Julio and Rivera engage in war

By Ramon Rodriguez @ ringside


Julio and Rivera engage in war

In a possible candidate for fight-of-the-year, at least on a non-world championship level, welterweight wunderkind Joel Julio outlasted a late comeback by veteran Cosme Rivera en route to a split decision win at the Miccosukee Resort and Casino in Miami, FL on Friday. Julio (28-1, 24 KOs), who was knocked down in the final seconds of the twelfth round, won by scores of 115-112, 114-113, 112-115.

After suffering a disappointing loss to Carlos Quintana this past June, many questioned whether Julio was an actual contender or an over-hyped prospect with heavy hands. By defeating the rugged Rivera in arguably his toughest and closest fight to date, Julio believes he’s proved his worth as a certified player at 147 pounds.

“Tonight I proved I’m one of the best welterweights in the world by beating a very respectable opponent. He’s very tough. I didn’t expect the bout to be as hard as it was, but God guided me to victory,” said Julio. “I prepared so hard for this fight because the loss to Quintana showed me I’m not invincible. It showed me I have to work really hard to stay up. It showed me talent alone won’t help you make it.”

In the first round, both men circled one another with careful jabs, hoping to figure out the other fighter.

In rounds two through five, the quicker Julio settled down and began landing more frequently, working off a crisp jab. Though Rivera landed several powerful body shots, Julio managed to deflect or dodge many of his foe’s punches.

Though Julio started slowing down by the sixth and seventh rounds, he continued trading bombs with Rivera in the middle of the ring. In round eight, Julio wobbled and backed up Rivera with a fierce left hook.

Time was halted in the early seconds of the ninth round after Rivera suffered a nasty cut to the forehead due to an accidental head-butt. When the action resumed, Rivera jumped on Julio and continued digging to the body.

By the tenth round, though Rivera was bleeding heavily, he constantly backed up Julio with hard body shots and hooks to the head.

Both fighters traded big shots in the eleventh round, though Rivera seemed to have Julio visibly hurt.

In the twelfth round, Julio stalked Rivera, though he caught too many punches, including the one that knocked him down as the fight drew to a close. After putting down his younger opponent, Rivera furiously attacked Julio, who held on till the bell rang.

“I was really hurt in the eleventh and twelfth rounds. Rivera landed a lot of body shots, which took its toll on me. Had I not trained so hard for this fight, I wouldn’t have been able to suck it up the way I did,” said Julio. “Cosme Rivera is a beast. He has a lot of stamina and he can take punches really well. He’s a boxer with a lot of depth and experience, but that wasn’t enough to beat me. Tonight, my youth and desire to win outweighed all of his experience.”

However, Rivera blatantly disagrees. He believes he was short-changed in a fight where he was the designated loser from the moment the fight was made.

“I didn’t lose—this decision is a flat-out robbery. If the judges knew anything about boxing, they’d see that I won tonight. But I wasn’t favored to win. That’s what happens when people play favorites,” said Rivera. “I was never hurt as bad as I hurt him. Why, the judges were harder than Julio. But what can I do? I can’t fight the judges and the fighter. Still, there’s no sense in feeling bad about what happened tonight. I have to move on.”

Regardless of who won the close match, one thing is for certain: both fighters will definitely get another opportunity to showcase their skills on national television due to the abundance of talent in the welterweight division. With several key names, such as Carlos Baldomir, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Kermit Cintron, Carlos Quintana, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, and Paul Williams, fighting in the upcoming weeks, it should be interesting to see if Julio and Rivera somehow manage to fight for a title or an elimination spot.

As for Julio, he’s taking on all comers. “I’d like to be back in December. Maybe December 16,” said Julio. “I’ll fight anybody, anywhere. It doesn’t matter who it is. I’ll let my promoters pick the name.”