LAS VEGAS – Michel Rivera remained in contention for a lightweight title shot Saturday night by producing a workmanlike, relatively easy points win over Jose Matias Romero.
The Dominican Republic’s Rivera controlled their 10-round junior welterweight bout with his jab and clearly was the more effective fighter in the opener of Showtime’s tripleheader from Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s Michelob ULTRA Arena. Judges Max De Luca, Lisa Giampa and David Sutherland all scored each of the 10 rounds for Rivera, 100-90.
Rivera (22-0, 14 KOs) produced a second straight victory over an opponent who entered the ring with one defeat on his record. Rivera recovered from a flash knockdown during the sixth round of his previous bout to knock out Spain’s Jon Fernandez (21-2, 8 KOs) in the eighth round of their
Following a perfect start to his career, Matias Romero (24-2, 8 KOs) lost a second straight unanimous decision against a highly rated lightweight contender. Mexico’s Isaac Cruz (21-1-1, 15 KOs) beat Matias Romero unanimously in a 12-round match March 13 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
It helped Rivera’s cause, of course, that his head trainer, Herman Caicedo, helped train Matias Romero for his fight with Cruz. Caicedo worked for nearly two months with Matias Romero and his father/head trainer, Ruben, for his subsequent bout, until Rivera and Matias Romero agreed to fight each other about month ago.
Rivera, 23, and Matias Romero, 25, continued to train at Caicedo’s gym in Miami for this fight, but at different times.
There wasn’t much drama as their 10-round bout wound down Saturday night. Matias Romero came forward for much of the 10th round, but Rivera consistently connected with his jab and remained in control of their fight.
Less than 10 seconds into the ninth round, Rivera caught Matias Romero with a left hook in the center of the ring. Rivera and Matias Romero landed during a spirited exchange with about 30 seconds to go in the ninth round.
Rivera landed a left hook to Matias Romero’s head that got his attention in the middle minute of the eighth round.
Rivera went down about 35 seconds into the seventh round, but Hoyle correctly ruled he was pushed down by Matias Romero. Matias Romero and Rivera traded right hands with about 30 seconds to go in the seventh round.
Rivera knocked Matias Romero backward with a left hook that he partially blocked late in the sixth round. Rivera stung Matias Romero with several jabs in that round as well.
Rivera’s very effective jab continued to separate him from Matias Romero throughout the fifth round. Matias Romero pressed forward, though he didn’t have as much success in those three minutes as he did during previous rounds.
Rivera continued to use his jab effectively during the fourth round. Matias Romero connected with a right-left combination with about 40 seconds to go in that fourth round.
Matias Romero landed a chopping right hand to the side of Rivera’s head with about 40 seconds to go in the third round. Rivera worked well off his jab for much of the third round, though.
Matias Romero landed a hard left to Rivera’s body barely a minute into the second round. A left hook up top by Rivera knocked Matias Romero off balance with just over 1:15 to go in the second round.
Matias Romero missed with several wild swings toward the end of the second round as well.
Matias Romero almost exclusively fought off his back foot during the first round. He landed a counter left with just over a minute to go in the opening round, but Rivera otherwise was the more effective fighter in those three minutes.
Matias Romero slipped to the canvas in a neutral corner toward the end of the first round and it was ruled as such.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.