Friday, September 22, 2023  |


Emmanuel Rodriguez: Melvin Lopez is not at my technical level

Emmanuel Rodriguez (L) is confident his experience and skill will be too much for Melvin Lopez (R). Photo by Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME
Fighters Network

On Saturday, Emmanuel Rodriguez will bid to become a two-time IBF bantamweight titleholder when he faces once-beaten Melvin Lopez for the vacant title in the headline bout on Showtime at the MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Maryland.

Rodriguez, The Ring’s No. 3-rated bantamweight, knows what he’s up against but feels if he can produce his best form, he’ll emerge victorious.

“[He is a] good fighter, he is very hungry to bring glory to his people and he has my respect for that,” Rodriguez (21-2, 13 knockouts) told The Ring. “He throws a lot of punches, he is strong, but he is not at my technical level. Likewise, I’m prepared for whatever fighting style he brings. Two Latinos in a ring always promise exciting fights.

“I just need to continue showing that I am the best 118-pounder in the world and August 12 will be no exception.”

This fight will be a culmination of a long and difficult path back to the top having lost his title to Naoya Inoue (KO 2) in May 2019. When he returned 18 months later, he controversially lost to Reymart Geballo (SD 12). The snake-bitten Puerto Rican was then involved in an early head-clash that curtailed his fight with Gary Antonio Russell in the opening round.

His team continued to believe in him and have been rewarded with two wins, including an impressive performance against Russell (TD 10) in their rematch. Though the fight was again stopped on cuts from a head-clash, Rodriguez had dominated the action up to that point.

“Losing is never good but learning from it is,” he said somewhat philosophically. “They didn’t see me beating Russell and they saw what happened.

“I am very focused in Jiquipilco, Mexico, with Jay Najar and Carlos Duarte training me, away from distractions. Training outside of PR has helped me a lot to focus and give my best. With God’s favor we will win very convincingly.”

The 30-year-old is still highly motivated to succeed, hence taking himself away from home for training camp and believes regaining his old title will open further doors.

“It means a lot because I train away from my family, which is what I love the most and the sacrifice will be worth it,” he said. “The result will be forceful on my part. I will be a two-time world champion and not everyone does that. After that the other titles interest me. Puerto Rico has not had an undisputed male champion, Amanda [Serrano] was the first female.

“First it’s Melvin Lopez, all thoughts are with him, then I’ll keep thinking about Puerto Rican boxing history.”

His promoter, Juan Ivan Orengo, of Fresh Productions is in no doubt and expects his fighter to return to the top of the bantamweight division.

“There is no tolerance and there is no reason why Manny does not knock him out,” said Orengo. “If Manny doesn’t knock him out, he’s not world class.”

Lopez (29-1, 19 KOs) turned professional in 2015. He won his first 14 fights in his native Nicaragua before moving heading to America, several wins followed before he was upset by rugged Jose Velasquez (TKO 9).

The 25-year-old has rebounded with eight wins, seven inside the distance. “Melo” is coming off a close decision win over Jobert Alvarez (SD 12) in his most recent outing.

This is a big opportunity for Rodriguez to regain his old world title. He is favored against the lesser-known Lopez. I see Rodriguez scoring a late stoppage.


Rodriguez-Lopez, plus undercards bouts, will be broadcast on Showtime beginning at 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT


Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on



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