ESPN results: Joet Gonzalez edges Rafael Rivera in split decision win
After 10 competitive rounds of featherweight action, Joet Gonzalez edged Rafael Rivera on the cards and received a split decision win, Friday night, to remain unbeaten. The fight was the main event of a Golden Boy Promotions card held at the Novo at L.A. Live, in downtown Los Angeles, California.
“I felt like I dominated the majority of the fight, at least seven of the rounds,” said Gonzalez afterward. “This was definitely my toughest fight, going all the 10 rounds. I’m satisfied with my performance, and I’m happy to have this new belt. I’ll fight anyone at 126 for a world title – that’s what I want! I feel great and it was a pretty exciting fight!”
As Gonzalez put it, the contest was exciting, thanks to its overall competitiveness and heated exchanges that sporadically got the small crowd riled up. Dominating the majority of the fight, however, is another topic that Rivera pondered, post-fight.
“I feel good. He never hurt me,” proclaimed Rivera. “This is boxing. I came from Tijuana, so I knew this would happen. This is what happens when you go into someone’s backyard. I felt I won the fight. Utilizing my distance and landing counter punching were keys to winning this fight. I’m fine with my performance and my preparation.”
Gonzalez, 20-0 (11), took a round to get into the fight, and, in that first stanza, was willing to let Rivera get off some shots, in order to feel his power. Gonzalez wasn’t unnerved in those instances, when he shelled up and gave Rivera the opportunity to let his hands go, but not throwing back wasn’t doing him any favors. Rivera implemented some good body work in the second that seemingly woke up Gonzalez, and forced him to pump the jab that had been missing until the third. Once he started to put punches together, it was clear that Gonzalez was getting more effective and not even the sporadic counters from Rivera were going to stop him, going downhill. Yet those instances were too few and far between for Gonzalez to take control of the fight, especially after a fifth round, in which he rarely threw a single punch.
Rivera, 25-2-2 (16), benefited from that fifth, after being allowed to get a rhythm going, and perhaps Gonzalez knew he had to make up for this in the sixth. In the final minute of that round, the two took part in some of the best exchanges of the fight. They went toe-to-toe relentlessly until the final bell, and Gonzalez, of course, got the better of Rivera. That round, along with a handful of others, was tough to score, and so were those proceeding it until the tenth. In that span, it became a classic case in which Rivera out-threw Gonzalez consistently but Gonzalez landed the cleanest shots, particularly to the body.
Before the 10th, Gonzalez, Glendora, California, was compelled to rev up the crowd just before the bell rang, seemingly knowing he needed it for any chance to win. Gonzalez delivered on his genuflected promise, in those final three minutes, but with Rivera able to bend – not break – and fight back well, even that round could have those judging it scratching their heads.
Scores of 96-94 in favor of both Rivera and Gonzalez made for a tense third score to be read. It was 97-93 for Gonzalez, and it clinched the victory and a vacant WBO featherweight trinket was draped over his shoulder as a result.
Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada turned in a tremendous body shot knockout of Jhosep Vizcaino, 7-7 (3), in the third round to keep her record perfect. The female junior flyweight contest was scheduled for eight two-minute rounds.
“I had a great camp. I worked on sharpening and shortening up my punches,” Estrada, 14-0 (4), said. “As you can see, the hard work in camp paid off. I’m getting more comfortable in the ring because I’m now with a promoter. Golden Boy Promotions is keeping me busy, so I’m fighting more consistently. Having me stay busy is the most dangerous thing for my opponents.”
In the opening bout of the ESPN card, female middleweight prospect Maricela Cornejo forced a third round stoppage of Samantha Pill, 3-1. Fought at the super middleweight limit, the bout was scheduled for six rounds.
“I feel good,” said Cornejo, 12-2 (5). “I’m very happy with the camp we had with my head trainer Antonio Diaz. In this fight, I just had to adjust to her being six feet tall. Fighting Pill just showed only a little of what I’m capable of. I can’t wait to fight an even better opponent to show all of my capabilities.”
In the walkout bouts, Richard Acevedo, 3-0 (3), forced a third round referee stoppage of Quantavious Green, 1-3-1 (1), to keep his record perfect. The junior middleweight contest was scheduled for four rounds.
Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez, 19-2 (15), dropped German Meraz, 61-48-2 (38), once in his unanimous decision (80-71 on all three scorecards) victory in an eight-round lightweight bout.