By Jake Donovan
Jean Carlos Rivera sought to bounce back from the lone loss of his career but instead endured an even worse fate in a war with Adam Lopez. The two traded heavy fire for six plus rounds, but it was Glendale (Calif.)-bred Lopez (13-1, 5KOs) who was better equipped for combat in scoring a stunning 7th round stoppage in their ESPN+ streamed featherweight contest Saturday evening at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida.
Rivera (15-2, 10KOs) entered as the clear crowd favorite, fighting out of Orlando, Fla. by way of Bayamon, Puerto Rico and making his sixth appearance at this very venue in eight career fights in Kissimmee. The 23-year old prospect was once again in tough, not at all seeking a soft touch following his upset loss to Jason Sanchez last October.
As he watches Sanchez moves on to a title fight versus Oscar Valdez next month on ESPN, Rivera loojed to join him there after Saturday’s hard-earned win. Lopez denied him that opportunity in a big way, as the Californian sought to put his size advantage to use and walk down Rivera.
The strategy initially played right into Rivera’s hands as he was able to slip punches while remaining in the pocket. The tactic kept him well within desired punching range, flooring Lopez with a right hand in the final minute of round two. Lopez spent the remainder of the round on the defensive while Rivera uncorked uppercuts and left hooks while playing to his adoring fans in attendance.
Rivera was first to the draw throughout a furiously paced round three, landing left hooks upstairs and to the body. Lopez absorbed the shots well, but his own return fire was unable to crack Rivera’s peek-a-boo guard. He had a much better go of things in round four, as Lopez’s right hands began to slow down Rivera’s attack.
Lopez wisely kept his distance in round five, sliding back to minimize Rivera’s punch impact before darting inside with right hand shots. His long game reaped major dividends, wearing down Rivera who was on rubber legs in round six before collapsing into the ropes just as the bell sounded. The referee completely botched the call, at first signaling the round had ended before randomly issuing a count.
Lopez didn’t leave anything to chance, attacking a spent Rivera until forcing a stoppage at 0:16 of round seven.