By Francisco Salazar
LOS ANGELES - The veteran still has it.
In a crossroads bout, Rene Alvarado proved he is still a fringe junior lightweight contender, stopping Roger Gutierrez in the seventh round Friday night.
Alvarado, who hails from Managua, Nicaragua, improves to 26-8, with 18 KOs. Gutierrez, who hails from Venezuela, drops to 15-1-1, with 12 KOs.
The Venezuela-born Gutierrez was taking a major step-up in opposition against Alvarado, who was a featherweight contender before losing to the likes of Rocky Juarez, Joseph Diaz, and Eric Hunter.
After an even opening round, Alvarado began to connect with an abundant of punches, mostly to the head of the taller Gutierrez.
By the midway point of the bout, Alvarado's punches began to wear down Gutierrez, who's punch output diminished with each passing round.
Alvarado pressed the action late in the fight and the accumulation of punches was enough for Gutierrez's corner to throw in the towel, prompting referee David Mendoza to stop the fight at 1:34.
Featherweight Edgar Valerio remained unbeaten with an eight round unanimous decision over Jairo Ochoa. Valerio (11-0, with 6 KOs) dropped Ochoa towards the end of the opening round. As he went on the attack, Valerio was caught with a left hook to the head, dropping him to the canvas. Moments later, Valerio dropped Ochoa with a left hook of his own. Ochoa (18-12, with 9 KOs) spent most of the fight looking to load up and land a left hook to the head, prompting Valerio to initiate and connect with two-three punch combinations. Scores were 80-71, 80-71, and 79-72 in favor of Valerio, who is managed by Joel De La Hoya.
Bantamweight Joshua Franco (12-0, with 6 KOs) won a unanimous decision over Antonio Rodriguez. Franco had to deal with Rodriguez's longer reach and height advantage, but he was the sharper fighter throughout most of the fight. Rodriguez (8-16, with 3 KOs) was able to find success on the inside, landing straight right hands, but Franco was busier and connected more during the second half of the fight. All three judges scored the bout 60-54 in favor of Franco.
Junior welterweight Cristobal Ortiz (2-0, with 1 KO) stopped Ronald Rodriguez in the second round. Rodriguez, who had not fought in almost three years, looked spent entering the second round. Rodriguez (1-6, with 1 KO) was dropped by a combination to the head. After getting up, he stumbled forward, where Ortiz simultaneously landed a left hook to the head. Rodriguez dropped face-first to the canvas, prompting referee David Mendoza to stop the bout at 1:47 of round two.
Unbeaten middleweight Meiirim Nursultanov (3-0, with 2 KOs) destroyed veteran Lanny Dardar in the opening round. A right-left combination staggered Dardar about midway through the round. Nursultanov followed up with a left hook to the body, dropping Dardar (5-8-2, with 3 KOs) to the canvas. Referee Rudy Barragan waved the fight over at 1:47.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, RingTV.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing