It was a vintage Tigre performance Saturday night, as Raul Casarez started off with unique variations on the initial game plan, endured some surprises early on, and dominated crunch time, eventually getting his man out of there in the final round.

“The Rumble in the Park” was a huge success out at Municipal Park, with 10 amateur bouts preceding a half-dozen pro tilts, and Edinburg hero Casarez extended his career mark to 17-2 with an eighth-round TKO of veteran San Antonio man Eloy Suarez, who has to rank in the top 10 for Hardest Head.

After struggling early against Suarez, Casarez took control in the middle rounds with some of the best strategic boxing he’s ever shown. By the eighth he had worn down the 37-year-old warrior with jabs and body shots, and when he delivered a crushing left hook halfway through, it was soon curtains. Following at least 15 connections from the champ, the bout was stopped at a minute of the round, with no knockdowns, and the WBO champ had another victory.

At the beginning, Casarez was the free-wheeling Tigre of old, bringing the battle from the opening bell but missing a number of power shots. Trainer James Gogue screamed at his guy to jab and move and down the road, he would do that.

After having his nose bloodied by a series of counter shots inside, Casarez got down to business with a punishing left jab and hard body blows. From the fourth on, he was superb.

“He was fighting for the crowd too much early, he was excited and wanted to knock him out,” said Gogue, after the capacity crowd of 2,500 got more than its due. “The plan was to break him down, bring his hands down with jabs and body shots. Tigre settled down after that and he did what he had to do.”

Fighting in memory of his future wife’s stepmom, who died of cancer recently, Casarez was able to regain his composure and record the win, in one of the best bouts the city has seen in years.

On the amateur side, Mission Olympic hopeful Isaac Torres won his match, though he was not terribly active until the end, while up-and-coming prospect Ricky Alvarez lost a close decision despite a great third and last round. The opponents for the Pound for Pound stable were mainly older kids from San Antonio, and Gogue said that he was satisfied with the lumps on the head.

“It’s all about experience at this stage,” he noted of the amateur super-smoker event. “Isaac and Ricky needed to get into the ring against some better competition and now they know what they can expect down the line.”