Erika Cruz outworks Maylerin Rivas to win WBA junior featherweight belt

November 17, 2023; Los Angeles, CA; Mayerlin Rivas and Erika Cruz pose after weighing in for his or her November 18, 2023 combat on the YouTube Theater in Los Angeles, CA. Necessary Credit score: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Erika Cruz of Mexico City can now call herself a world titleholder in two weight divisions.

Cruz won by majority decision, defeating Maylerin Rivas by being the aggressor during the second half of the fight Saturday night in front of a partisan crowd at the YouTube Theatre.

One judge scored 95-95, while the other two judges scored the fight 98-92 and 97-93 for Cruz, who improved to 17-2, 3 knockouts. 

The clash between Rivas and Cruz was a compelling clash between fighters ranked by The Ring in different Female weight classes. Cruz was ranked No. 1 at 126 pounds, while Rivas was ranked No. 5 in the junior featherweight division. 

Rivas worked behind a consistent jab from the opening bell, utilizing distance to outbox Cruz, landing shorter and sharper punches to Cruz’s face. The southpaw Cruz did her best work on the inside, connecting with a counter right hook or left cross to the head of Rivas,

Beginning during the third round, Cruz closed the distance between the two. The tactic allowed her to connect more, especially with a series of right hooks to the head during the fourth round. 

During the middle rounds, Cruz moved in towards Rivas, inadvertently butting heads with Rivas. There were times where Rivas was able to counter Cruz flush to the head with a hook or uppercut. 

Both had their moments during the sixth round, producing exchanges where Rivas and Cruz connected punches. Again, Cruz initiated exchanges, but Rivas continued to stay in the pocket in an attempt to counter, finding success by connecting to Cruz’s head.

Cruz increased her aggression with each passing round during the second half of the fight. She was able to connect more, but Rivas managed to connect more, including a series of right crosses to the head in round nine. Cruz continued to plod forward, doing her best work by trapping Rivas in a corner, unleashing a barrage of punches, some of which connected.

Both had their moments during the final round until the final bell sounded. Rivas and Cruz embraced afterwards. 

“Rivas is a counter puncher and a great champion,” said Cruz in a post-fight interview. “I was the better fighter (tonight). Boxing is about throwing punches (though).”

Cruz, a former WBA Female world featherweight titleholder, last fought on September 15, defeating Melissa Oddessa Parker by unanimous decision.

In her previous fight on February 4, the 33-year-old Cruz lost by unanimous decision to Amanda Serrano in an action fight. Serrano became the undisputed featherweight champion with the win over Cruz. 

Rivas, who resides in Maracaibo, Venezuela, falls to 17-5-3, 11 KOs. The 35-year-old won the WBA title in February 2020, defeating Laura Ledezma by unanimous decision. 

In her previous fight on June 10, Rivas fought to a technical draw against unbeaten Nazarena Romero. 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]

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