Emmanuel Rodriguez

Emmanuel Rodriguez scored the vacant IBF bantamweight championship Saturday night, besting Melvin Lopez live on Showtime. The event aired from MGM National Harbor in Maryland.

Emmanuel Rodriguez The Newest IBF Bantamweight Champion

There is a new IBF bantamweight champion, as Emmanuel Rodriguez downed Melvin Lopez for the belt live on Showtime. The title was vacant heading into the fight.

Rodriguez moved to 22-2 with the victory, sweeping the scorecards from inside The Theater at MGM National Harbor in Maryland.

“This is the result of six months of hard work in Mexico,” said Rodriguez, who is from Puerto Rico. “This wouldn’t have been possible without my entire team. I was able to become a champion once again five years later thanks to them. Let’s go Latin America, let’s go Puerto Rico, and let’s go Mexico!

“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.”

Rodriguez put on a display of power in the final round, flooring Lopez three times on his way to the victory.

Gary Antuanne Russell Remains Unbeaten

In the co-main event, Maryland native Gary Antuanne Russell made quick work of previously undefeated Kent Cruz, securing his eighth career first-round knockout by sending Cruz to the canvas two minutes and 39 seconds into the super lightweight bout.

Russell, a 2016 U.S. Olympian, first knocked down Cruz with a left uppercut to the chin, then ended the fight with a dizzying body blow. Russell moved to 17-0 in his career with the win.

“This is obviously good,” Russell said. “I saw the opening and I took it, and I was trying to remain disciplined defensively at the same time. More than anything, I was trying to make sure I could end it in the first round.

“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?”

Gabriel Maestre came out blazing and knocked down previously undefeated Travon Marshall twice en route to securing a second-round TKO. A two-time Olympian, “El Capitan” used a vicious combination to send Marshall through the ropes at the 2:06 mark of the second round in the one-sided welterweight bout.

Emmanuel Rodriguez-Melvin Lopez Highlights