If this was Kevin Ventura’s final fight in Omaha for a while, it proved to be a worthy sendoff.
The unbeaten lightweight from B&B Boxing, who recently signed with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy, patiently broke down game Donnie Reeves on Saturday at Ralston Arena.
Ventura improved to 9-0 with eight knockouts as he floored Reeves (3-2), from Hannibal, Missouri, with a body shot as the fourth round came to an end. The 21-year-old from Omaha controlled the main event from the opening bell.
The tougher-than-he-looked Reeves talked to the victor in the ring throughout the one-sided bout. But Ventura ignored the verbal gamesmanship and continued to apply pressure to his foe, age 18.
Reeves voluntarily took a knee twice in the fourth due to an accumulation of punishment. Ventura stepped up the pressure as the round continued, then landed a thudding body blow at the final bell.
“It was good. It was my first fight back. I was off (almost) a year,” said Ventura, whose run with Golden Boy begins in his next bout. “I had to box the kid. ... We punished him more, but we got the job done.”
The night belonged to Ventura, but a pair of former Midwest Golden Gloves champions from Nebraska made impressive statements on the undercard. Grand Island cruiserweight Oliver Rivera and Omaha bantamweight Abel Soriano scored early technical knockouts to remain unbeaten in their pro careers.
Rivera, a four-time National Golden Gloves qualifier, landed a fight-changing uppercut in his first-round stoppage of Bryan Dailey. He made the brawler from Missouri pay for throwing him to canvas early on.
“My corner kept telling me the uppercut was there when he was leaning forward,” Rivera said. “I just waited for him to keep pressuring me. I knew the open shot would be there. (The throw) made me want to drop him the right way. It’s all right though. It got me pumped up and got me the knockout I needed.”
Rivera has finished all three of his pro opponents to date. After competing at middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight as an amateur, the 24-year-old intends to eventually get to middleweight as a pro. He expects to be at light heavyweight when he headlines an Oct. 20 fight card in Grand Island.
Soriano (7-0), meanwhile, easily outclassed Austin Lajiness of Detroit, dropping him four times in a bout that ended in the opening minute of the second round. It was his third KO victory in his past four fights.
“He was real awkward,” said Soriano, a three-time regional amateur champ. “He kept trying to jump in with something stupid. I just felt like I needed to sit down on my punches and let him fall into the trap.”
Because he competes in the 118-pound weight class, Soriano has had trouble being matched competitively so far in his pro career. After Saturday’s easy win, he said he’s ready to step up.
“It wasn’t much of a challenge, unfortunately,” he said. “But any fight helps to keep stepping forward with your career. I’m ready for tougher, more experienced opponents. Veterans, that’d be good for me.”
In the co-main event, Grand Island’s Jose Jacobo (3-1) handed Omaha’s Treven Coleman-Avant (6-2) a second straight loss. Coleman-Avant was the more active boxer in the bout, but two judges favored the heavier punches from the often-hesitant Jacobo, who did most of his work with his foe along the ropes.
The most action-packed fight of the night was a six-round slugfest between Genaro Mendez of Chicago and Rene Marquez of Scottsbluff in the card’s featured bout. The momentum swayed back and forth for the super lightweights, with Mendez earning a majority decision as one judge scored the fight as a draw.
Youth ruled in the early bouts. MMA fighter Duane Johnson needed only 20 seconds to stop 39-year-old Daniel Gonzalez. The Omahan was making his boxing debut against a journeyman from Montana, who was in his 58th pro bout. Raul Chavarria (2-0) picked up the second victory for the fighters from Omaha as he outworked 40-year-old Javier Rodriguez from Grand Island in a four-round unanimous decision.
Omaha’s Kevin Nauden (2-1) scored the night’s first knockdown when he dropped Jeff Farmer of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at the bell to end the second round en route to a four-round decision in the third bout.
Light heavyweight: Duane Johnson (1-0) TKO-1 Daniel Gonzalez (12-44-2), :20. Super welterweight: Raul Chavarria (2-0) UD4 Javier Rodriguez (2-6-1), 40-36 (three times). Super lightweight: Kevin Nauden (2-1) UD4 Jeff Farmer (4-15), 40-35, 39-36, 39-37. Cruiserweight: Oliver Rivera (3-0) TKO-1 Bryan Dailey (5-13), 2:00. Bantamweight: Abel Soriano (7-0) TKO-2 Austin Lajiness (0-3), :40. Super lightweight: Genaro Mendez (12-4-1) MD4 Rene Marquez (5-5), 58-56 (twice), 57-57. Lightweight: Jose Jacobo (3-1) SD4 Treven Coleman-Avant (6-2), 39-37 (twice), 37-39. Lightweight: Kevin Ventura (9-0) TKO-4 Donnie Reeves (3-2), 2:59.
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July 1: Air Force's Nic Ready hit a total of 55 home runs, including 21 in the final round, to edge Clemson's Logan Davidson in the College Home Run Derby.
June 28: Oregon State celebrates beating Arkansas 5-0 in Game 3 of the CWS championship series. The Beavers were down to their last out in Game 2 before a fielding blunder by the Razorbacks gave Oregon State a second life, which it took advantage of en route to the program's third CWS title.
June 18: John Olson, and Mary Olson, of Joslyn, Missouri, take cover under ponchos during a rain delay at the College World Series. Weather provided a huge problem in the 2018 CWS.
June 15: Cam'ron Jones checks out Omaha.com, or perhaps Snapchat, during the Huskers' Friday Night Lights camp.
May 19: Fremont's Lucas Arps celebrates after winning the Class A 400-meter dash.
May 19: Lincoln Lutheran's Josie Puelz celebrates after clearing 12-2 in the Class C girls pole vault final.
May 17: Omaha Roncalli's Thomas Alitz cheers after scoring the winning run in the Class B state championship on a hit by Logan McGill with two outs in the seventh inning.
May 17: Omaha Creighton Prep's Eric Allbery, right, jumps on the dogpile as the Junior Jays celebrate their Class A state baseball title.
May 16: South Sioux City celebrates after defeating Elkhorn South in the Class B state soccer championship.
May 16: Kearney's Christian Dakan hoists the Class A state soccer trophy alongside his teammates.
May 14: Millard North celebrates its Class A state championship win against Omaha Marian by kissing the trophy.
May 14: Elkhorn celebrates its Class B championship win against Omaha Skutt.
May 9: Creighton's Will Robertson celebrates with Jack Strunc, left, after homering the fifth inning. The Jays beat UNO 10-6.
May 6: The Omaha Storm Chasers play below the newly dedicated Steve Pivovar Press Box at Werner Park.
April 21: Nebraska coach Scott Frost leads the Huskers during the Tunnel Walk on Saturday.
April 19: Awardee Dante Pettis and former Nebraska football player Johnny Rodgers, right, pictured during the Jet Award dinner.
April 19: Former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne attends the Jet Award dinner.
April 18: UNO's Malik Moore pitches against Nebraska. The Mavericks knocked off the Huskers for the first time since 1997.
April 11: Creighton's Will Robertson, left, and Thomas Luevano celebrate scoring on a triple by Jack Strunc.
April 11: Elkhorn South's Mo Gohr gains control of the ball in the Metro Conference tournament.
April 3: Scott Frost directs Husker football practice.
March 31: The boy campers pose for a photo at the Athletes' Training Center Futures Camp at Iowa West Field House.
March 27: Creighton defeats Nebraska 3-1 in the first matchup of the year.
March 25: Kansas' Malik Newman drives to the basket, drawing a blocking foul on Duke's Wendell Carter. The Jayhawks went on to defeat the Blue Devils in Omaha and advance to the Final Four.
March 17: Creighton defeats Iowa in the NCAA women's basketball tournament.
March 17: Creighton's bench cheers as Michael Emodi hits a walk-off homer off Wichita State pitcher Chandler Sanburn in the Jays' home opener.
March 12: The Creighton women's basketball team celebrates making the NCAA tournament.
March 10: Wahoo celebrates winning the Class C-1 boys basketball title.
March 10: Nebraska City Lourdes' Quinten Vasa, center, holds up the trophy with his team.
March 9: Glenwood celebrates after winning its first boys basktball state title in school history.
March 3: Scotus' Maggie Feehan celebrates after winning the Class C-1 title.
March 3: Superior celebrates a Class C-2 championship win over Ravenna.
Feb. 25: Nebraska's Duby Okeke enters Pinnacle Bank Arena with his family at his side on senior night. The Huskers went on to defeat Penn State.
Nebraska's Duby Okeke enters Pinnacle Bank Arena with his family at his side on senior night.
Feb. 24: Creighton's Marcus Foster, left, and Davion Mintz celebrate Creighton's 89-83 overtime victory over Villanova.
Feb. 24: Omaha Creighton Prep's Colin LaFave competes in the 100 fly at the state swimming meet.
Feb. 24: Lincoln Southwest's Anna Heinrich, left, and Josie Ford celebrate their first and second-place finishes in the 50 free at the state swimming meet.
Feb. 17: Kearney’s Phillip Moomey is in the top 20 of his weight class in two national polls. Only a handful of underclassmen are ranked ahead of him.
Feb. 17: Omaha Burke's Jakason Burks does a backflip after defeating Millard South's Caleb Coyle during the 106-pound Class A final at the state wrestling championships.
Jan. 28: Omaha Lancers coach and General Manager David Wilkie talks with players during first-period action.
Jan. 26: UNO's Luke Nogard skates past the referee.
Jan. 16: Nebraska's Nicea Eliely gets excited during pregame introductions as the Huskers went on to beat Iowa.
Nebraska's James Palmer celebrates a home victory over Illinois with Isaiah Roby.
Jan. 9: Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, left, talks with former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne during the Outland Trophy banquet.
Jan. 4: Omaha Burke's Shereef Mitchell brings the ball up court in the Metro holiday tournament.
Jan. 1: In his final game with Central Florida, now-Nebraska coach Scott Frost raises the Peach Bowl title after defeating Auburn.