EL PASO, TX. – Rugged veteran contender Josesito Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs) won a unanimous decision over Miguel Cruz (17-1, 11 KOs) in a welterweight attraction that headlined Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes Saturday night from Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas.
“I beat a great undefeated fighter tonight and I was able to out class him,” said Lopez. “I have some boxing ability clearly. I used my skills tonight. I felt that I dominated the pace, out worked him and I never let him do anything that hurt me.”
“Josesito was stronger than I thought,” said Cruz. “I took a little too long to get off and get going and it cost me.”
The action began to heat up in round three as Lopez broke through and began landing flush on Cruz to the head. Lopez controlled the action against Cruz on the ropes and when the real estate shifted to the middle of the ring.
Cruz, who stated before the fight that attacking the body would be key, was twice deducted points by referee Rafael Ramos for low blows, once in round five and again in round six. This forced Cruz to abandon his predominant strategy.
“I didn’t agree with the calls on the low blows,” said Cruz. “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.
“This is just another step in my journey. I didn’t get hurt or anything. I just need to get better in the gym and keep working combinations. I just have to get better.”
Under the guidance of renowned trainer Robert Garcia, Lopez boxed effectively and worked through the body attack and low blows to consistently win rounds and keep Cruz’s offense mostly at bay. After 10 rounds, judges ruled in favor of Lopez by scores of 98-90 and 99-89 twice.
“I think the biggest difference has been Robert Garcia in my corner,” said Lopez. “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.
“Welterweight has a lot of good fighters, but I know I can compete with them. I’m a fan-friendly fighter who’s always going to leave it all in the ring.”
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 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.”
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.”