By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Previously undefeated Jether Oliva had the courage but not the skills and the experience and lost a unanimous twelve round decision to veteran Ulises Solis in an IBF title fight in Guadalajara, Mexico, Sunday, Manila Time.
The scorecards didn’t quite reflect the game challenge posed by the 24 year old Filipino who shook the Mexican champion with his left hook a few times and was the aggressor at the start.
One judge inexplicably scored a 120-108 shutout while another judge gave Oliva two rounds turning in a 118-110 scorecard while the third gave the Filipino youngster one round in a 119-109.
Fears of another Filipino being fed to the lions because of the short, four-week notice given him to take the fight proved unfounded solely because of Oliva’s remarkable ability to absorb punishment and his incredible fighting heart which won him the respect of the champion and Mexican fight fans for a brave effort.
Promoter Sammy Gello-ani told the Daily Inquirer after the bout that while Oliva had “no injury or traces of a swollen face, Solis had a cut on his left eye with blood running from his nose.”
He said Solis “cried after the twelfth round knowing he was ahead on points even as he did not expect such a hard fight from an unknown opponent.” Gello-ani noted that while there were no knockdowns in the fight there were some low blows thrown by Solis who “was warned for a low blow in the very first round.”
The well-known promoter said it was "an exciting fight in which Oliva absorbed all the best shots of Solis and even caught him with some solid punches in the 2nd, 5th, 7th and 10th rounds."
Oliva caught Solis with his best punch, a left hook to the head and body in the early rounds but Solis used his left jab and his counter-punching skills to thwart Oliva and to quickly turn the fight around.
Oliva’s inexperience and his go-for-broke style played into the hands of Solis who nailed him with cracking combinations every time Oliva lunged wildly and missed.
A series of uppercuts and body shots took the sting out of Oliva in round ten forcing him to clinch but the courageous Filipino continued to fight back.
Solis who was cut above the eye by what was believed to be an accidental clash of heads was making the first defense of the title he regained in a rematch with Argentina’s Luis Alberto Lazarte last April after having lost the title to another Filipino, Brian Viloria, in a stunning 11th round knockout at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on April 19, 2010.
With the loss the 24 year old Oliva who was fighting for the first time abroad dropped to 17-1-1 with 11 knockouts while Solis who turned 30 today, improved to 34-2-3 with 21 knockouts.
The overall consensus among Filipino fight fans was that Oliva was too raw and inexperienced to be matched against a wily veteran like Solis and that while he showed some promise his management needs to retain the services of a better trainer if Oliva is to make any headway in his career.