Luis Alberto Lopez Retains his IBF Title, Upends Joet Gonzalez in Corpus Christi


By Arne K. Lang

Top Rank was in the Lone Star State tonight with a Mexican Independence Day Weekend card in Corpus Christi featuring a title defense by IBF world featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez. In the opposite corner was LA’s Joet Gonzalez, a two-time world title challenger.

The third time wasn’t a charm for Gonzalez although he came on strong in the late rounds and made things interesting, especially in the eyes of TV color commentator Mark Kriegel whose unofficial card favored the challenger 115-113. The judges saw things differently and Lopez retained his title on scores of 118-110, 117-111, and 116-112.

It was the twelfth straight win for Lopez (28-2, 16 KOs) who hails from the Northern Mexico border city of Mexicali and was coming off back-to-back upsets of UK hometown favorites Josh Warrington (MD 12) and Michael Conlan (KO 5). However, he did little to boost his stature as his effort could best be described as workmanlike. Gonzalez (26-4) is a good technician with a good engine and a sturdy chin, but he lacks a big punch and that has been his Achilles heel when he steps up in class.


In his first scheduled 10-rounder, Puerto Rico’s Xander Zayas, who turned 21 earlier this month, scored a fifth-round stoppage of Roberto Valenzuela Jr, advancing his record to 17-0 (11 KOs). Zayas had Valenzuela down twice in the opening round, the first the result of a stiff left jab and the second as a result of a push that wasn’t a true knockdown. Zayas also opened a deep gash on the bridge of Valenzuela’s nose.

In round four, referee Mark Nelson twice called a time-out to have the ring doctor evaluate the cut. He finally waived it off at the 47-second mark of round five, much to the chagrin of the feisty Valenzuela (21-5) who wasn’t intimidated by Zayas’s press clippings.


In the opener of the main telecast, 19-year-old Las Vegas lightweight Emiliano Vargas, the youngest and most dynamic of three fighting sons of former U.S. Olympian and 154-pound world champion Fernando Vargas, improved to 7-0 (6 KOs) with a third-round stoppage of Alejandro Guardado (5-1). A 29-year-old Spaniard, Guardado was on his feet when the referee rescued him from further punishment. The official time was 1:07.

Other Bouts of Note

In an all-Mexico welterweight showdown, Julio Luna (21-0-1) remained undefeated with an 8-round unanimous decision over Ensenada knockout artist Omar Alejando Aguilar (25-2). The judges had it 79-73, 78-74, and 77-73.

Aguilar had knocked out 24 of his previous 26 opponents, 24 inside the first two rounds, but Luna -- whose sister Yuliahn is the WBC female bantamweight title-holder -- blunted his firepower.

In a match fought at the catch-weight of 138 pounds, Jamaine Ortiz won a 10-round unanimous decision over Antonio Moran. Ortiz, from Worcester, Massachusetts, was making his first start since a competitive showing against Vasyl Lomachenko in October of last year. Since that bout, he had a match cancelled because of a lower back injury.

This was a well-matched contest with several seesaw rounds not reflected in the final tally. The judges had it 99-91, 98-92, and 97-93. Ortiz advanced to 17-1-1 (8). Mexico City’s Moran, who had won three straight and 5-1-1 overall since suffering a brutal KO at the hands of Devin Haney, declined to 29-6-1.

Ruben Villa, the pride of Salinas, California, advanced to 21-1 (7) with an 8-round decision over LA-based Colombian Brandon Valdes (15-4). The judges had it 78-74 across the board

Villa’s lone defeat came in a world title fight with Emanuel Navarrete. He aspires to fight Luis Alberto Lopez, a man he has already defeated.

The ESPN+ lid-lifter was an 8-round bout between super lightweights Delante “Tiger” Johnson and Ricardo Quiroz. Cleveland’s Johnson, a Tokyo Olympian, won a majority decision (the scores were 76-76 and 79-73 twice), improving to 10-0 (5). SoCal’s Quiroz falls to 13-3.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images