Home Boxing News Emmanuel Rodriguez drops Melvin Lopez three times to claim IBF bantie title

Emmanuel Rodriguez drops Melvin Lopez three times to claim IBF bantie title

Emmanuel Rodriguez (right) vs Melvin Lopez. Photo credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime

Emmanuel Rodriguez 22-2 (13) became a two-time IBF bantamweight champion when he claimed the vacant title by shutout against Melvin ‘Melo’ Lopez 29-2 (18) at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland on Saturday night.

Lopez had to climb off the canvas three times in the final round to avoid a knockout loss.

All four major world titles became vacant when former undisputed 118-pound champion Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue 25-0 (22) decided to move up to super bantamweight.

The Japanese superstar’s younger brother Takuma Inoue 18-1 (4) picked up the WBA strap with a unanimous decision win over Venezuelan Liborio Solis 37-7-1 (18) in April.

Mexican Alexandro Santiago 28-3-5 (14) upset Filipino veteran Nonito Donaire 42-8 (28) by unanimous decision last month to be crowned WBC champion, while Australia’s Jason Moloney 26-2 (19) got over Filipino Vincent Astrolabio 18-4 (13) by majority decision in May.

Now Puerto Rican Rodriguez, 31, has completed the final piece of the puzzle.

Rodriguez got out of the blocks fast, timing Nicaraguan southpaw Lopez, 25, with power shots from both hands. A head clash in the second round that brought about swelling around Rodriguez’s right eye was missed by the referee and the wound was ruled to be he result of a punch.

Lopez started to find his rhythm by the fourth round and although he found occasional success, he was generally a step or two behind Rodriguez, who control the tempo of the bout and demonstrated superior ring generalship.

Rodriguez was urged by his corner to keep his punch rate up and when he let his hands go Lopez has little answer. CompuBox had Rodriguez landing 44% of his total punches and 50% of his power punches.

In the 12th and final round, Rodriguez sent Lopez to the canvas three times to secure the victory by identical scores of 120-105 from all three official judges.

Rodriguez was rapt to finally get his title back.

“It was six months in Mexico away from my family working to make this possible. So five years ago I was champion it’s taken five years, but I’m champion again,” he said after the fight.

The swollen eye continued to get worse throughout the bout, but the newly crowned champ said he didn’t let it bother him.

“My corner was very calm, they said not to worry about it,” Rodriguez said. “It was a headbutt in the second round that I felt and I felt the inflamation round by round but the corner did their job in maining the calm and just making sure that I was okay.”

He added that his sight was fine during the fight.

“Maybe a couple of seconds in the second round when I felt the headbutt,” Rodriguez said. “That’s when there was a little problem with the vision, but that was the only time. I felt great.”

As for his next move, Rodriguez said he would like the chance to unify with Santiago.

“We saw an interview with Santiago saying there was nobody at 118 that could beat him,” he said. “Well, that’s me. I want to try and beat him. And yes, I want that next fight.”