Rising lightweight prospect Michel “La Zarza” Rivera fought for the first time in 2021 on February 27th when he stopped Anthony Mercado of Puerto Rico in 8 rounds in Los Angeles. The bout topped the FS1 broadcast that supported the Anthony Dirrell-Kyrone Davis main event that was televised by FOX.
The 22-year-old took the fight on very short notice. He was training and negotiating to potentially move up to face former 4 division champion Adrien Broner who ultimately decided to fight the unheralded Jovanie Santiago instead.
Rivera bears a resemblance to a young Muhammad Ali and the Dominican fighter is motivated to try to become a top pound for pound fighter.
“I feel really good about myself after this win. I only had a week notice for this fight after having been negotiating for a fight two divisions higher at 147. I am a true lightweight and I felt strong in the ring. The Boricua was a warrior who was strong and had a good punch,” Rivera told BoxingScene.com. “He landed a couple of shots but I started to control the fight and take over. I am the reincarnation of Muhammad Ali. I have the talent to be the best of this era.”
Like many boxers, Rivera saw his activity level drop in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was able to get one fight in before the sports world was shut down and returned on Halloween to get a second fight in.
He fought three times in 2019 and the Premier Boxing Champions fighter hopes to fight at least that many times this year as he inches closer to a world title shot.
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