Fans and countrymen were out early to support the title bout between Puerto Rico’s Subriel Matias and Australia’s Liam Paro for Matias’ IBF junior welterweight title defense, but despite their fervor, none of the fights on the televised undercard delivered a show-stopping knockout.

Flyweight Yankiel Rivera won a 10-round unanimous decision over Victor Sandoval in the co-feature at Coliseo Juan Aubin Cruz Abreu in Manati, Puerto Rico. The scores were 98-91, 98-91, and 97-92. 

Rivera (6-0, 2 KOs), 26, of Puerto Rico, was credited with a knockdown of Mexico’s Sandoval (37-5, 23 KOs), 26, in the first round. But the replay appeared to show it was a slip as his glove touched the canvas. It wound up being a foreshadowing moment, if immaterial to the outcome.

Rivera’s left hands were landing well, and a body shot in the third round seemed to take some of Sandoval’s fighting spirit. Rivera, a 2020 Puerto Rican Olympian, found his rhythm and broke down Sandoval.

Rivera has now fought and won in two 10-round fights in his first six professional bouts, putting him close to a world title opportunity. Currently, he is ranked No. 3 by the WBA and No. 13 by the WBC.

For Sandoval, this marks a career-worst two-fight losing streak, as he most recently lost to Ricardo Sandoval in October.

Alfredo Santiago (15-2, 6 KOs), a Dominican-born junior welterweight who now resides in Puerto Rico, had possibly the best night of his career, winning a 10-round decision over world-ranked Mexican fighter Angel Fierro (22-2-2, 17 KOs). The scores were 99-91, 98-92 and 98-92.

Former world titleholder and veteran broadcaster Sergio Mora noted during the telecast that Santiago, 29, was “oozing with confidence,” and Santiago’s conditioning allowed him to outbox Fierro, 25, who struggled to catch him.

Santiago entered the fight as a nearly 3.5-to-1 underdog on some sportsbooks, yet the action didn’t reflect that figure. Santiago boxed powerfully, being evasive while landing big power shots, while Fierro failed to make any adjustments. Fierro had a strong ninth round, which was matched by Santiago landing thunderous shots as the crowd roared in approval – a round that could be considered a round of the year contender. 

Santiago is now on a two-fight win streak, having knocked out former decorated amateur boxer Karl Dargan in one round in 2022. The loss is damning for Fierro, who knocked out former world champion Alberto Machado in 2021 and was unbeaten in seven fights leading into this bout. When the verdict was announced, Fierro sat on his stool, seemingly admitting defeat.

Undefeated women’s welterweight Stephanie Pineiro (7-0, 2 KOs), of Puerto Rico, defeated Diana Tapia (7-2, 2 KOs), of Mexico via a 10-round unanimous decision. The scores were 100-90, 100-90 and 99-91.

Pineiro, a 33-year-old southpaw, started at lightweight and moved up to welterweight after two pro fights and a nearly three-year layoff, from 2020 to 2022, while Tapia, 30, had previously fought as heavy as super middleweight. Pineiro’s boxing ability won her the fight, as she was able to move around the ring freely and display her dominant boxing skills, superior speed and athleticism.

In the opening bout, undefeated junior welterweight William Ortiz (6-0, 4 KOs), of Puerto Rico, won a six-round unanimous decision over Carlos Mitzael (6-3, 3 KOs), also from Puerto Rico.

Ortiz, a 20-year-old, 6-foot southpaw, won via scores of 60-52, 60-52 and 59-53. Ortiz’s effective use of a jab and straight left hand at distance was key to his victory.

Ortiz dropped Mitzael, 31, twice. A straight left hand floored Mitzael in the fifth round, which looked decisive, but he refused to be stopped. The fight changed when the fighters exchanged power shots from their trailing hands, resulting in a cut over Ortiz’s eye in the fifth round.

The decision victory snapped a two-fight knockout streak for Ortiz, as he went the distance for the first time since April 2023.

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