Emmanuel Rodriguez is once again the IBF bantamweight champion, reclaiming his former belt with a clean sweep domination of Melvin Lopez in a Showtime main event from Maryland.
Rodriguez (22-2, 13 KO) was the sharper man throughout, and consistently found a home with a sharp right hand that knocked his opponent’s head back on a regular basis.
Lopez (29-2, 19 KO) just could not find a forward gear, often putting himself against the ropes or in corners, and struggling to generate any offensive momentum.
A clash of heads swelled up the eye of Rodriguez, but the official ruling from the commission was that it came from accumulated punch damage. Not sure when those punches landed, as Lopez never did much on the attack, but fortunately the eye damage didn’t end the fight. Instead, Rodriguez kept working his advantages, piling up rounds, and waiting patiently for the opening to do more.
That opportunity came in the 12th round, when a Lopez in survival mode stopped throwing his hands. Rodriguez pounced on him, knocking Lopez down three times. Lopez took 9 full seconds each time, and just barely survived to the final bell. All three judges saw it the same as Bad Left Hook’s unofficial scorecard at 120-105 for Rodriguez.
It was a thorough and complete victory, if not always a crowd-pleasing one. Rodriguez claims a belt and a prominent place in the wide open post-Inoue bantamweight landscape, and unification talk was already underway in the post-fight interview.
Rodriguez vs Lopez highlights
Undercard highlights and results
Gary Antuanne Russell KO-1 Kent Cruz
Not much to say about a fight that didn’t have much going on. Kent Cruz weighed in heavy, still hit the scale two pounds overweight on his second attempt, and didn’t put up much in-ring resistance before a quick finish by Gary Antuanne Russell.
The most interesting thing that happened in this fight was referee Bill Clancy pausing the action 25 seconds in when he noticed that Russell (17-0, 17 KO) was wearing an earring he’d neglected to remove before the opening bell. Cruz (16-1-3, 10 KO) was down in less than 2 minutes after taking punches while complaining to the referee. He went down again before the end of the round, and didn’t get back up. Total waste of time for Gary Antuanne Russell, but at least it didn’t take long.
Gabriel Maestre TKO-2 Travon Marshall
This fight had the vibe of a main event coming out party for PBC prelims regular Travon Marshall, but 37 year old Gabriel Maestre stole that spotlight for himself instead. Maestre (6-0-1, 5 KO) put Marshall down hard on a big right hand midway through the 2nd that left Marshall laying across the ropes and halfway out of the ring. Marshall (8-1, 7 KO) managed to get up, but couldn’t get the time or space to really compose himself. Maestre swarmed him against the ropes and put him down again. Referee Sharon Sands rightfully skipped a count, and Maestre picked up a big win from the B-side of the ring.