Mayerlin Rivas hopes to set her own record straight against Erika Cruz-Hernandez
For every unblemished record in boxing there is a deceptive record held by a boxer whose talents are far greater than what those numbers convey.
Venezuelan junior featherweight titlist Mayerlin Rivas is one of them.
For years, “La Monita” took on all comers in the Latin American circuit, traveling around and settling in Argentina and Colombia occasionally in her search for greater opportunities. And now she gets ready to make her US debut to defend her WBA trinket against former featherweight titlist Erika Cruz-Hernandez at the YouTube Theater in Inglewood, California during the Pacheco-Coceres undercard.
It’s a huge opportunity for her, and she knows it.
“We have trained very well in Colombia for two and a half months”, said Rivas (14-4-3, 11 knockouts), currently rated at No. 5 at junior featherweight, during a phone interview. “Erika did a great job against (Ring featherweight champion Amanda) Serrano and that gave her a great name. But we’re not feeling the pressure. On the contrary, she will be my stepping stone for my next steps.”
Confidence, as it can be seen, is not something that Rivas lacks. Her desire is palpable in every one of her fights, and watching her storm out of the corner with her sights set on her opponents with a mix of ferocity and focus is something to behold. But that doesn’t mean that she had her share of heartbreaks along the way.
“My fight against Nazarena (Romero, in Buenos Aires back in June) could have gone on, but it was a shame that it was in Argentina and they stopped it because we had already knocked her down and we had settled on a good pace. It didn’t affect my confidence at all. The result was not what I expected but this is how things are.
That fight with Romero, which was stopped in the third round due to cuts caused by an accidental clash of heads, is one of many instances in which Rivas drew the short stick in a fight that she was on her way to dominate. And part of those four losses can be attributed to moments of bad luck or home-cooked decisions.
“They say my record is deceiving, because I have fought against great fighters, and I can say I lost with great fighters as well,” said Rivas, who has lost against Yasmin Rivas and former pound-for-pound entrants Marcela Acuña and Daniela Bermudez. “But if you top to see the fights you can see that it wasn’t always the case. Against (former champ Zulina) Muñoz, I sent her to the canvas three times and they gave me a draw. I beat Acuña by a mile but the fight was in Argentina and she had her hand raised at the end. But I think that God’s timing is perfect, and if I didn’t win those fights it’s because they had something positive to teach me.
Against Cruz-Hernandez (16-3, 3 KOs), rated at No. 1 at featherweight by The Ring, Rivas will need all the timing, the teachings and the experience she can muster. A tough-as-nails punching machine who is also known to charge with her head a lot, Rivas will have to work extra hard to keep her distance and use her superior speed and mobility to turn back the Mexican’s challenge, the third of Rivas’ reign (which started with her win over Laura Ledezma in 2020).
Rivas is confident that she will succeed.
“We are going to work at a distance,” said Rivas. “I am a technical fighter but I do have punching power and I have many resources to win this fight. We worked on all the mistakes that Cruz makes, which are plenty, and we will focus on those. And of course, I hope the result will favor me, and our team knows that we will be victorious because we worked hard for that.
“This is my debut in the United States and it is a good opportunity to show our hard work, and we’re going to use that to keep our reign alive.”
Diego M. Morilla writes for The Ring since 2013. He has also written for HBO.com, ESPN.com and many other magazines, websites, newspapers and outlets since 1993. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He has won two first-place awards in the BWAA’s annual writing contest, and he is the moderator of The Ring’s Women’s Ratings Panel. He served as copy editor for the second era of The Ring en Español (2018-2020) and is currently a writer and editor for RingTV.com.