Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. – Rising lightweight contender Michel Rivera (21-0, 14 KOs) scored a highlight-reel knockout over Jon Fernandez (21-2, 18 KOs) in the eighth round of their WBA lightweight title eliminator.
“I’m so excited and beyond happy to get this win,” said Rivera. “Fernández was a strong, experienced opponent that forced me to change the game plan I had going in.”
An unbeaten Dominican fighter who now trains in Miami, Rivera seemed to take control of the action in round four, as he began to find a home for the straight right hand that would eventually end the fight. The tables turned momentarily in round six however, as Fernandez connected with a clean right hand to the head that put Rivera on the canvas for the first time in his career.
“I knew since the first round that I would have to be careful with him,” said Rivera. “He had heavy hands and was taller than me, but I was faster and more skilled overall.”
The 23-year-old was able to weather the storm brought by the Spaniard Fernandez and made it through the round despite the knockdown. After regaining his momentum in the seventh round, Rivera broke through with a decisive right hand that crumpled Fernandez early in the eighth, prompting referee Jack Reiss to wave off the bout 44 seconds in the frame. Rivera held an 87 to 76 advantage in punches landed, and connected on 37% of his power punches, compared to 27% from Fernandez.