Angel Fierro rose from the canvas twice en route to a stunning comeback knockout win in the sixth round against former world champion Alberto Machado as the latest chapter of an iconic Puerto Rico vs. Mexico ring rivalry was written in the Ring City USA main event, live on NBC Sports Network from Albergue Olimpico (Olympic Center) in Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Tijuana’s Fierro (18-1-1, 14 KOs) handed Machado (22-3, 18 KOs) of Rio Piedras his first professional loss in Puerto Rico, following a hot start from the former junior lightweight world champion.
Machado, 30, scored a knockdown in each of the first two rounds with well-placed right-hand counter punches. Fierro displayed a durable chin and beat the count easily both times, signaling that he was not hurt by the crunching power punches.
Fierro was down 48-45 on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage.
“I’m happy, I faced a top-notch fighter tonight in Alberto Machado,” said Fierro, who was a three-to-one underdog. “He is world-class and dropped me twice. But I am ecstatic that I was able to come back and beat a fighter of his caliber.”
The 22-year-old lightweight turned the fight around in the fourth round as he dedicated himself to a vicious body attack against Machado.
The bodywork paid dividends as he found openings throughout the fifth and sixth round, ultimately leading to a vicious left hand that sent the former titlist to the canvas for the first and only time in the fight. Fierro credited finding his second wind to his two-year-old daughter back in Mexico.
“He dropped me twice at the beginning of the fight,” added Fierro. “When I got back to my corner, I told them, ‘remind me of my daughter.’ Because with this fight, I can change her life, and that’s exactly what they did after the third round. They motivated me, and that’s exactly what I did.”
— Ring City USA (@ringcityusa) March 19, 2021
Prior to the fight, Fierro told the Ring City USA broadcast team, “the best judge is a knockout when you’re fighting in someone else’s hometown.” The Mexican warrior, who replaced undefeated prospect Hector Tanajara on one week’s notice, delivered on his promise to take matters into his own hands.
“We found a lot of gaps in Machado’s game in the sixth round,” stated Fierro. “I took advantage of them, and I turned it around. I told you in the interview (before the fight) that I didn’t come here to be a Puerto Rico tourist. I came here to win.”
Immediately preceding the main event, Ireland’s Joe Ward (3-1, 2 KOs) avenged his only professional loss with a dominating unanimous decision victory over Marco Delgado (7-2, 5 KOs) in their six-round light heavyweight tilt. In October 2019, the 15-time Irish National Champion Ward faced Delgado in his professional debut and suffered a dislocated kneecap which led to a technical knockout victory for the Turlock, Calif. native. Under the tutelage of two-division world champion Joey Gamache, the 29-year-old Ward displayed his spectacular amateur pedigree as he attempts to fast-track his pro career.
In the second fight of the telecast, Alma Ibarra (7-1, 4 KOs) earned a hard-fought unanimous decision over Maricela Cornejo (13-4, 5 KOs) in an eight-round middleweight fight. Two of the ringside judges scored seven rounds for Ibarra (79-73), while the third saw it 77-75 for the winner. Ibarra, who hails from Monterrey, Mexico, brought the fight to the Los Angeles native throughout the fight and was the far busier fighter.
“Now the world knows who Alma Ibarra is and what she is made of,” said the victor. “To everyone, I was a stranger. And to fight against someone who is very recognized worldwide in Maricela Cornejo and beat her, this opened many doors for us.”
Ibarra, 32, returned from a 16-month layoff following her first professional defeat against Raquel Miller in 2019. Ibarra, who had a successful amateur career, looked comfortable as she commanded the ring against the seasoned professional in 33-year-old Cornejo. Ibarra, a natural welterweight, was fighting at her career’s heaviest weight (156 lbs.).
“I felt very good, very strong, as this is a division that I am not used to,” said Ibarra. “I always fight in lower divisions, we had to go up two divisions to take this great opportunity, and well, I think we were not wrong to take this risk.”
In the co-main event of the evening, which kicked off the four-fight main card on NBC Sports Network, Jose “Chiquiro” Martinez (21-1-3, 14 KOs) of Mayaguez, P.R. and Israel Gonzalez (26-4-1, 11 KOs) of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, fought to a majority draw in their 10-round bantamweight affair. While one ringside judge gave Gonzalez, 24, the edge on the scorecards (96-94), the remaining two judges scored it identically at 95-95. Ring City’s unofficial scorer Steve Smoger had Gonzalez edging the hometown fighter 97-93.
“I felt his punches, but I was the superior fighter tonight,” said Gonzalez. “He might have won three rounds, but it’s OK. I’m thankful to Puerto Rico and all of the people that allowed me to be here.”
The 28-year-old Martinez did his best work on the inside as he attempted to neutralize the five-inch reach advantage of the younger Gonzalez and led on two of the scorecards through the midway point of the fight. Meanwhile, Gonzalez flashed excellent hand speed in the back-and-forth affair and stole many of the later rounds when he found his second wind. This marked the third draw for Martinez over his last seven fights and the first for Gonzalez.
“I feel happy, satisfied with the work I did,” said Martinez. “I understand that I was fighting against a strong opponent and that I won. But I pushed more. I was on top of him, but these things happen in boxing. Now it’s a matter of continuing to train, maintain myself, and seek that title opportunity.”
Following the co-main event between Martinez and Gonzalez, Ring City USA paid tribute to the late Marvelous Marvin Hagler, who died at 66 on Saturday. A member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, Hagler reigned as the undisputed middleweight champion for several years and participated in several classic bouts in the 1980s.
“The beautiful part of Marvelous Marvin Hagler, if you had the chance to be around him, is that he was authentic,” said blow-by-blow announcer Bob Papa. “Just as he was in the ring was how he treated you outside of the ring. He is truly one of the greatest champions of all time.”
Earlier in the evening, live on Twitch in the U.S. and around the world, Angel Acosta (22-2, 21 KOs) of Barrio Obrero Santurce, Puerto Rico, earned a victory on the scorecards for the first time in his professional career, earning a unanimous decision over Gilberto Mendoza (17-10-3, 8 KOs) of Baja California, Mexico, in an eight-round super flyweight fight. Fighting in Salinas’ hometown, Edwin Valentin (10-0, 9 KOs) remained perfect with a fifth-round technical knockout victory over fellow Puerto Rican Hector Marengo (7-15-4, 4 KOs). In the opening fight of the evening, Jose Roman (11-0, 5 KOs) of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, bested Roque Junco (10-8-1, 6 KOs) via unanimous decision in an eight-round welterweight fight.
Calling all the action ringside in Puerto Rico was former two-time welterweight champion Shawn Porter, joined by NBC Sports blow-by-blow commentator Bob Papa. Brian Campbell served as fight night analyst with Curran Bhatia reporting from ringside. The executive producers of tonight’s Ring City USA presentation: Machado vs. Fierro on NBC Sports Network were Eric Weinberger, Jeff Huggins & Frank Samuel. The telecast was produced by David Gibson and directed by Matt Celli.
Tonight’s full four-fight telecast will be available to watch on-demand on the NBC Sports App with authenticated sign-in.
Ring City USA returns next Thursday, March 25, on NBC Sports Network to close out its three-event residency in Puerto Rico as one of the biggest fights in women’s boxing will take center stage between the seven-division world champion and future Boxing Hall of Famer Amanda Serrano and three-division titlist Daniela Bermudez for Serrano’s WBO and WBC featherweight world titles. Follow Ring City USA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest updates, or visit www.ringcityusa.com for more information.