Former super middleweight world champion Anthony Dirrell takes out El Paso’s-own Abraham Han in co-feature, and Claudio Marrero stuns Jorge Lara on PBC on FOX.
Josesito Lopez did what he hoped to do Saturday night — stay busy.
The veteran welterweight kept himself sharp going 10 rounds against previously unbeaten-but-unheralded Miguel Cruz in the main event of a FOX-televised card at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas. The scores were 99-89 twice, and 98-90 in favor of Lopez.
The 33-year-old Lopez (36-7, 19 knockouts) kept his name firmly in the mix in the loaded welterweight division with the stay-busy win. Though Cruz (17-1, 11 KOs) was able to have his moments, Lopez used his experience to his advantage and boxed a smart and effective fight.
Under Robert Garcia, Lopez has proven to be much better defensively than in his highest-profile bouts. Against Cruz, Lopez kept out of harm’s way and made Cruz pay with excellent counter punches. Lopez took the fight to Cruz and used solid head movement effectively.
“I think the biggest difference has been Robert Garcia,” said Lopez, after his first-ever win in Texas. “He has me living a healthier lifestyle and that played a big part in my victory. I have an elite trainer who is training me like an elite fighter. I was one step behind in the past, but now I think I’ve made up that distance and then some.”
Cruz tried digging to the body but found himself warned and later deducted a point for straying south of the border.
“I didn’t agree with the calls on the low blows,” Cruz said afterwards. “I didn't get a chance to work the body like I wanted. That was the plan coming in. They took it away from me.”
The two went toe-to-toe for much of the fight but Cruz didn’t have enough on his punches to gain the respect of Lopez and force him to fight more defensively.
It marked Lopez’s third straight win and it’s likely we see the veteran Californian in a meaningful fight before the end of the year. The division is loaded and somebody high profile is going to need a dance partner with a recognizable name — and Lopez fits the bill.
“Welterweight has a lot of good fighters, but I know I can compete with them,” Lopez determined. “I'm a fan-friendly fighter who’s always going to leave it all in the ring.”
Former champ Dirrell drops and defeats hometown hero Han
The co-main event saw former world champion Anthony Dirrell (32-1, 24 KOs) drop El Paso’s Abraham Han (26-4, 16 KOs) on his way to a unanimous decision win in their 10-round super middleweight contest.
“I thought I did well tonight boxing him for 10 rounds,” said Dirrell. “I didn’t think I lost a round. Two of the judges thought so but I can’t do anything about that. I did what I was supposed to do.
“Han has an incredible chin. He took everything I gave him. I even went to the body and gave it to him there. I was trying to go the body until the end but he still stood up. All I could do was keep pressuring him and get the victory.”
Greeted by a chorus of boos upon entering the ring, Dirrell sent the hometown fighter to the canvas with a right hand to the head late in round one as the bell rang. Han tried to use his movement, switching stances and tying Dirrell up to frustrate his opponent, and had some success as the two men wrestled each other to the canvas in the waning moments of round four and continued to push and shove on the ground until they were broken up by referee Laurence and sent to their corners.
Han was able to occasionally land clean punches, but nothing that ever disrupted the attack from Dirrell, who was too consistent and sharp with his power punches. Han believed that his lack of an effective jab hurt him in this fight.
“I wasn’t happy with my performance,” said Han. “I couldn’t get my jab going at all. If I had been more effective with that I think I would have been able to win more rounds.”
After 10 rounds of action, all three judges score the bout in favor of Dirrell by scores of 100-89 and 99-90 twice. Dirrell, a former titleholder at 168-pounds vowed that he plans to fight one more time, for a world title.
“The champions at 168-pounds better look out,” said Dirrell. “It’s going to be my last fight but I’m hungry to win another title.”
Marrero stuns Lara with first-round KO
The opening bout of the telecast saw exciting featherweight contender Claudio Marrero (23-2, 16 KOs) deliver a stunning one punch knockout of Jorge Lara (29-1-2, 21 KOs) in the first round of their featherweight bout.
“I knew he would be aggressive and we worked very hard in training camp to achieve this,” said Marrero. “I saw my opportunity and I knew that it was over once I connected.”
“I just got caught with a great punch,” said Lara. “I wanted to be aggressive and give the fans a great show. It didn’t go my way. I’ll be back and I’ll be better. I’m going to get back to work and keep pushing toward my goals.”
Lara charged forward in the opening seconds, but was caught by a perfect left hook from Marrero during one of the early exchanges in the fight and was sent to the canvas. While he tried to get to his feet, he was clearly hurt as referee Rocky Burke halted the bout 33 seconds into the opening round.
“This was a message to the whole division,” said Marrero. “I’m a championship-caliber fighter and I showed it again tonight. I’m ready to take on every champion out there. I want the best challenges and I proved tonight that I’m able to beat anyone. I have all the skills and I can’t wait to show them off against the best.”
For a complete look at Lopez vs Cruz, check out our fight page.