Angel ‘Tito’ Acosta felt like he never had the chance to show the full arsenal of his previous camp with new trainer Joel Diaz.
It can be argued that he still hasn’t been afforded the opportunity after their second fight together.
The former WBO junior flyweight titlist made quick work of fellow Boricua flyweight Janiel Rivera, earning a first-round knockout in Golden Boy Fight Night on DAZN main event Thursday evening at Fantasy Springs Special Events Center in Indio, California. A series of left hooks and right hands repeatedly snapped back the head of Rivera, forcing referee Raul Caiz Jr. to stop the contest at 1:19 of round one.
Acosta was coming off a fourth-round stoppage loss to WBO flyweight titlist Junto Nakatani in triple-digit heat last September in Tucson, Arizona. A badly bloodied nose forced the ringside physician to end the fight for fear of his safety, denying the San Juan, Puerto Rico native the opportunity to become a two-division champion.
The 31-year-old Boricua didn’t waste any time in landing back in the win column. Rivera (18-9-3, 11KOs)—a Vega Baja, P.R. native and longtime friend of Acosta outside the ring—did his best to make it a boxing match, mindful of Acosta’s heavy hands as he circled around the perimeter of the ring.
It didn’t take long for Acosta to track him down, with the fight coming to a sudden close soon thereafter. A left hook had Rivera wobbled, with a right hand driving him to the ropes. Acosta unloaded from there, working the body and then coming back up top with crushing left hooks and straight right hands. Rivera’s head snapped back on at least two occasions, enough for the referee to mercifully call a halt to the contest.
“I just wanted to show the boxing world that I am here to stay at flyweight,” Acosta said after the fight, as translated by Bryan Perez of Promociones Miguel Cotto, Acosta’s lead and co-promoter along with Golden Boy.
Acosta advances to 23-3 (22KOs) with the win, now 3-1 at flyweight after his 18-month junior flyweight title reign ended in a disputed 12th round stoppage to Elwin Soto in June 2019. He got the job done through sheer power, landing 27-of-45 total punches (60%). Rivera was 0-for-6 (0%) in his feeble effort.
The idea for Acosta is to remain active while waiting out a second opportunity at a flyweight title, though Acosta already has his next target in mind.
“I still want to become champion,” noted Acosta, whose wife Arely Mucino is an active boxer and former flyweight titlist. “I want to fight the winner of [the June 25 rematch between WBC flyweight champion] Julio Cesar Martine and McWilliams Arroyo.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox