Miura still took four punches just to land one, even though his shots had more power behind them. Vargas came out aggressively at the start of the sixth round and both boxers ripped hard shots to the body, and that round could have been scored either way.
Miura connected with several hard left hands in the seventh round and he was not visibly affected from the punches of Vargas. Vargas’ right eye was badly bruised by the start of the seventh round and his head and body took several vicious shots from the increasingly confident Miura in the eighth round.
Vargas came out for the start of the ninth round with a bad cut above his right eye and he appeared to be falling behind badly on the card. Vargas, however, opened up the ninth round with a brutal combination out of nowhere that sent Miura down to the mat violently. Miura was able to get back to his feet somehow but was on wobbly legs. Vargas jumped on Miura with a whirlwind of combinations and Miura could do little but try to hang on. The assault by Vargas continued until the referee finally jumped in to stop the fight.
Vargas win an exciting fight by TKO at 1:31 of the ninth round.
“I’m the champ, I’m the champ!” said Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas. “This is a dream come true for me, something I have been fighting for my whole life. I knew Takashi was going to be a tough opponent, that’s why he is the champion, so I had to make sure I was prepared to face a fighter like him. I feel that my preparation paid off for this fight. I knew I had to be very aggressive, and I showed that in the first round so he knew that I would not be bullied. When I was knocked down in the fourth round, I felt even more motivated to win this fight. I made sure to fight the way I wanted, how I wanted and my style and now I’m the champion of the world! I hope all the fans enjoyed themselves tonight with my performance.”
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