Emmanuel Rodriguez, who briefly held the IBF’s 118 lb. world title, will get another chance to become their champ in August. This as Premier Boxing Champions and Showtime confirmed that the Puerto Rican Rodriguez will meet surging Melvin Lopez on August 12th.
From the Showtime/PBC release:
“Former world champion Emmanuel Rodriguez will take on streaking contender Melvin Lopez for the vacant IBF Bantamweight World Championship headlining action live on SHOWTIME on Saturday, August 12 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from The Theater at MGM National Harbor in Maryland.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will see undefeated rising star and Capitol Heights, Maryland-native Gary Antuanne Russell taking on fellow unbeaten Kent Cruz in the 10-round super lightweight co-main event, plus sensational top prospect and Landover, Maryland-native Travon Marshall duels unbeaten two-time Olympian Gabriel Maestre in the 10-round welterweight telecast opener.
Fighting out of Manati, Puerto Rico, Rodríguez (21-2, 13 KOs) defeated the previously unbeaten Gary Antonio Russell last October by technical decision to put himself back into position to fight for the world title. The 30-year-old originally won the IBF Bantamweight World Title with a unanimous decision victory over Paul Butler in 2018 and successfully defended it against the then-unbeaten Jason Moloney. Rodríguez went on to lose the title to former undisputed champion Naoya Inoue in their May 2019 title bout.
“I’m happy to have this chance to become a world champion again,” said Rodriguez. “We’re gonna go out there to win in spectacular fashion and my goal is to show that I’m the best fighter in the world at 118-pounds. My goal is to become undisputed at bantamweight, however I’m not overlooking Melvin Lopez, because he’s a good fighter and will come to give it his all on August 12.”
The 25-year-old Lopez (29-1, 19 KOs) has won eight-straight fights since suffering his only career loss in October 2019. Originally from Nicaragua and now fighting out of Miami, Lopez has fought professionally since 2015 and began competing stateside in 2018. Lopez scored three victories in 2022, starting the year with knockouts of Juan Gabriel Medina and Victor Ruiz, before most recently defeating Jobert Alvarez last December. Out of his last 10 victories, Lopez has ended nine of those inside of the distance.
“I’m very excited that the time is almost here to fight for a world title,” said Lopez. “We’ve had a great training camp and everyone has sacrificed and worked hard so that we’re at our best on August 12. I’m going to show everyone why I earned this opportunity and repay my team for all of their efforts. I have a lot of respect for Emmanuel, but the best man will have his hand raised when we share the ring.”
Our insider Dan Rafael reported last week that Rodriguez-Lopez would headline for PBC and be for another piece to the world bantamweight title puzzle. This, after former undisputed champ, Japan’s Naoya “The Monster” Inoue, vacated the four world titles to move up in weight for a world title challenge. Inoue will host American Stephen Fulton next week in a unified 122 lb. clash for Fulton’s titles.
Back to Rodriguez-Lopez for the IBF title, it will come on the heels of the vacant WBC bantamweight championship bout between former champ Nonito Donaire and Alexandro Santiago on the Errol Spence-Terence Crawford PPV undercard on July 29th. The now 40 year old Donaire has previously held the WBC 118 lb. title on two occasions, having lost it both times to Inoue.
It’s obvious that the winner of Donaire-Santiago will be in position to unify with the Rodriguez-Lopez winner coming two weeks, as they fighters are all part of the PBC umbrella.