Undefeated prospect Michael “Brazilian Rocky” Oliveira(15-0, 12 KOs) captured the vacant World Boxing Council Latino middleweight title in tonight’s main event on the “Sao Paulo Fight Night” pro-am card, by way of a sudden sixth-round knockout of Jose“Minquito” Soto (24-8-2, 13 KOs), at Credicard Hall in Sao Paulo.
The 21-year-old Oliveira, rated No. 18 by the World Boxing Council, is a Brazilian native fighting out of Miami. “Sao Paulo Fight Night,” presented by MO Productions, was the third installment in a six-fight, two-year deal with Brazilian network giant, TV Globo.
Oliveira displayed an improved jab in a feeling-out opening round, in which he showed patience and, under new trainer Orlando Cueller, a much different game plan than in the past, calling for Oliveira to brawl less and box more from a distance. The action picked-up in the second as Soto was more aggressive, but Oliveira effectively worked the body in the third round and start to breakdown his game Dominican opponent.
In the fourth round, Oliveira’s power advantage became more apparent, when he trapped Soto on the ropes, rocking him with straight rights. Soto came back in the fifth but a wicked left to the body, quickly followed by a devastating right uppercut, ended the fight early in the sixth.
“I’m quicker when I keep my hands low and I’m loose,” Oliveira commented, “but I had to keep my hands high because of head-butts. We changed strategy three times. He didn’t fade, hit like a mule, and kept coming. I felt my body punching was effective. I followed Orlando’s instructions; when he said to go to the head at the right time, or to go the body at the right time. Victory came easier because I listened to my corner.
“I’ve improved a lot because of my experiences working in the gym. I have a high-quality team that took the time to not only work on my defects, but they saw my offense. I’d give myself a seven grade (on scale of 1-10). My goal is to fight for a world title. My team will evaluate me, help me work to continue improving, and schedule my next fight. They’ll let me know when I’m ready for a world title fight.”
Michael’s father and the show’s promoter, Carlos Oliveira, was pleased by the overall success of the show, as well as the improvement his son displayed before a passionate crowd. “The show was a complete success,” he remarked, “other than we had to delay going live because of a soccer game going late on television. I saw improvement from Michael. His defense was a little better and he was much more patient. While he was fighting I think he thought about his last fight, which kept him more focused on what to do.”
Cueller was happy with Michael’s performance in what was their first time working together in a fight. “We had to make adjustments during the fight,” Cueller explained. “His opponent was heavy handed and determined. He was a decent inside fighter, too. Michael used his jab and timed his opponent’s jab well. He used his jab and moved his head more than he ever did in the past. He worked the body and took advantage at the end. Michael executed everything I asked of him. He did a good job.”
World boxing champion Glen Johnson, who trains with Oliveira at Thump Fight Gym in Miami, walked Michael into the ring as a show of friendship and support.
“Michael did a good job,” Johnson said. “He knows that has a lot of stuff to work on, especially defense, but he’s young and still a work in progress. He forced some shots to the head when there were some clean shots to the body, but he continues to get better and he’s heading in the right direction. He has Orlando Cueller in his corner to guide him and all Michael has to do is listen to him and work hard. He is determined.”
Michael Oliveira (15-0, 12 KOs), Miami, FL WKO6 (0.36) Jose Soto (24-8-2, 13 KOs), La Vega, Dominican Republic
(Oliveira won WBC Latino middleweight title)
Douglas Ataide (2-0, 0 KOs), Sao Paulo, Brazil WDEC6 (60-53, 60-53, 58-53) Jack Welson (14-7, 12 KOs), Sao Paulo, Brazil
Clelia Marques Costa, Sao Paulo, Brazil WPTS Amanda Coelho, Amazonia, Brazil
Andrea Bandeira, Sao Paulo, Brazil WPTS Daniele Bastielli, Sao Paulo, Brazil