By Jake Donovan
Janiel Rivera moves one step closer to securing a second crack at a major title after outpointing Israel Vazquez over 10 rounds Saturday evening in Caguas, Puerto Rico.
With the win, Rivera moves into position to eventually challenge reigning unbeaten strawweight champion Wanheng Menayothin.
The bout - which co-promoter Hector Soto described to BoxingScene.com as the most significant in the young history of Univision Puerto Rico's Boxeo Al Maximo series to date - was largely in Rivera's favor for much of the night. Vazquez had his moments but was largely outgunned by the more seasoned Rivera, who prevailed by scores of 97-92, 98-91 and 97-91.
Rivera improves to 13-2-3 (7KOs) and is unbeaten in his last four starts. The win was his first in Puerto Rico since Nov. '13, having fought in his previous four bouts before heading home Saturday evening.
Included on the road trip was a knockout loss to Adrian Hernandez in Feb. '14, in a failed bid to capture a junior flyweight belt.
It's likely his next fight will take place on the road, particularly if he is to face Menayothin, the top-rated strawweights whose wealthy backers allow him to continue to defend his title at home in Thailand.
Vazquez drops his third straight, falling to 9-3-2. The 28-year old hails from a fighting family; his brother Wilfredo Jr. and father Wilfredo Sr. are former champions.
On the undercard, Jantony Ortiz remained unbeaten after pulverizing Luis Cosme. The bout was stopped when Cosme was unable to come out for round three. Ortiz - who represented Puerto Rico in the 2012 London Olympics - moves to 5-0 (3KOs). His pro debut came last June at Madison Square Garden in New York City, on the undercard of mentor and promoter Miguel Cotto's historic World middleweight championship win over Sergio Martinez.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox