Carlos Rivera emerged from his dressing room with a bruised cheek and red eyes. He had fury in his step and redemption on his lips.
The biggest rematch of his career slipped by in a loss to Jose Hernandez ruled a majority decision. One judge scored it 56-56, the other two had it 58-54 and 57-55 for Hernandez.
"Back to the drawing board," Rivera, 28, said. "Hopefully I get him again, but I'm not going to be desperate and turn around and want to fight him again. I'm going to practice some more, get back on my game again and hopefully down the road there will be a title fight or something."
The Port Richey resident had never fought in a shell as large as the St. Pete Times Forum, and never in front of more than a few hundred fans. This was a great chance to clobber Hernandez after falling to him last year by TKO in St. Petersburg.
Rivera (9-4-1) was dropped by Hernandez (8-6) in the third round and thought he lost the fight because he fought off the ropes in the later rounds of the six-round event.
"I think that's what got me in trouble, even though nothing was really hurting me," Rivera said. "The thing about fighting against the ropes (is) the judge behind you doesn't see what's going on. I'm not disappointed about the way I fought."
He said he hopes to fight again soon.
"If they gave me a fight again next week I'd do it," Rivera said. "I'm telling you, I'm focused. I was a little nervous coming to something like this, but my camp kept me focused. What more can I ask for?"
BOOM BOOM: Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista has been touted as one of the up-and-coming bantamweights. Promoter Oscar De La Hoya called Bautista "the best 118-pound prospect" during Wednesday's news conference.
Saturday night, he showed what all the fuss is about.
Bautista ran his record to 21-0 with a fourth-round technical knockout of Giovanni Andrade.
The 36-year-old Brazilian was unable to come out of his corner just as the bell for the fourth round tolled.
"I thought I fought a good fight and did what I had to do to win this fight," Bautista said. "(Andrade) was a very experienced fighter and I knew what to do to beat him."
Bautista hit Andrade (52-10, 43 KOs) with several body shots in the third and Andrade looked to be in considerable pain as he sat in his corner between rounds. Andrade's camp said he injured his ribs two weeks ago. Bautista said he was not aware of any injury to his opponent.
"My tactics are always to go to the body," Bautista said. "I could see, though, when I hit him in the body that he was starting to run away."
Bautista and Andrade got tangled up several times inside through the first three rounds. Bautista said his opponent head-butted him several times, among other fouls.
"He kept holding my hands and using dirty tactics to keep me from throwing my punches," Bautista said. "His tactics were dirty, so I had to keep after him."
Bautista was ahead on all three judges' cards when referee Jorge Alonso stopped the fight.
Bring the payne: Phillip Payne's return to Tampa didn't go so well.
The featherweight lost a unanimous decision to Billy Dibb 79-73, 79-72, 80-71.
Payne fought in Tampa four years ago, winning a unanimous decision against local prospect Carlos Diaz. Since then, Payne has gone 3-17-1. Before the Diaz fight he was 12-4-1.
DISQUALIFIED: Jamel Perry (1-1) stood at center ring with his arm raised in victory while the handful of early arrivals objected with boos. The heavyweight bout, scheduled for four rounds, was dominated by the meaty Darrel Madison (1-1) with powerful blows that knocked Perry to the canvas multiple times. But Madison was disqualified at 1 minute, 16 seconds in the second round for intentionally hitting behind the head.
It was Perry's first fight since falling to Damien Rapley on Feb. 24, 2005.
Izzy Gould can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 909-4612 and Brandon Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2216.