INDIO - Rene Alvarado has been called many things throughout his career.
Journeyman, gatekeeper, contender are just a few of the labels placed on him. Saturday night, Alvarado finally got to be called world titleholder.
Alvarado avenged an earlier defeat to Andrew Cancio, stopping him after the seventh round before a shocked crowd at the Fantasy Springs Casino Resort.
With the victory, Alvarado improves to 32-8, 21 knockouts and is now the WBA junior lightweight titleholder.
Saturday's clash was a rematch of their first meeting in December of 2015, which Cancio won by stopping Alvarado in round eight.
Cancio was making the second defense of the WBA title he won from Alberto Machado on Feb. 9, overcoming a knockdown in the opening round and stopping Machado in round four. Cancio would defend the title in a rematch on June 21, stopping Machado in round three.
Since the loss to Cancio almost four years ago, Alvarado, who resides in Managua, Nicaragua, had won his next seven fights, earning a mandatory shot at the WBA title.
Cancio stated before the fight he was going to box more from the outside Saturday against Alvarado, but that plan went array as he decided to stand and trade in the center of the ring from the opening bell. That tactic worked well for Alvarado, who was able to connect with several hooks and crosses to the head and body as Cancio stood in the pocket.
During the third round, Cancio suffered a cut over his left eye, likely from a punch, where blood began oozing down into his eye. Alvarado focused his attack on Cancio's right eye, throwing and landing vicious right crosses to Cancio's head.
Cancio decided to mix his attack in round six, throwing more lead right hands and also focusing his attack to the body of Alvarado, but that tactic worked briefly. Alvarado was able to overcome Cancio, continuing to throw and land straight and counter right hands that almost shut Cancio's left eye.
After the end of the seventh round, referee Raul Caiz, Sr. decided Cancio had taken enough punishment, stopping the fight.
At the time of the stoppage, all three judges had Alvarado well ahead in the fight, 70-63, 70-63, and 69-64.
The victory comes on the 45th anniversary of Alexis Arguello becoming the first fighter from Nicaragua to win a world title belt. Arguello knocked out Ruben Olivares in the 13th round at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Cancio, who grew up in nearby Blythe and now lives and trains in Ventura, California, drops to 21-5-2, 16 KOs.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing