Twins Rene and Felix Alvarado were both involved in terrific fights to get 2021 going for the sport of boxing, but the Nicaraguans had different outcomes on today’s Garcia-Campbell card from Texas.
Felix retained his IBF junior flyweight title with a win over DeeJay Kriel via 10th round stoppage, but that was followed by Rene losing a razor-thin decision to Roger Gutierrez.
Rene dropped the WBA’s “world” title at junior lightweight with the defeat, which came on scores of 113-112 across the board, an outcome made possible by a 12th round knockdown from Gutierrez, which gave him a 10-8 round and the unanimous one-point victory. Gutierrez had also dropped Alvarado twice in the third round, but Alvarado came back to win many rounds from there, which kept the fight close and the outcome debatable.
Gutierrez put on the pressure in Round 3 pic.twitter.com/dz7Y6yuJEe— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) January 2, 2021
Bad Left Hook scored the bout 113-112 for Gutierrez on Wil Esco’s card, and I had it 114-111 for Alvarado, with two swing rounds going his way, and if you take those two rounds the other direction, it’s 113-112 Gutierrez for me, too. This is a controversial decision in that you can debate it, but it’s far from a robbery or something to be outraged about, at least in my view.
Alvarado (32-9, 21 KO) had won the WBA belt from Andrew Cancio in Nov. 2019, after having lost by stoppage to Cancio in 2015. He now passes it to Gutierrez (25-3-1, 20 KO), who was stopped by Alvarado in 2017. Boxing can be a funny sport in this way. Fighters like Cancio and Alvarado and Gutierrez can get on rolls, someone can have a good or tough night, and things happen.
Felix Alvarado TKO-10 DeeJay Kriel
A great fight, the first great fight of 2021. This looked early like Alvarado (36-2, 31 KO) would bowl over Kriel (16-2-1, 8 KO) in short order, as he dropped the South African in the second and fourth rounds, and had time to get the stoppage in both of those.
But Kriel, a former 105-pound titlist, just wouldn’t go away, and made this fight close as it went on. By the time it was stopped in the 10th round, when referee Mark Calo-oy stepped in with Kriel still on his feet but getting hammered, Bad Left Hook had it 86-83 and 87-82 for Alvarado, but you really could have argued it to 85-84, too. Kriel did a terrific job peppering Alvarado, who gassed out a bit in the middle rounds especially, and keeping himself in this fight, and his trainer Derrick Harmon gave unusually good advice in the corner between every round.
Punch stats weren’t close here, with Alvarado out-landing Kriel 289-158 overall and landing at a 36 percent clip to Kriel’s 17 percent overall, but they don’t tell the story of this fight. This was good, hard-hitting stuff, a war of attrition where Kriel’s legs just went fully out before Alvarado’s did. It was an excellent display of heart and guts from Kriel in defeat, and a great show of power and determination from Alvarado in victory.
"You're a f****** warrior!"— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) January 2, 2021
Felix Alvarado consoles Deejay Kriel pic.twitter.com/2BXxpNegR8
“I knew this would be a tough fight,” said Alvarado. “He was a mandatory challenger and a former world champion, so I knew it would be tough. I got a bit tired, but that was because of his experience. I also dropped him with a hook, and I didn’t even expect for a punch like that to land. But rather than keep looking for that punch, I kept pushing him to the ropes to wear him down.
“I’m very happy to obtain this win because it is a dream come true for the Alvarado brothers to fight on such a big card together. I want any of the other world champions so I can show who is the best in the division.”
Raul Curiel TKO-2 Ramses Agaton
A pretty easy wipeout for the 25-year-old Curiel (9-0, 7 KO), a 1471/54 prospect who was looking to fight at 147 for this date, but they had trouble securing an opponent, eventually settled on Agaton (22-13-3, 12 KO) about a week out, and they had to settle on the weight, too.
As a junior middleweight, Curiel will be a little small. As a welterweight, physically he should be fine. He’s a good prospect, not a mega blue chipper or anything, but places punches well, has power, fights with aggression. He dropped the 30-year-old Agaton in the first round and pretty much just battered him until the corner stopped it about midway into the second.
“I felt really good and strong,” said Curiel. “I felt that my opponent was a bit heavy. But I’m happy that I was able to deliver a great performance. I’m ready for any opponent that they bring to me at welterweight.”
Sean Garcia MD-4 Rene Marquez
The younger Garcia brother, Sean (6-0, 2 KO) is not the prospect that Ryan is, and there’s no point in beating around the bush about it. But in his defense, somewhat, he was fighting at 135 pounds here to get active, and he’s really a 126-pounder.
That said, he had some problems here, and there are plenty of reasons to come out of this with a lack of faith in his potential, in all honesty. He’s 20, so he’s very young, and he’s in the Eddy Reynoso camp, so the training will be there. We’ll see how he does going forward. This fight (scored 38-38, 39-37, and 39-37) came after a 16-month layoff. Marquez (5-6, 2 KO) gave it a real effort, really came to win, and you could easily have scored it a draw or 3-1 for Garcia, all the judging was fine, I thought. Sean gassed some in the fourth especially. But he was very realistic and reasoned after the fight, too, which is an encouraging sign.
“There were so many things going as we went into this fight,” said Garcia. “I was a bit nervous. I came off of a year-and-half layoff. I had to find my distance. It was also hard to land shots on him because of his unorthodox style. Now I just have to keep training hard and learn from my mistakes.”