It was a dramatic finish to an otherwise tepid affair between heavyweights Bryant Jennings and Oscar Rivas on Friday night at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
For the better part of 11 rounds, it was a tactical bout in which neither Jennings nor Rivas really asserted himself or took too many risks.
But in the 12th round, Rivas, who had been implored by trainer Marc Ramsey to be more aggressive throughout the night, landed a series of hard right hands that staggered Jennings and sent him to the canvas early. Then, after another flurry of power punches from Rivas, Jennings was unable to defend himself, and the fight was called off less than a minute into the final round.
Rivas (26-0, 18 KOs) was ahead on two scorecards (105-104, 106-103) when the fight was waved off by referee Gary Rosato. Jennings led the other, 106-103.
"I worked hard for this fight, and this is the result we were looking for," Rivas said. "Before the beginning of the last round, my coach reminded me how hard we had worked, and that motivated me to leave everything in the last round. I saw that the combination of a hook and straight right hand was landing, and I kept throwing it until I knocked him down.
"I demonstrated that I'm unbeaten for a reason. Now after this triumph, the boxing world will know my name. This victory puts me closer to being among the elites of the division. I want to write my name in the history of Colombian boxing."
For Jennings (24-3, 14 KOs), it was a devastating loss given he was ranked by all four major sanctioning bodies -- and as high as No. 2 in the WBO -- but he seemed to take it in stride.
"It is what it is," he said.
Stevenson stops Rosales
Featherweight hopeful Shakur Stevenson kicked off his 2019 campaign by stopping Jessie Cris Rosales in four rounds, marking another impressive outing for the 2016 Olympic silver medalist.
Early in his career, the 21-year old Stevenson had problems hurting his opponents, but with added maturity has come added pop in his punches.
After boxing effectively in the first round Friday night, Stevenson (10-0, 6 KOs) began to plant his feet more in the subsequent rounds and started to work the body of Rosales (22-2-1, 10 KOs). As Stevenson became more stationary, his punches started becoming more forceful, and in the fourth round, a straight left hand sent Rosales to the canvas.
The Filipino boxer was able to rise to his feet, but referee Charlie Fitch waved off the fight.
"I stood in the pocket for basically the entire fight. I fought on the inside, I hurt him, and I knocked him out," said the Newark, New Jersey, native, who has just 10 professional bouts under his belt but is aiming for the very elite in the division.
"I want [Josh] Warrington [the IBF featherweight tilist]," Stevenson said. "I want to go to England and fight in front of the fans over there. That would be a great fight."
Sosa decisions Delgadillo
In a tougher-than-expected battle, former junior lightweight belt holder Jason Sosa had to rally in the second half of his 10-round bout with journeyman Marcos Delgadillo.
Delgadillo scored a second-round knockdown of Sosa and was beating him consistently to the punch early. But Sosa (22-3-4, 15 KOs) sent Delgadillo (17-19-2, 9 KOs) down in the seventh round with a series of body shots and took over the fight down the stretch.
After 10 back-and-forth rounds, Sosa won by scores of 97-91 (twice) and 96-92.
"I came from behind in this fight. He surprised me and knocked me down with a good punch, but I recovered and then I managed to knock him down and take control of the fight," Sosa said. "I did not have any amateur fights, so I'm still learning a lot with each fight."
As for what's next, Sosa added: "I want [WBC super featherweight champion Miguel] Berchelt. I want that title that he has. It would be another great war between Mexico and Puerto Rico."