By Jake Donovan
It took a strong finish to help erase a disastrous start for Joebert Alvarez, who survived an early knockdown and a horrific cut to score a unanimous decision over Julian 'Chicano' Rivera in their flyweight bout Friday evening at the Foro Polanco in Mexico City.
Scores were 114-112 (twice) and 115-112 in their Telemundo-televised main event.
The upset bug has run rampant early on in the calendary, both on Telemundo and around the boxing world on Friday evening. Alvarez threatened to fall in the same trap as countryman Marvin Mabait one week prior, traveling to Mexico to take on a veteran spoiler.
Through the first four rounds, it didn't at all appear to be Alvarez' night. Rivera came highly motivated fighting in his hometown, embracing the role of underdog as he remained the busier fighter even amidst a storm of power shots from the visiting Filipino.
The first surprise of the night - and almost a
moment considering last week's result - came late in round two. Alvarez was getting the better of Rivera in the round, before running into a right hand that left him shook, with an ensuing combination forcing him to a knee in a round he was otherwise controlling.
Rivera knew better than to believe it was the beginning of the end for the unbeaten flyweight. The local spoiler continued to dig in, hoping to exploit his power advantage without deliberately looking for the knockout. Alvarez knew his role, and stuck to boxing in a successful bounceback third round, but reverted back to early form in attempting to win the power exchanges, a strategy that cost him the fourth round.
It was in round five, when things went completely south for Mabait in this very venue one week ago. Alvarez lasted long enough to hear the bell to end the round, but not before suffering a wicked cut above his left eye as the result of a headbutt, a sequence which cost Rivera a point simply as the uncut fighter in the exchange, due to an outdated rule in place by the WBC, who had a regional title at stake in the fight.
The middle rounds depended entirely on preference, in regards to whom was getting the better of the action. Alvarez was landing the cleaner and arguably heavier blows, but Rivera walked through everything his opponent had to offer and continued to respond with volume punching, including the occasional round-ending shoeshine.
Alvarez eventually took control late in the fight, but not before eating a monstrous left hook that left him dazed towards the end of round nine. The sequence turned out to be Rivera's last big hurrah, as his tireless determination down the stretch was trumped by Alvarez' superior boxing skills and cleaner punching.
All told, Alvarez survives the first road trip of his pro career as he improves to 14-0-1 (6KO). It was the type of fight that would have him a better fighter even if in defeat. As it turned out, he gets the win and gets to grow from it as he heads back to his native Philippines.
Rivera comes up short but continues to be a handful for any flyweight in the world. The divisional gatekeeper falls to 13-10-1 (2KO), suffering his third loss in four fights but making his presence felt on each of those nights. Rivera offered a similarly strong performance versus unbeaten Matthew Valenzuela last summer.
The bout served as the main event of the Spring 2014 season finale of
In the evening's chief support, Luis Vara scored a unanimous decision over Carlos Alberto Barraza in a battle of local flyweights.
Vara nearly had Barraza out on his feet in the 6th and final round, but was forced to settle for a decision win as he improves to 4-1-2 (0KO). Barraza falls to 7-6-1 (2KO), suffering his third straight defeat.
Tags: Boxing Television , boxing
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America.