Lopez successfully defends IBF title against Gonzalez in Texas

Luis Alberto “El Venado” Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs) successfully defended his IBF featherweight world title for the second time against Joet Gonzalez (26-4, 15 KOs) on Friday [September 15] evening at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. The contest promoted by Top Rank kicked off the Mexican independence celebrations, which are being celebrated in North America.

Champion Lopez hoped he would become the first person to stop Gonzalez, but he was met with a stiff challenge who refused to take a backward step.

In the opening round, Gonzalez pressured Lopez with punches to the body. By rounds three and four, though, Lopez found his distance and began using his legs to set up shots from the outside.

Gonzalez’ held a high guard, which made it difficult for Lopez to connect with his signature leaping hooks, but occasional counterpunches on the inside kept Gonzalez from gaining momentum.

Lopez did fade in the later rounds, and Gonzalez, with a sense of urgency, saw him began to pressure Lopez just like he did in the opening.

However, it was not enough for Gonzalez to claim victory, with Lopez defending his belt with scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112.

Post-fight, Lopez paid tribute to Gonzalez whilst admitting that the contest was a tight and close affair.

“We knew that Joet Gonzalez is a very dangerous fighter. He never stops attacking. He can take anything you throw at him. We knew that’s what he came to do and that he came with a lot of hunger to take the title away from me, but I also am very hungry to remain champion.

“I hurt him. I saw that I hurt him. But, as I’ve said, he’s a warrior who can take anything you throw at him, even the bucket. He is still standing, and my respects to him.

“It was a very close fight. We know that Joet Gonzalez was coming forward. He wouldn’t take a step back. I know it was a tough fight, but I know that I won.”

In contrast to Lopez, Gonzalez was disappointed in his performance and claimed it was one of his worst performances in a title fight.

Gonzalez said, “I thought the scores should have been a little closer. Overall, I am very disappointed in my performance. I felt that I could have done a lot better. By far, this is the worst performance of my title fights, even though I prepared to the fullest. I am truly disappointed in my performance.

“I felt like in the other world title fights I did better. I felt like I got hit less. I did feel like I landed some good shots, but I feel like I’ve could have done a lot better.”

Zayas Authors Career-Best Win over Valenzuela

Puerto Rican junior middleweight Xander Zayas (17-0, 10 KOs) scored a fifth-round TKO victory against hard-hitting Mexican Roberto Valenzuela Jr. (21-5, 20 KOs) in tonight’s co-feature.

Zayas dropped Valenzuela following ahard jab in the opening round. Valenzuela got back up, only to suffer another knockdown before the round ended. Zayas worked off his back foot in rounds two and three, landing quick combos from the outside. A left hand in round three caused a cut on Valenzuela’s nose.

The cut bled profusely, but referee Mark Nelson allowed Valenzuela to continue fighting. However, Zayas continued landing vicious punches to Valenzuela’s nose, forcing Nelson to halt the contest after 42 seconds of the fifth round.

Zayas said, “I didn’t think he was going to stop bleeding from his nose. When I went to my corner, I told my dad [assistant trainer Orlando Garcia] that his nose was really bad. So, we knew that it was a matter of time.

“I came here to accomplish a goal. I came here to let everybody know at 154 pounds that I’m coming for everything. They said he was a power puncher, and I dominated tonight. I’m a contender now at 154 pounds. Whenever Top Rank gives me the opportunity, I’ll be ready for a world title. All my respect to Roberto. He was a warrior like I knew he was going to be.”

In other action:

Unbeaten lightweight sensation Emiliano Fernando Vargas (7-0, 6 KOs) made his ESPN-televised debut with a spectacular third-round TKO win against Alejandro Guardado (5-1, 1 KO).

In the opening round, Vargas calmly evaded shots with quick head movement before sneaking uppercuts through Guardado’s guard. He pressured Guardado in the second round, but Guardado responded with offense of his own.

Vargas then landed a counter left hook in the third round that initiated a flurry that forced referee Lee Rogers to end the fight at 1:07.

Vargas said, “We’re just going to work in there. It’s a beautiful thing to be here with all my beautiful Mexican fans. I love what I do. I get up early in the morning and it’s not work. I can’t wait to be back.”

Welterweight: In an all-Mexican showdown, Julio Luna (21-1-2, 11 KOs) toppled Omar Aguilar (25-2, 24 KOs) to capture the vacant WBC USA welterweight title. Aguilar was aggressive early, but Luna’s distance made it hard for him to land cleanly. In the fourth, Aguilar found success on the inside, but Luna overcame the onslaught with longer punches. Scores: 79-73, 78-74, and 77-75.