Emmanuel Rodriguez Storms Past Melvin Lopez in the Featured Bout on Showtime


By David A. Avila

Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodriguez floored Nicaragua’s Melvin Lopez several times in capturing the IBF bantamweight title by a wide unanimous decision on Saturday.

Near the nation’s capital Rodriguez (22-2, 13 KOs) powered his way past Lopez (29-2, 19 KOs) at the MGM National Harbor at Oxon Hill, Maryland. If there were doubts they were immediately erased in the last round with three knockdowns of the Nicaraguan.

It started badly for Rodriguez who was accidentally butted near his right eye in the second round. A swelling was immediately visible on the Boricua who trained in Mexico for this showdown.

“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,” said Rodriguez, 31. “I never had a problem with my eyesight throughout the fight.”

Despite the growing swell above his eye Rodriguez manhandled the younger Lopez and dominated the final round with three knockdowns to stamp out any question on who won the fight.

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

After 12 rounds all three judges favored Rodriguez 120-105.

Rodriguez said he would love to fight the new WBC bantamweight titlist Alexandro Santiago who recently defeated Nonito Donaire in Las Vegas.

“He (Santiago) says that he doesn’t think anybody can beat him at 118 pounds, but I’m here to prove him wrong,” said Rodriguez who for the second time in his career holds the IBF bantamweight title.

Russell Wins

Southpaw slugger Gary Antuanne Russell (17-0, 17 KOs) steamrolled Kent Cruz (16-1-3, 4 KOs) with a first-round shellacking at 2:39 of the first round to win by knockout. A left uppercut floored Cruz in the first round but he survived. He could not survive the left to the body and was counted out. It was Russell’s eighth first-round knockout.

“I saw the opening and I took it,” said Russell. “


A battle between undefeated welterweights saw 36-year-old Venezuela’s Gabriel Maestre (6-0-1, 5 KOs) ambush Travon “The Sniper” Marshall (8-1, 7 KOs) by knockout in the second round.

Marshall, 22, and the much older Maestre traded impressive jabs in the first round. The Venezuelan did connect with some good body shots but not enough to cause harm in the first round.

In the second round, Maestre again targeted the body and both also traded stiff jabs again. But then Maestre feigned a jab and fired a lead right cross that stunned the younger fighter and down he went. The Maryland welterweight beat the count and then was met by the Venezuelan fighter’s blazing combinations. A left hook and two rights connected and down went Marshall again through the ropes.

Referee Sharon Sands stopped the fight at 2:06 of the second round. Maestre was declared the winner by knockout.

“I never expected to win by knockout,” said Maestre who trains in Las Vegas with Ismael Salas. “We practiced that right hand that hit Marshall.”