By Jake Donovan
Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga (28-3, 24KOs) continues to prove it takes a world-class level talent to get the best of him.
That never stopped countryman and late replacement Ruben Cervera from fighting his heart out until being forced to quit on his stool prior to the start of the fourth round of their modified lightweight contest Saturday evening at Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, Ariz.
Both fighters hit the deck, but with Marriaga getting the best of the action in their brief affair. The Colombian slugger—whose three losses have all come in featherweight title fights with Nicholas Walters, Vasiliy Lomachenko and Oscar Valdez—scored a pair of knockdowns in round two, both coming courtesy of left hooks to the liver.
Cervera was boxing well to that point, but slowly had the fight beaten out of him through Marriaga’s dedicated body attack. Still, 21-year old brawler never stopped coming forward, even fighting through the pain of a low blow in round three to floor his countryman in that very frame. It came from a left hand as Marriaga was off balance from a missed right hand shot, but still counted as an official knockdown.
It proved to be the last hurrah for Cervera (10-2, 9KOs), who took the fight on two days’ notice. He filled in for Naciff Martinez who showed up for fight week a massive 20 pounds over the contracted limit, but couldn’t ride out the pain any longer as his corner opted to call it a night after three rounds.
"He was a last-minute opponent that came a little heavier than what I'm used to fighting, and that's why I focused on punishing the body,” noted Marriaga, who has now won three straight following back to back title fight losses to Lomachenko and Valdez. “He connected well with a solid punch and I went down, but he didn't hurt me badly.
“My plan was to punish him with body shots until he did not want to continue and finally he didn't come out to fight following third round."
The bout streamed live on ESPN+, in supporting capacity to a pair of title fight rematches to air live on ESPN. Topping the bill, Miguel Berchelt (35-1, 31KOs) attempts the fifth defense of his 130-pound belt versus Francisco Vargas, whom he dethroned in Jan. 2017.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox