LAS VEGAS-Hold on. Brandon Rios won a foul-filled split decision against Cuba's Richard Abril but didn't win the title due to weight problems once again. Still, he won on Saturday.
Despite not making the 135-pound limit the day before, Rios had enough remaining to prove to the judges before 3,705 fans that even Abril's holding tactics couldn't stop him. Fans at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino were not pleased.
Rios (30-0-1, 21 KOs) won a frustrating fight with Abril (17-3-1, 8 KOs) that was fraught with holding from the Caribbean boxer who was never penalized by referee Vic Drakulich. It proved to be the theme of the fight as fans groaned and pleaded for the referee to deduct a point from the clinging tactics of Abril.
Because Rios was unable to make 135 pounds the day before, he was unable to contend for the vacant WBA title.
Abril proved to be very skillful with his shoulder rolls and defensive style. He didn't need to hold Rios but for all 12 rounds that's exactly what he did. Rios complained, the crowd complained, but the referee let the problem escalate and the fans and viewers were the victims.
“He was an awkward fighter, he held a lot. I thought the referee should have called him on it. But he's a good fighter. I didn't fight at my best tonight. But I felt good physically,” Rios said after.
Abril couldn't punch very hard but his movement and combinations were nice. He just spoiled everything with his constant holding. Rios tried to fight through it by punching at everything he could. Two of the judges recognized the effort.
Rios' next move will be as a 140-pound junior welterweight.
“140 pounds here I come,” said Rios.
Abril was shocked by the decision.
“The scoring was disgraceful. I thought I won by four or five rounds. I had the height, reach and power advantages. It never crossed my mind I could lose,” Abril said.
Judge Adalaide Byrd scored 117-111 for Abril, but Jerry Roth's 116-112 and Glenn Trowbridge's 115-113 scores for Rios proved otherwise.
Alvarado and Herrera
The real fight of the night proved to be number one junior welterweight contender Mike Alvarado mixing skills against Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera. Both let it all hang out and the fans were not disappointed.
Alvarado (33-0, 23 KOs) was the stronger puncher and proved it but Herrera (18-2, 7 KOs) used all his skills to keep pace with the big Colorado bomber. It just wasn't enough before 3,705 fans at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Immediately it was apparent that Alvarado was the bigger guy though both weighed 140 pounds. It was strength versus skill. The first two rounds saw Alvarado bomb away with mean intentions and Herrera pepper him back with precise combinations. After two rounds Herrera's face showed a welt under the left eye.
Alvarado set out to punish Herrera in round three and though the Riverside fighter slipped many, he couldn't slip them all. In the last 10 seconds Herrera opened up with his own salvo and had the crowd roaring its approval.
Both fighters tried to get the edge in round four with Alvarado looking for that one punch. Herrera kept slipping ducking and countering to the body and head with peppering shots. Every so often Herrera would burst with a three punch combo and all would connect.
Round five saw Alvarado slow down the tempo and that allowed Herrera more room to fire combinations through the few punches coming his way. Both looked to end the round with a flurry as Herrera connected on a trio of blows.
Alvarado opened the seventh round with flurries of hard blows and kept Herrera against the neutral corner while firing away. Herrera slipped many blows but more than a few found their mark. Herrera rallied hard at the end of the bell but looked drained from the effort.
A big right hand by Alavarado hurt Herrera as he looked to fend off the blows. He rallied furiously with some combinations of his own but Herrera looked the worse for wear.
“If I had stepped on the gas more I would have stopped him,” Alvarado said.
In the 10th and final round both stood in the middle of the ring and fired away with Alvarado emerging from one exchange with a cut alongside his left eye. Herrera managed to land a few more blows, a right uppercut and overhand right by Alvarado were the most terrifying blows of the round but Herrera was busier and more accurate.
In the end it was Alvarado's stronger punches that were favored by the judges 97-93, 96-94 and a strange 99-91 card by Robert Hoyle. It was a much closer fight.
“He was very durable,” said Alvarado about Herrera's standing power. “I can tell he trained hard for me.”
Alvarado said he deserves to fight Mexican master boxer Juan Manuel Marquez.
Herrera was ordered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to go to the hospital for an examination immediately after the fight.
Mexico's Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs) used his experience and new found muscles to find the antidote against Sergey Fedchenko (30-2, 13 KOs) of the Ukraine in a battle for the WBO junior welterweight interim title.
Marquez slowly figured out Fedchenko's herky jerky movements then began to batter the Ukrainian in the final three rounds to win by unanimous decision.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV