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Frank Martin is Too Sharp for ‘Ali’ Rivera: Wins the Main Event at the Cosmo

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  • Frank Martin is Too Sharp for ‘Ali’ Rivera: Wins the Main Event at the Cosmo

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    By Arne K. Lang

    Las Vegas, NV -- Premier Boxing Champions was at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas tonight for their final card of the year. A trio of “eliminators” occupied the main SHOWTIME telecast.

    In the featured bout, a battle of unbeaten lightweights, Frank Martin, a 5/2 favorite, brought home the money, out-boxing Michel “Ali” Rivera in a performance that instantly uplifted him into a major player in the rich 135-pound division. A 27-year-old southpaw from Indianapolis who trains in Dallas under the tutelage of Derrick James, the trainer of Errol Spence Jr, among others, Martin was too quick for Rivera and landed the harder punches. One of those punches, an overhand right, put Rivera on the seat of his pants in the seventh round. Rivera got up fast, but was clearly buzzed.

    The judges had it 120-107, 118-109, and 117-110. Martin improved to 17-0 (12). Rivera, a Miami-based Dominican, bears a passing resemblance to the young Muhammad Ali and sports the words “Ali” on his boxing trunks. As he left his dressing room, his entourage chanted “Ali Bomaye” (which sounded like Ali Kumbaya), but he didn’t bring the spirit of Ali into the ring with him and tasted defeat for the first time after entering the bout 24-0 (14).

    Co-Features

    Super middleweight Vladimir Shishkin, a 31-year-old Detroit-based Russian, trained by SugarHill Steward, stayed undefeated at `14-0 (8 KOs) with a unanimous decision over Venezuela’s Jose Uzcategui (32-5). The scores were 115-113 and 117-111 twice.

    Styles make fights and although these two were evenly matched, it was an inartistic fight marred by excessive clinching. Shishkin and his promoter Dmitriy Salita have been campaigning for a match with Canelo Alvarez. It’s back to the drawing board for Uzcategui who was out-pointed by Caleb Plant in a bid for a vacant 168-pound world title and lost out on a chance to fight David Benavidez when he tested positive for a banned substance.

    Vincent Astrolabio, a 25-year-old Filipino bantamweight, made a strong impression in his U.S. debut, scoring three knockdowns en route to a sixth-round stoppage of Russia’s Nikolai Potapov.

    A counter right hand knocked Potapov to the canvas in the opening round. He wasn’t hurt, but the sweeping counter left that put him down in round five was a harsher punch. In a delayed reaction, Potapov took a knee. In the next stanza, a right uppercut caused Potapov to bounce off the ropes. It was properly called a knockdown and the Russian stayed down for the count.

    Astrolabio (18-3, 13 KOs) was a relative unknown until his previous assignment when he upset Guillermo Rigondeaux, winning a unanimous decision. Potapov, who fights out of Brooklyn and Moscow, falls to 23-3-1.

    Other Bouts of Note

    In a 10-round contest between super lightweights, Omar Juarez had three points deducted for low blows but outclassed Austin Dulay, winning by scores of 96-91 twice and 94-93.

    A well-regarded prospect from Brownsville, Texas – undercard ring announcer Miguel Flores introduced him as a rising star – Juarez improved to 14-1 (5). Nashville’s Dulay, who was once a well-regarded prospect himself, falls to 15-4. After the scores were announced, there was a little skirmish in the ring initiated by Dulay who went after Juarez, presumably still simmering over those low blows.

    In a welterweight contest slated for eight, Chicago’s Kenneth Sims Jr advanced to 19-2-1 (7 KOs) with a fifth-round stoppage of LA-based Haitian Rock Dodler Myrthil (17-2). Sims’ amateur boxing journey was chronicled in the well-received documentary “Ringside.”

    In an 8-round match that was buried on the undercard, super lightweight Bakhram Murtalaziev (21-0, 15 KOs) pitched a shutout over Mexico’s Roberto Valenzuela Jr (20-4). A 31-year-old Russian who trains in Oxnard California and is managed by Egis Klimas whose clients include Oleksandr Usyk and Vasyl Lomachenko, Murtalaziev is ranked #1 by the IBF and is next in line to fight Jermell Charlo if Charlo emerges victorious against Tim Tszyu.

    In a 4-round bantamweight contest, Joahnys Argilagos, a bronze medalist for Cuba at the 2016 Rio Olympics, scored a unanimous decision over SoCal’s Mario Hernandez. The judges had it 39-37 across the board. Argilagos (9-1, 4 KOs) was making his first start with the noted trainer Ismael Salas in his corner. Hernandez declined to 10-4-1.

    Photo credit: Esther Lin / SHOWTIME
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