Weight-challenged Brandon Rios, who semi-shocked the boxing world by not making weight for the second straight outing, took on Richard Abril in a lightweight/lightweight plus scrap at the Mandalay Bay in the main support bout to the Marquez-Fedchenko bout in Mexico. From the get-go, Rios lacked snap in this Top Rank production, and if you were waiting for him to get warmed up, and break the man down, and win a war of attrition, you were disappointed. Abril was the crafty Cuban, who boxed smart, from a distance and in close, as Rios followed him to no real avail. The judges, though, discounted what all watching knew, that 135 is not for Rios, and Abril wasn't a smart style matchup for the banger-boxer. They saw it 111-117, 116-112, 115-113, a split decision for Rios, to whom I gave one single round.
Just so you know, Jerry Roth had the worst card, in my opinion, at 116-112 for Rios, Glen Trowbridge saw it somehow 115-113 for Rios, while Adelaide Byrd, God bless her, saw straight, at 117-111 for the real winner, Abril.
Rios entered 29-0-1, while Abril was 17-2-1 coming in. The Cali-based boxer, born in Texas, didn't look weak or drained from the experience in the first overtly. The Cuban-born Abril, based in Florida, held the interim WBA lightweight crown coming in. He looked like he'd try to use a height edge, and keep Rios on the outside, and it worked well, as Rios chased without great success. Rios closed the distance a bit more in the second, making us wonder if Abril could go the distance controlling the distance and tone. In the third, Rios was more warmed up. He landed some body shots and a nice uppercut in his best round. In the fourth, Abril kept moving, and if and when Rios got close, he'd blunt the assault smartly. The two after the lame one was working for Abril in the fifth, another round for the Cuban. Robert Garcia needed to tell Rios to change his game, go to a Plan B after the round, but he wasn't overly demonstrative. In the seventh, Abril kept using his legs when he wanted and needed to, and stayed put and boxed smart when he wanted to. Vic Drakulich warned Abril for the second time for holding at the end of the round. Rios stepped it up in the next round, but he probably needed a KO. Rios was frustrated in the tenth, yelling at the Cuban to fight like a man. He was, but not in the manner Rios does. In the 11th, Rios made Abril work harder, as he pressed him, but he isn't mobile enough to battle Abril's agility. Abril stayed smart to the final bell. We'd go to the cards.
Mike Alvarado (32-0 entering; from Colorado) and Mauricio Herrera (18-1 entering; from California) matched up quite nicely, and engaged in a junior welter tradefest. Alvarado scored the cleaner, harder shots to the midpoint overall, but Herrera didn't fold. He had Alvie backing up in the fifth, but then the table turned midway through the round. Alvie threw combos, when Herrera too often was one and done. Neither man bothered with running, or clinching. They were there to toss bombs, slip some of them, and try to stop the other guy. Herrera's left eye, swollen noticeably, drew doctor's interest after round seven. He was slipping smartly, and rolling with punches, but that eye contradicted. His corner told him to throw more, or they'd stop the bout. Alvie's right eye had a little nick and mouse on it but this point. In the ninth, Herrera was on the defensive more than his corner would like. He showed more energy than anyone could expect in the tenth. We'd go to the cards. Alvie snagged it, by scores of 99-91, 97-93, 96-94.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV