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‘I’m gonna prove I’m the best in the division’: Emmanuel Rodriguez and Melvin Lopez aim for IBF title and bantamweight glory

Emmanuel Rodriguez and Melvin Lopez both intend to prove they’re the best bantamweight in the world right now.

Emmanuel Rodriguez and Melvin Lopez both intend to prove they’re the best bantamweight in the world
Emmanuel Rodriguez and Melvin Lopez both intend to prove they’re the best bantamweight in the world
Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Emmanuel Rodriguez and Melvin Lopez will vie for the vacant IBF bantamweight title this Saturday on Showtime, headlining a three-fight card from just outside of Washington, DC, in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

Rodriguez (21-2, 13 KO), a former IBF titleholder, believes he has the fight scouted already, and that he’ll get a stoppage.

“Starting in the fourth round, I should be able to figure out what he’s got in store for me,” he said. “Then I feel like I can stop him between the fourth and seventh rounds.”

Bet on Rodriguez vs Lopez and more boxing with DraftKings Sportsbook!

The lesser-known Lopez (29-1, 19 KO) isn’t quite so dramatic.

“I’m not gonna guarantee a knockout. I’m an animal that hunts for his prey. I’m gonna try to get him where I want and whatever happens, happens. He says he’s the best in the division, and he’s gonna try to show it. But I’m gonna do the same thing.”

More from Thursday’s presser:

Emmanuel Rodriguez

“I’m more mature and experienced now than I was when I first won the title. I will be the fifth world champion from Puerto Rico right now and that would be a privilege. That’s the goal in this fight.

“I guarantee you I’m gonna come out with the win on Saturday, because I’m the toughest opponent he’s ever faced.

“I’m gonna prove I’m the best fighter in the division. This is gonna send a message to all the other champions that I’m here to stay.

“I’ve had so much love and support from Puerto Rico already. The island is eager to see me fight and I want to give back all that love with a win on Saturday night.

“I’ve trained in Mexico and it’s been like a second home. They’ve really supported me. I owe it to all of them to give it my all.

“The fans are gonna see an amazing show and the best version of Emmanuel Rodriguez. I guarantee that.”

Melvin Lopez

“Winning would bring me happiness and pride for my country, and it would prove to me that all my hard work ever since I was little, paid off.

“He can say whatever he wants, talk is cheap. Saturday night is where it’s all shown. He’s gonna have to back it up.

“I’m not gonna guarantee a knockout. I’m an animal that hunts for his prey. I’m gonna try to get him where I want and whatever happens, happens.

“He says he’s the best in the division, and he’s gonna try to show it. But I’m gonna do the same thing. I’m gonna try to show that I’m the best on Saturday night.

“I’m gonna give it my all for the world title. We both want it badly. For everyone watching on Saturday night, I’m gonna do everything I can to bring the title home.”

Gary Antuanne Russell

“People are gonna see a Grade-A performance from me on Saturday. It feels really good to be back. Cruz is gonna bring his physical best and I’m gonna bring everything I need to put the fire out.

“My knockout streak is a good thing, but the object of this sport is to continue to win. A knockout would be a notch on my belt and I plan to get it, but it’s not a weight on my shoulders.

“It’s up to me to just perform at my highest peak. We have to execute everything at the highest level. That’s what will leave me victorious.

“He can expect pain. It’s the hurt business. Someone’s ‘0’ has got to go. At the end of the day, I’m gonna take my hat off to him and be respectful, but I’m gonna show everyone that I do it for the art. I love this sport.

“I’m back in my hometown and representing my area. If I get good grades, I make the family look good right? That’s the objective. People are gonna be saying that I’m a beast.

“Pressure busts pipes and makes diamonds. If anything, I’m at ease fighting at home.”

Kent Cruz

“Beating Russell will mean everything for my career. This is the fight that we’ve been waiting on. This is gonna bring the best out of me and it’s gonna make me up my level and up my ability.

“People are gonna be surprised. We had a terrific camp and brought out the old Kent Cruz. I’m gonna shock the world come Saturday night. For sure.

“This is my third southpaw in a row, so we’ve been training for southpaws for a long time. It’s been easier for me because we just maintained what we were doing. I love fighting southpaws because it makes it easier for me to set up what I want to do.

“I feel like he has more pressure on him than me, because he’s fighting in his hometown. I just have to do my part and come out victorious Saturday night. We’re gonna do whatever it takes.

“I’m gonna shock the world. People are looking past me, but I’m gonna wake them up for sure.”

Travon Marshall

“The 147 lb division is about to be wide open and there are a lot of good prospects coming up. It’s time to get a gauge on who’s gonna be next to take over.

“A victory over Maestre will give me standing in the division. With me being this young and going up against a two-time Olympian, that’s an amazing thing.

“Me and my team are prepared for anything. Make sure you tune in on time Saturday night, because I’m gonna snipe him out of there.

“He’s never faced anyone like me as a pro. It’s a whole different caliber over here. People are gonna say that this young guy is the one after this fight.

“You’re gonna see a dominant performance by a young up-and-coming prospect that came out of nowhere. They’re gonna know my name after Saturday night.”

Gabriel Maestre

“He’s gonna have to be ready each and every round, because I’m coming to win. I know that he’s young and hungry and that he’s fighting at home, but I’ve prepared myself for all of that.

“The fans are going to be the true winners, because this is gonna be a true spectacle and a memorable fight for everyone watching.

“I’m beyond motivated for this fight. The American fans like to see a brawl and I’m gonna go punch for punch with Travon. It’s gonna be fun.

“I respect what Marshall says, but the real talking is done inside of the ring. He hasn’t fought anyone like me and he has no idea what he’s in store for.”

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