IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs) was forced to reach deep to hold off the desperate, highly motivated challenger Joet Gonzalez (26-4, 15 KOs) to win a 12 round unanimous decision on Friday night.
Gonzalez’s face looked pretty beat up by the end of the fight, with bad swelling around both eyes and blood around his left eye. You could tell that Lopez’s hard shots had done damage.
In contrast, Lopez’s face was relatively unmarked, with almost no signs of swelling or redness. The only thing that showed that Lopez had been in a fight was how exhausted he looked.
He was very tired, far more fatigued than Gonzalez, but that’s normal for him. Lopez has a history of gassing out in the later rounds, and tonight was just another example of that.
In making his second defense of his IBF title, Lopez couldn’t hurt voluntary challenger Joet, who fought behind a high guard all night to avoid getting nailed with headshots at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Lopez couldn’t land his bread-and-butter punch, his uppercut, with any regularity due to Gonzalez’s high guard. When Lopez would attack, Gonzalez would frequently retreat across the ring to avoid his shots.
In the championship rounds, Lopez’s punches lost power; he threw fewer and spent a lot of the time holding Gonzalez to keep him from getting his shots off.
Referee Lawrence Cole instructed Lopez numerous times to stop holding but didn’t change his game because he had no choice because he was exhausted.
Lopez gassed out in the same way he did his fight with Josh Warrington, but the judges’ scores didn’t reflect that. All three had him winning comfortably, which isn’t how ESPN saw it. Mark Kriegel had Gonzalez winning, and so did quite a few fans.
It won’t be surprising if Joet Gonzalez & his management push for a rematch, saying that they felt the judges gave them a bad deal. A rematch would likely play out in a similar manner, though, because Joet doesn’t have the power to win rounds when Lopez is fresh early in the fight.
Losing tonight’s fight makes Joet a three-time loser in fighting world titles. Going into the contest, Gonzalez had lost three out of his last six fights, and he didn’t deserve a title shot. Where he goes from here is the big question. Does he retire?
Will Top Rank keep him on their payroll? If so, why? Are they going to put Gonzalez in another title fight with a 3-4 record in his last seven fights? At what point do they say, ‘Enough is enough?’
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum had spoken recently of wanting to put together a unification fight between Luis Alberto Lopez and WBO champion Robeisy Ramirez. That’s not a good idea for Lopez to take that fight because Robeisy would likely beat him.