Felix Alvarado had fallen short of a world title on two previous occasions, but he earned himself a third championship opportunity on Saturday when he finished off Teeraphong Utaida in three rounds in Managua, Nicaragua to become the No. 1 contender for the IBF junior flyweight title currently held by Milan Melindo.
Alvarado (29-2, 25 knockouts) was all over Utaida from the opening bell, pushing forward while moving his head to pressure the Thai contender to the ropes and firing away with combinations from all angles. Utaida (32-6-1, 17 KOs) tried to counter back but found it difficult to keep up with the pace by the midpoint of the first round, and was dropped flat on his back from a right cross followed by a hook just before the bell to end the round.
Utaida, who fights under the pseudonym Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr,, made it to his feet and came out for the second trying to discourage Alvarado’s aggression but Alvarado could smell the blood in the water. Alvarado’s left hooks to the body froze Utaida against the ropes and allowed Alvarado to chop away with right hands with precision accuracy.
The finish – which came with about 45 seconds in the round – was punctuated by a right cross which caused Utaida to slide along the ropes until his back hit the canvas, where he remained for a full minute before being helped onto his stool.
“If we didn’t win the fight there was no third chance,” said the 28-year-old Alvarado in the post-fight interview with Channel 6 in Nicaragua. “But thank God we did. We prepared very well.”
Alvarado’s two defeats came in 2013 and 2014, when he lost twelve-round decisions to Kazuto Ioka and Juan Carlos Reveco for the WBA junior flyweight and flyweight titles, respectively. Since then he’s won 12 straight. The loss was the first stoppage for Utaida, who went the distance in a competitive decision loss to Melindo in November of 2016 for the IBF interim 108-pound title.
Alvarado’s representative Ricardo Rizzo confirmed to RingTV.com that Alvarado, who was ranked number 4 previously by the New Jersey-based organization, would be the number one contender but did not know off-hand when Melindo’s mandatory would be due. “The IBF will let me know when,” said Rizzo. An email to the IBF was not answered by the time of this story’s publication.
Melindo’s promoter Michael Aldeguer of ALA Promotions confirmed to RingTV following his last fight that his next defense would be a mandatory, but said he had not heard about the elimination fight.
Melindo (37-2, 13 KOs), of Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, is coming off his first title defense against Hekkie Budler a month ago in which he survived cuts above both eyes to win a split decision and retain the belt.
“We are now working on the direction of Milan and we’ll see what’s out there for him,” said Aldeguer.
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Source:: The Ring – Boxing