Luis Lopez Decisions Joet Gonzalez to Retain Featherweight World Title


Luis Venado Lopez Decisions Joet Gonzalez to Retain Featherweight World Title

Xander Zayas Stops Roberto Valenzuela Jr. in Co-Feature

(Courtesy: Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (Sept. 15, 2023) — Luis Alberto “El Venado” Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs) kicked off Mexican Independence Day Weekend by defending his IBF Featherweight World Title against former two-time world title challenger Joet Gonzalez (26-4, 15 KOs) Friday evening at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. 

Lopez hoped to become the first person to stop Gonzalez, but he was met with a stiff challenge and 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’s high guard made it difficult for Lopez to connect with his signature leaping punches, but occasional counter punches on the inside kept Gonzalez from gaining momentum.

Lopez seemed to fade in the later rounds, and Gonzalez, with a sense of urgency, began pressuring Lopez as he did in the opening round.

However, it was not enough to win the fight. Lopez retained his belt with scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112.

Lopez said, “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.”

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 phenom 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 with a hard jab in the opening round. Valenzuela got back up, only to suffer another knockdown before the round ended. In rounds two and three, Zayas worked off his back foot, 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 at :42 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.

Welterweight: John Rincon (8-0, 2 KOs) beat Bryan Ismael Rodriguez Rivera (4-2-1, 2 KOs) via unanimous decision in front of a hometown crowd. The bout was a cautious affair, but Rincon pulled away with effective aggression. Scores: 60-54 2x and 58-56.

Junior Welterweight: Jamaine Ortiz (17-1-1, 8 KOs) overcame an almost one-year layoff to defeat Antonio Moran (29-6-1, 20 KOs) via unanimous decision. Moran hurt Ortiz early, but Ortiz got his rhythm by the middle rounds and wobbled Moran in the sixth round. A game Moran was aggressive in the later rounds, but it was not enough to overcome Ortiz’s quick counterpunching. Ortiz was coming off last October’s valiant stand against Vasiliy Lomachenko. Scores: 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93.

Featherweight: Former world title challenger Ruben Villa IV (21-1, 7 KOs) tallied a workmanlike eight-round unanimous decision against Brandon Valdes (15-4, 7 KOs). Valdes started strong by finding a home for his right uppercut. Villa, however, figured him out and out-landed the Colombian in nearly every exchange. Scores: 78-74 3x.

Junior Welterweight: U.S. Olympian Tiger Johnson (10-0, 5 KOs) scored a majority decision victory against Ricardo Quiroz (13-3, 7 KOs). Scores: 76-76 and 79-73 2x.  





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