Topping an eventful and entertaining undercard ahead of the Ryan Garcia-Luke Campbell lightweight showdown at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Saturday night, the Alvarado twins from Nicaragua, Rene and Felix experienced contrasting fortunes, with the former losing his title to Roger Gutierrez, while the latter successfully defended his by stopping DeeJay Kriel.
The 31-year-old twins from Managua may not enjoy the high profile of the world champion Charlo twins – who box out of Houston, Texas – but the Nicaraguan duo’s rugged all-action styles invariably make for entertaining bouts.
The 31-year-old Felix, defending his IBF light flyweight title for the second time, was too powerful, too accurate and too relentless for South Africa’s Kriel from the opening bell, knocking him down in the second and fourth rounds.
Despite often looking overwhelmed by Alvarado’s superior strength and firepower, Kriel was never discouraged and kept ceaselessly swinging, even when it was apparent he was pursuing a lost cause.
A typically powerful Alvarado flurry at the end of the ninth round almost had Kriel out on his feet, but the 25-year-old somehow survived. However, soon after the beginning of the tenth, it became clear that Kriel’s brave resistance was virtually extinguished. With his head once again being snapped back by fierce Alvarado punching, the referee mercifully halted proceedings.
Compubox punch stats told the story of an exciting encounter – Alvarado landing 296 of the 800 he threw, while Kriel threw an impressive 944, but landed with only 159, a far lower percentage.
With the victory, Alvarado advances to 36-2 (31 KOs), while Kriel is now 16-2-1 (8 KOs). A battle between Alvarado and any of the 108lb-ers currently ranked above him by Boxing Social (Kenshiro Teraji and Hiroto Kyoguchi of Japan and Carlos Canizales of Venezuela) would appear to guarantee action and excitement.
The next bout in the ring saw Rene Alvarado, who upset Andrew Cancio to win the WBA super featherweight title just over 13 months ago, defending his crown against Venezuelan Roger Gutierrez, who he had previously stopped in seven back in 2017.
It was to prove a dramatic and ultimately emotional contest which ended in victory for the underdog Gutierrez, who lost his mother to cancer in November and somehow conjured a final round knockdown to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The 25-year-old Gutierrez started well, competing on even terms throughout rounds one and two. Round three changed the complexion of the fight, with Gutierrez exploding an uppercut on to Alvarado’s jaw and flooring the champion heavily. With his legs unsteady, a desperate Alvarado tried to rally, only to be floored a second time soon after.
With the fight seemingly at his mercy, Gutierrez attempted to close the show, but Alvarado fought back, cleared his head and landed a couple of decent right hands of his own before the end of the round.
With a 10-7 round against him, Alvarado needed to fight back and so he did. Maintaining a consistently aggressive pace and work rate, and using a high guard to thwart many of Gutierrez’s attacks, he recovered well and appeared to have taken control of the fight through the middle and championship rounds.
A big Alvarado left hook in round six seemed to symbolise the swing in momentum; although Gutierrez was always competitive, it was Alvarado who was looking the hungrier and more active. Going into the final round it seemed the Nicaraguan had edged ahead.
Gutierrez needed a big final round to spring the upset and – dramatically, unexpectedly – he found it. A sweet left hook through Alvarado’s guard floored the Nicaraguan for the third time and although he regained his footing the resulting 10-8 round in Gutierrez’s favour ensured a new champion was crowned via three unusually unanimous and identical scorecards of 113–112.
A rubber match between this well-matched duo is surely the natural next step for both.