Saturday night saw a reclamation of glory as Emmanuel Rodriguez secured the IBF bantamweight championship title for the second time. The event, live from The Theater at MGM National Harbor, Maryland, was a spectacle for all boxing enthusiasts, courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions and SHOWTIME.
Rodriguez (22-2, 13 KOs) faced an unexpected challenge when his right eye started swelling as early as the second round. Still, resilience and grit shone through. By the match’s end, he had won with a unanimous 120-105 from all judges. Speaking on his victory, Rodriguez reflected, “This is the result of six months of hard work in Mexico. I was able to become a champion once again five years later thanks to my entire team. Let’s go Latin America, let’s go Puerto Rico, and let’s go Mexico!”
Describing the challenging turn of events, he mentioned, “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. I never had a problem with my eyesight throughout the fight.”
On the other side of the ring, Lopez (29-2, 19 KOs) was taken down three times in the final round, with Rodriguez delivering a barrage of punches. Explaining his tactics, Rodriguez said, “We worked on being powerful and purposeful with our power punches, besides showing off our skills. I want Santiago next. He says that he doesn’t think anybody can beat him at 118 pounds, but I’m here to prove him wrong.”
Lopez, however, had his own perspective, saying, “I thought that Rodriguez was going to run out of gas, because I was hitting him, but the ref was annoying and kept getting in the way saying I was landing low blows. The last round pissed me off. I felt I was solid until then.”
Maryland’s own, Gary Antuanne Russell, demonstrated his prowess against Kent Cruz, expressing, “This is obviously good. I wasn’t shooting for the knockout streak, but that’s just what happened during a minute and a half worth of work tonight. If the opportunity is there, why not take it?”
In the preliminary matches, Gabriel Maestre voiced his astonishment at his own performance, stating, “I did not expect this knockout. I was honestly surprised I knocked Marshall out so quickly. He’s a tough, young fighter.”
The night was replete with thrilling matches and exemplary performances. Brian Custer led the telecast, supported by an illustrious panel of boxing experts. Those who missed it can tune into SHOWTIME EXTREME® for a rerun.