Emmanuel Rodriguez set to clash with Melvin Lopez on Aug. 12 in Las Vegas
Emmanuel Rodriguez and Melvin Lopez will square off on August 12, Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) announced Monday afternoon.
The 12-round bout, with the vacant IBF bantamweight title at stake, will take place inside The Theatre at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland and headline a three-bout Showtime Championship Boxing telecast (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).
In the co-feature, Gary Antuanne Russell and Kent Cruz will square off in a clash of unbeaten junior welterweights. Welterweight prospect Travon Marshall will face Gabriel Maestre of Venezuela in the 10-round opening bout.
“This show on August 12 is jam-packed with action for boxing fans as they will get an exciting world title clash in addition to some of the area’s top rising talent in tough contests live on Showtime,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Emmanuel Rodriguez is hungry to make a second run as world champion at bantamweight and will be given all he can handle by the red-hot Melvin Lopez.
“With two rising stars in Gary Antuanne Russell and Travon Marshall stepping in for separate bouts before that showdown, this lines up to be a can’t-miss card at MGM National Harbor.”
Rodriguez (21-2 1 NC, 13 knockouts), who resides in Manati, Puerto Rico, is currently ranked No. 2 by The Ring at 118 pounds.
In his last bout on October 15, Rodriguez defeated previously-unbeaten Gary Antonio Russell by technical decision. The fight ended during the 10th round as Rodriguez was not able to continue due to a cut from an accidental clash of heads earlier in the fight. Ironically, the fight was a rematch of their no-contest in August 2021, which ended in the opening round as Rodriguez was unable to continue due to a cut from an accidental clash of heads.
The 30-year-old won the vacant IBF title in May 2018, dropping Paul Butler twice in the first round en route to a one-sided decision. Rodriguez would make a successful defense of the title in October 2018, against Jason Moloney, before losing the title to Naoya Inoue in May 2019.
Rodriguez’s other defeat came in December 2020, losing by split-decision to Reymart Gaballo in a fight many thought Rodriguez did enough to win. Despite setbacks, Rodriguez is eager to again become a world titleholder at the expense of Lopez.
“I’m happy to have this chance to become a world champion again,” said Rodriguez, who made his pro debut in June 2012. “We’re gonna go out there to win in spectacular fashion and my goal is to show that I’m the best fighter in the world at 118-pounds. My goal is to become undisputed at bantamweight, however I’m not overlooking Melvin Lopez, because he’s a good fighter and will come to give it his all on August 12.”
Lopez (29-1, 19 KOs), who is originally from Managua, Nicaragua and now resides in Miami, Florida, notched the best win of his career, thus far, in his last bout, which was a split-decision victory over fringe contender Jobert Alvarez on December 12. Lopez has won his last eight bouts, seven by knockout, since a knockout loss to Jose Velasquez in October 2019.
The 25-year-old is the underdog going in, but will make the most of the opportunity in his fight against Rodriguez.
“I’m very excited that the time is almost here to fight for a world title,” said Lopez, who is co-managed by Osmiri Fernandez and William Ramirez. “We’ve had a great training camp and everyone has sacrificed and worked hard so that we’re at our best on August 12. I’m going to show everyone why I earned this opportunity and repay my team for all of their efforts. I have a lot of respect for Emmanuel, but the best man will have his hand raised when we share the ring.”
Gary Antuanne Russell (16-0, 16 KOs), who resides in nearby Capitol Heights and is ranked No. 8 by The Ring, is the youngest brother of Gary Antonio Russell and former WBC world featherweight titleholder Gary Russell, Jr.
The 27-year-old southpaw has knocked out former world titleholders Viktor Postol and Rances Barthelemy, in recent months.
Cruz (16-0-3, 10 KOs) has fought to back-to-back draws against Enriko Gogokhia, the most recent taking place on November 5.
The 30-year-old Cruz, who resides in Saint Louis, Missouri, notched his most notable win against Rickey Edwards, in a clash of unbeaten prospects, in September 2016.
Marshall (8-0, 7 KOs), who also resides in Capitol Heights, stopped former prospect Justin DeLoach in his last bout on March 4.
Maestre (5-0-1, 4 KOs) earned a win in his last fight on April 8 after opponent Devon Alexander did not answer the bell for the fourth round. Maestre is best known for his controversial decision win over Mykal Fox in August 2021, due to egregious scorecards in a fight Fox clearly won.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]