Richie Rivera seemed to have overcome the odds to grab his most significant career victory with a surprising performance over a sluggish Badou Jack.
Not to be.
‘Popeye, The Sailor Man’ avoided most of Jack’s haymakers and rode his luck until the final bell. But this is Saudi Arabia, and the fight wasn’t without controversy.
Jack needed a knockout with six minutes left and was afforded a four-minute round in the eighth to aid him in getting the job done.
A native of neighboring Dubai and a friend of the organizers, Jack seems to get preferential treatment from the officials.
In the end, Rivera got robbed by a split decision, which Jack embarrassing took in front of a bemused empty crowd.
Judges carded 96-94 twice to Jack and the opposite to Rivera. At best, Rivera won 97-93.
Jack said: “I think I did enough. He was very awkward, but I got the job done.
“Sometimes it’s hard to fight a guy who’s just surviving and trying to hold. I’ll step my game up for the next one.”
Rivera: “I believe I did enough. I believe in the justice system. Watch out. I’m a force to be reckoned with.
“I out-boxed him ninety percent of the boxing fight.”
Home favorite Ziyad Almaayouf won his pro debut in a total mismatch against Jose Alatorre. Despite both making their first outings in the paid ranks, they were worlds apart, and there was only ever going to be one result.
Inevitably the end came in the first round.
Ramla Ali may have been making history, but her opponent wasn’t worthy of lacing up a pair of gloves.
A complete mismatch ended with one punch in the first round.
Before the main card, Briton Ben Whittaker won a points decision over Petar Nosic to score the second win of his pro career.
Cards read 60-54 and 59-55 [twice] after six sessions.
Rashed Belhasa, aka Money Kicks, lost his pro debut via a decision against Traycho Georgiev. Despite never winning a fight as a pro, Georgiev had too much for the YouTuber who was once linked to facing Floyd Mayweather.
Belhasa embarrassed himself and certainly had no business being sanctioned to fight with his ability.
Andrew Tabiti, another fighter with Mayweather links, won a fifth-round stoppage after his opponent James Wilson failed to come out for the sixth.
Ukrainian light-heavyweight Daniel Lapin won every round of his fight with Josef Jurko.