By Stephen Tobey Worcester, Mass. – In his sixth pro fight, Richard Rivera was fighting in a main event, for a title, against one of the more experienced opponents he’s faced.
The 27-year-old from Hartford, Conn. handled it just fine, stopping Kevin Cobbs of Boston in the third round of a scheduled eight-rounder to win the vacant UBF New England light heavyweight title on Saturday at the Palladium.
Rivera (6-0, 5 knockouts) sent Cobbs to the canvas three times in the third round, with referee Jack Morrell ruling two of them knockdowns. The first official knockdown came with about 30 seconds left in the round, with a right hand that put Cobbs on a knee. After Cobbs got up, Rivera landed a right uppercut that sent Cobbs back to the canvas and dislodged his mouthpiece. Morrell stopped the fight without a count at 2:51.
“I wasn’t looking for the knockout, but I said if it comes, it comes,” Rivera said. “I could see he was slowing down a bit. He was ducking and when he overcommitted to that, it allowed me to land my uppercut.”
Rivera landed the harder punches in the first two rounds. Cobbs (10-3, 4 KO s) was more active in the second round, but Rivera landed some harder hooks and right hands to finish most exchanges.
Cobbs, 33, was fighting for the first time since Jan. 19, 2016, when current WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez stopped him.
In the co-feature, super middleweights Bobby Harris III of Worcester, Mass. and Saul Almeida of Framingham, Mass. fought to a four-round majority draw. Leo Gerstel scored the fight 39-37 for Almeida (0-8-2). Ken Volovick and Glenn Feldman scored it 38-38. Harris, the son of 1992 Olympic box-offs finalist Bobby Harris, Jr. (who was 20-2-1 as a pro heavyweight in the 1990s), is now 2-0-1 as a professional.
Troy Artis of Danbury, Conn., won a six-round majority decision against Jose Rivera of Hartford, Conn. In a super middleweight bout. Gerstel and Volovick scored it 58-56. Feldman’s card read 57-57. Artis improved to 5-7-1 (3); Rivera dropped to 4-2 (3).
Omar Bordoy, Jr. of Danbury, Conn., won a four-round unanimous decision against Seth Basler of Marion, Ill at junior welterweight. All three judges scored it 40-36 for Bordoy (4-0, 1 KO). Basler dropped to 0-5.
Wilfredo Pagan of Southbridge, Mass. stopped Bryan Abraham of Schenectady, N.Y. in the second round of a scheduled four at junior welterweight. Pagan dropped Abraham with a left in the second round. Abraham got up, but took another hard left that drilled him back into the ropes, forcing Morrell to stop the fight at 1:25. Pagan improved to 4-0 (2); Abraham dropped to 6-28-2 (6).
Derrick Whitley of Springfield, Mass. outpointed Roger Blankenship of Cleveland in a four-rounder at junior middleweight. The scores were 40-36 (twice) and 40-35. Whitley improved to 3-0 (0); Blankenship dropped to 1-3 (0).
Joseph Goss, a welterweight from Bridgeport, Conn., made his pro debut with a four-round unanimous decision against Samuel Vasquez of Montreal. Feldman scored it 38-34; Gerstel scored it 39-36 and Volovick scored it 40-35. Vasquez dropped to 1-3 (1).
Luis Rivera of Hartford, Conn. won a four-round majority decision against Carlos Marraro of Bridgeport, Conn. at junior lightweight. Feldman scored it 40-36. Volovick had it 39-37 and Gerstel scored it 38-38. Rivera climbed to 4-3 (1). Marraro dropped to 0-2.
Light heavyweights Ray Graceski of Springfield, Mass. and Pawel Bansiak of Hartford, Conn. fought to a four-round draw. All three judges scored it 38-38. Graceski left the ring at 5-0-1 (3). Bansiak was making his pro debut.
Super middleweight Jelame Garcia of Lynn, Mass. won a four-round unanimous decision against Nathan Schulte of Woburn, Mass. Feldman and Gerstel scored it 40-36. Volovick scored it 39-37. Garcia’s record is 7-0 (6). Schulte dropped to 0-5.