Wednesday, September 27, 2023  |



Emmanuel Rodriguez outclasses Melvin Lopez to shutout UD, regains IBF bantamweight title

Despite gross swelling around his right eye Emmanuel Rodriguez dominated Melvin Lopez to a unanimous decision victory. Photo by Amanda Westcott / Showtime
Fighters Network

Emmanuel Rodriguez became a two-time IBF bantamweight champion Saturday night, securing a unanimous decision over Melvin Lopez in headlining action live on Showtime from The Theater at MGM National Harbor in Maryland in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

Rodriguez (22-2, 13 KOs), The Ring’s No. 3-rated bantamweight, sustained swelling over his right eye in the second round of the 12-round battle, and even though the eye ballooned as the fight wore on, he outclassed his opponent to the tune of 120-105 scores in his favor from all three judges.

“This is the result of six months of hard work in Mexico,” said Rodriguez, who is from Puerto Rico. “This wouldn’t have been possible without my entire team. I was able to become a champion once again five years later thanks to them. Let’s go Latin America, let’s go Puerto Rico, and let’s go Mexico!

“I remained calm despite the headbutt that caused my eye to swell up in the second round. It kept getting more swollen, but my team did an outstanding job keeping it at bay. I never had a problem with my eyesight throughout the fight.”

Rodriguez put an exclamation point on the victory by knocking down Lopez (29-2, 19 KOs) three times in the final round, attacking him with a flurry of punches that put Lopez on the ropes.

Rodriguez is on the attack against Lopez. Photo by Amanda Westcott / Showtime

“We worked on being powerful and purposeful with our power punches, besides showing off our skills,” Rodriguez said.

“I want Santiago next. He says that he doesn’t think anybody can beat him at 118 pounds, but I’m here to prove him wrong.”

Lopez said he appreciated the opportunity to square off with Rodriguez, and thought he had a chance late in the fight to emerge victorious.

“I thought that Rodriguez was going to run out of gas, because I was hitting him, but the ref was annoying and kept getting in the way saying I was landing low blows,” he said.

“The last round pissed me off. I felt I was solid until then. I was willing to die inside the ring in order to get a win, but I came up short.”

In the co-main event, Capitol Heights, Maryland native Gary Antuanne Russell (17-0, 17 KOs) made quick work of previously undefeated Kent Cruz (16-1-3, 10 KOs), securing his eighth career first-round knockout by sending Cruz to the canvas two minutes and 39 seconds into the super lightweight bout. Russell, a 2016 U.S. Olympian, first knocked down Cruz with a left uppercut to the chin, then ended the fight with a dizzying body blow.

Gary Antuanne Russell takes it to Kent Cruz. Photo by Amanda Westcott / Showtime

“This is obviously good,” Russell, The Ring’s No. 8-rated junior welterweight, said. “I saw the opening and I took it, and I was trying to remain disciplined defensively at the same time. More than anything, I was trying to make sure I could end it in the first round.

“I wasn’t shooting for the knockout streak, but that’s just what happened during a minute and a half worth of work tonight. If the opportunity is there, why not take it?”

Kicking off the telecast, Gabriel Maestre (6-0-1, 5 KOs) came out blazing and knocked down previously undefeated Capitol Heights, Maryland native Travon Marshall (8-1, 7 KOs) twice en route to securing a second-round TKO. A two-time Olympian, “El Capitan” used a vicious combination to send Marshall through the ropes at the 2:06 mark of the second round in the one-sided welterweight bout.

Gabriel Maestre blasts Travon Marshall with a right. Photo by Amanda Westcott / Showtime

“I did not expect this knockout,” Maestre said. “I want to thank my team for helping me prepare for this fight. This victory is for Venezuela. We practiced that right hand that hit Travon. I hope that he recovers quickly.

“I was honestly surprised I knocked Marshall out so quickly. He’s a tough, young fighter.

“I saw that Marshall looked a little inhibited and didn’t want to exchange punches with me from the opening bell. Then my right hand ended it.”

Prior to the telecast, the Showtime Boxing Countdown streamed live on the Showtime Sports YouTube channel and Boxing Facebook page and was topped by bantamweight Michael Angeletti (9-0) remaining undefeated with a unanimous decision over Jonathan Lopez (8-1-2), 79-73, 79-73 and 80-72.


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