LAS VEGAS – Ricardo Sandoval didn’t squander an opportunity to remain active while waiting on a due title shot.

The current IBF flyweight mandatory contender took the best that Nicaragua’s Carlos Buitrago had to offer, giving back far worse in return en route to a seventh-round stoppage. No knockdowns were scored, though Sandoval systemically broke down Buitrago before stopping him on his feet at 0:46 of round seven Saturday afternoon at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

The bout was put together on short notice as a means to get both fighters in the ring. Sandoval was able to bide his time ahead of a shot at the IBF flyweight title shot, putting in work against a veteran former challenger on the wrong side of his prime. Buitrago was well intentioned at the start, able to land his jab and right hand though at the expense of getting peppered by Sandoval with crisp power shots, particularly his left hook to the body and straight right hand upstairs.

Sandoval occasionally switched to southpaw, equally as effective as he was in an orthodox where he remained for the balance of the fight. Buitrago was willing in spirit but unable to physically maintain pace with the streaking contender. Sandoval closed the show early in round seven, connecting with body shots and straight punches upstairs before referee Robert Hoyle halted the contest.

Buitrago (32-7-1, 18KOs) accepted the fight on short notice, having not fought since a 12-round loss to then-WBO junior flyweight titlist Elwin Soto last October 30. The four-time title challenger suffered from dehydration and was forced to withdraw from a fight with reigning WBO strawweight titlist Wilfredo ‘Bimbito’ Mendez mere days ahead of their planned August 14 meet. Saturday’s affair at a healthier weight didn’t change his luck as Buitrago has now lost five of his last seven fights and has not beaten an opponent with a winning record since October 2016.

Sandoval suffered his lone career defeat around that time, having since won 16 in a row including Saturday’s verdict. The fight was his first since an eighth-round stoppage of former title challenger Jay Harris in their IBF flyweight title eliminator this past June 25 in Bolton, England. Sandoval will now await the winner of the December 11 title fight between defending IBF champ Sunny Edwards (16-0, 4KOs) and Jayson Mama (16-0, 9KOs), with the hope of next challenging the winner should the sanctioning body enforce back-to-back mandatory title defenses.  

Sandoval-Buitrago opened a nine-fight card headlined by the lightweight title consolidation clash between WBC World champ Devin Haney (26-0, 15KOs) and WBC interim titlist Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz Jr. (32-1-1, 15KOs). The scheduled 12-round main event airs live on DAZN.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox