Emmanuel Rodriguez Secures IBF Bantamweight Title With
Unanimous Decision Over Melvin Lopez
Photos: Amanda Westcott - SHOWTIME
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) 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.
“We worked on being powerful and purposeful with our
power punches, besides showing off our skills,”
“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,”
“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
“This is obviously good,” Russell 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
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
“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
SHOWTIME 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.
The streaming presentation also saw Jose Benavidez, Jr.
dominate all five rounds of his scheduled 10-round
middleweight bout with Bosnian bruiser Sladan Janjanin
(36-16). Benavidez, Jr. (28-2-1, 19 KOs) knocked down
his opponent in the first, third and fourth rounds
before a series of brutal body blows in the fifth
convinced Janjanin’s corner to throw in the towel after
Opening up the live stream, Las Vegas native Damien
Vazquez (17-3-1, 10 KOs) stopped Jeronil Borres (12-9-2)
of the Philippines with a sixth-round TKO. Vazquez’s
sweeping overhand left late in the round resulted in his
third knockdown of the period, which prompted referee
Sharon Sands to quickly step in and stop the fight.