by Francisco Salazar
Indio,Calif. - In crossroads fight between top light heavyweight contenders, Sullivan Barrera (18-1, 13KOs) bounced back strong from the first loss of his career by dropping previously undefeated Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (17-1, 14KOs) three times for a stoppage win in the seventh round.
For Barrera it was his first fight since losing a twelve round decision to Andre Ward in March, while Shabranskyy had stoppage wins this year over Oscar Riojas and Derrick Findley.
Both started off the fight with the jab in the first. Barrera was far more accurate with his hard shots and eventually dropped Shabranskyy with some solid hooks to the head. Shabranskyy got up on unsteady legs and continued to eat leather until the round closed.
At the start of the second, Barrera's hand were faster and finding the target much quicker. But then out of nowhere the entire tide changed when Shabranskyy decked Barrera with a combination of punches. Barrera got up and held to prevent Shabranskyy from coming back with more punches. But it was Shabranskyy who dominated the remainder of the round.
Barrera started off the third with a few hard shots that landed flush. Shabranskyy was having trouble adjusting and continued to take shots as Barrera switched up his game plan and found the right distance to shoot his punches. Barrera still had the edge in the fourth, landing a good left over and over to the chin.
In the fifth, Shabranskyy was trying to work his way in with the jab to find bigger opportunities, but Barrera was still outpunching him and starting to mix up his punches with hits to the body. In the final minute, Barrera landed a crushing right hand that dropped Shabranskyy hard. He got up and was able to last the round while taking more punches to the head.
Barrera was tagging him up with shots at the start of the sixth. The tempo continued for most the round, with Shabranskyy taking a lot of shots to the head. Shabranskyy came out with a real purpose in the seventh, pushing forward and looking to once again change the tide of the fight. Barrera was still landing with shots to the head, and then winged in a huge hook that dropped Shabranskyy hard for the third time and the boxer's corner waved off the fight.
ON THE UNDERCARD
In a battle of fringe welterweights, Rashidi Ellis scored an emphatic first round knockout win over Eddie Gomez. Ellis (17-0, 12 KOs) dropped Gomez with a right hand to the head. Gomez (19-2, 11 KOs) stood up on wobbly legs, beating the count of referee Eddie Hernandez. Ellis followed up, landing a right cross that sent Gomez to the canvas, prompting referee Eddie Hernandez to stop the bout at 1:19.
Featherweight contender Ronny Rios stopped Roy Tapia after the sixth round. After an even opening round, Rios (27-1, 12 KOs) began to assert himself over Tapia.
Rios was the aggressor, landing repeatedly with lead or counter right hands to the head. Tapia (12-2-2, 6 KOs) attempted to fight back, but his punches had little impact as Rios continued to walk the fighter from East Los Angeles down. Rios hurt Tapia midway through round six with a left hook to the body. After the sixth round, Tapia told referee Ray Corona he was not able to continue.
Junior featherweight Javier Padilla stopped Jose Mora (0-2) in the second round. Padilla (2-0, 2 KOs) dropped Mora twice in the opening round before ending matters at 44 seconds of the second round.
Junior welterweight Vergil Ortiz, Jr. (3-0, 3 KOs) scored a one-punch knockout win over Nestor Garcia (0-2). A lead right hand dropped Garcia to the canvas. Garcia remained on the canvas and was counted out at 3:00.
Unbeaten welterweight Alexis Rocha won a one-sided four round decision over Abraham Calderon (1-4). Rocha dropped Calderon once in the second round and once in the third in route to victory. All three judges scored the bout 40-34 in favor of Rocha, who improves to 6-0, 4 KOs.
Highly-regarded lightweight prospect Ryan Martin stopped Yardley Suarez in the fourth round. Martin (18-0, 11 KOs) was in control from the beginning of the fight, utilizing his strength and pinpoint accuracy to put Suarez (19-6, 10 KOs) on the defensive.
Moments into the fourth round, Martin dropped Suarez with a barrage of punches. Suarez beat the count, but was met with a barrage of punches prompting the fight to be stopped at 48 seconds.
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, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing