TIJUANA, MEXICO-In scalding heat, WBC female bantamweight titlist Yazmin “La Rusita” Rivas defeated San Antonio’s Celina “The Sweetheart” Salazar by unanimous decision, though not by the widespread scores tabulated by the judges on Saturday.
Rivas (32-8) was able to figure out Salazar’s (6-2-2) strong pressure attack and turn things in her favor before a crowd of more than 2,500 at Fausto Gutierrez Auditorio Municipal. It was Rivas’ second consecutive defense of the world title.
But once more the judging seemed capricious as one judge gave no rounds to Salazar while most of the Mexican press saw it much closer. An American judge gave Salazar one round.
“What fight were they seeing,” said one reporter.
Rivas used movement and her reach to stave off early attacks by Salazar, who moved in behind a jab and a bob and weave. In the second round Salazar increased the pressure and was able to land blows to the body and head.
Salazar was seldom getting hit until the fourth round, when things changed. The bob and weave disappeared and Rivas was able to land more consistently.
“It wasn’t the weight,” said Salazar who dropped down to 118 pounds for this fight. She normally fights at 122 pounds. “I ate twice before the weighing. I think she just adjusted to my fight.”
Rivas began connecting to the body as Salazar tried moving in. A small welt developed along Salazar’s left eye but not enough to stop the fight.
In the sixth round Salazar took the fight outside and moved side to side, not allowing Rivas to sit down on her punches. Few punches were landed and those were distributed equally between the two female boxers. It also allowed Salazar a rest.
Salazar opened the seventh round with several crisp right hand leads and followed up with a one-two that connected. It looked to be her round when suddenly Rivas countered with two shots to the body. The first was near the thigh but the second landed on the hip and Salazar was definitely hurt. She almost dropped to one knee and referee David Mendoza stepped in between quickly and stepped out just as quickly as he realized that the Texas fighter did not go down. Meanwhile Rivas had run to a neutral corner thinking it was a knockdown. It wasn’t. Salazar hung on.
Rivas attacked the body to open the eighth round and Salazar tried her best to cover up all attack zones. Rivas continued the attack and was unable to penetrate Salazar’s defense for a knockout blow. In the last few seconds Salazar connected with a well-placed overhand right to the head.
Salazar had recuperated and in the ninth round she counter-attacked Rivas who may have been low on gas. Both fought hard and both landed blows. It was the same scenario for the 10th and final round. Both landed punches and neither was hurt by the other.
One judge scored it 100-90 giving Salazar no rounds. Another gave her only one round 99-91. A third gave her two rounds 98-92. Rivas retained her world title by unanimous decision.
“I thought my lack of experience hurt me the most in this fight,” said Salazar, whose only other loss was to Melinda Cooper in 2012. “But other than that I felt good.”
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