Felix Alvarado eager for combat, all set for IBF 108-pound title defense against DeeJay Kriel
Big-punching Felix Alvarado will put his IBF junior flyweight title on the line for the second time when he meets DeeJay Kriel at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas on Saturday.
Alvarado, who is rated No. 4 by The Ring at 108 pounds, is eager to snap a 21-month enforced hiatus due to the pandemic.
“While these have been difficult times, I am happy to finally be defending my title,” Alvarado (35-2, 30 knockouts) told The Ring through his manager, William Ramirez. “For me this is a very exciting bout due to the fact that it is my United States debut.
“I will be fighting against a great (former IBF 105-pound) champion. I’ve worked hard. I anticipate having my arm raised in victory.”
Since we last saw Alvarado defend his title by unanimous decision, against Reiya Konisha in May 2019, he’s been blighted by bad luck.
“It has been a little frustrating,” he admitted. “I was scheduled to fight a unification bout at the end of last year against [WBC titleholder] Kenshiro [Teraji] and that bout was postponed due to me having a bronchial infection.
“[The Kriel] bout was scheduled for April, a pandemic hit and we have had to wait such a long time to get it done. However, I thank God that my family and I have been able to escape the COVID-19 virus and that finally this bout will get done.”
The 31-year-old was philosophical when discussing what his South African opponent brings to the table.
“Due to the long layoff, I have had time to see some of his fights,” said Alvarado. “After studying him, there are some things we see, and I’m sure there are some things he sees.
“However, I know all fights are different, and sometimes adjustments need to be made during the fight. But, in the end, I’m sure we will both put forward our best and may the best man win.”
To prepare for this fight, Ramirez brought his charge over from Nicaragua to train in Miami with renowned Cuban coach Osmiri Fernandez for two months. He then traveled to Las Vegas to train alongside his twin brother, Rene, who will fight on the same card, for a further two months. Alvarado then returned home and completed his training under the expert eye of old sage Luis Cortes, famed for his work with the late, great Alexis Arguello.
“Everything has been fairly OK,” said Alvarado, who arrives in Dallas on December 30. “Those four months were a great experience for me. We have had access to the gym with plenty quarantine protocol. I will be ready to fight.”
Ramirez is looking forward to seeing his fighter perform on the big stage.
“Felix has looked really good in his workouts and sparring,” said Alvarado’s handler. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see an early knockout, but we are definitely ready for 12 rounds.”
Kriel turned professional in 2014. He lost his debut but rebounded to win the rematch and 13 of his next 14 fights in South Africa. He was then given the opportunity to forge a new career in America and, in his first outing stateside, came from behind to stop Carlos Licona in the final round to win the strawweight title. The 25-year-old, who sports a 16-1-1 (8 KOs) record, was unable to make weight following that win and stepped up to junior flyweight.
The DAZN telecast will be headlined by Ryan Garcia-Luke Campbell and will also include Rene Alvarado vs. Roger Gutierrez. The broadcast will begin at 3:00 p.m. ET/ 12:00 p.m. PT 8 p.m. (GMT).