By Jake Donovan
Ganigan Lopez scored a wide unanimous decision over Mario Rodriguez over 12 rounds Saturday evening in Guadalajara, Mexico. The outcome was shocking only in the level of ignorance offered by the three judges as well as follies in continued failed experiments with open scoring.
Scores of 120-109, 119-109 and 118-110 were incredibly laughable, though also confusing considering the results revealed from open scoring earlier in the fight.
Lopez entered the fight stuck between making one more run at strawweight or pursuing glory three pounds north at junior flyweight. The safest way to test the waters at a new weight is to catch a known fighter also moving up.
Such was the case here, as Rodriguez is now three fights removed from life as a strawweight titlist. His title reign was one and done, scoring a shocking upset win over then-unbeaten Nkosinathi Joyi in Sept. '12, only to lose the belt in his first defense to visiting Katsunari Takayama last March.
The former titlist appeared reborn early on versus Lopez, who entered 2014 on the strength of a three fight win streak. Rodriguez landed the more telling blows, to which Lopez responded poorly despite offering superior ring movement.
The contrast in styles could make for a sound debate on who was winning the fight. Open scoring didn't help resolve that issue, as separate announcements had both fighters winning after four rounds. Scores of 39-37, 40-37 and 40-36 were initially read in favor of Lopez roughly one minute into the 5th round, only for the same scores to be announced in favor of Rodriguez later in the frame.
Whatever the case, Lopez picked up the pace in the middle rounds, absorbing fewer punches while putting his height and reach to good use. Rodriguez was effective early on in closing the gap and scoring with clean power shots, but failed to cut off the ring just long enough to let Lopez either narrow his lead or pull ahead to the point of the fight being out of reach, depending on which set of scores were accurate earlier in the bout.
The announcement following eight rounds of action revealed Lopez to have an insurmountable lead on the scorecards, ahead 78-74, 79-73 and 80-73.
Rodriguez came back strong in rounds nine and ten, landing damaging blows to which Lopez did not react well. The punches went largely unnoticed by the judges, though Lopez held up well enough to box his way to a clean 12th round and eventual victory.
The win runs Lopez' record to 24-5 (13KO), picking up his fourth straight win in the process. Rodriguez has now lost three of his last four, falling to 16-9-4 (11KO).
Their 12-round bout served as the main event of a show aired live on Fox Deportes in the United States and on Televisa in Mexico.
It's bad enough for Ramon Alvarez to have to live in the shadow of his far more famous younger brother, Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez. Even worse for the fringe super welterweight contender is to get booed by his hometown crowd while his brother is seated ringside.
Full blame doesn't rest entirely on Alvarez' shoulders, as he was forced to settle for a second round mercy stoppage over a disinterested Gilberto Flores in the evening's co-feature.
Little happened in the fight, other than Flores repeatedly flopping and complaining of low blows. Lack of effort from the fight's B-side prompted the referee to wave off what little action took place, with the official time coming at 2:59 of round two.
To his credit, Alvarez was hardly celebratory over the verdict, which ran his record to 17-4-1 (10KO). The 27-year old took to heart the boos that rained down from the disappointed crowd, while Canelo offered tepid applause at ringside though cognizant of fan displeasure felt throughout the venue.
Unbeaten local super bantamweight Jorge Lara survived a pre-birthday scare, barely outlasting Jairo Hernandez in their 10-round undercard bout.
Lara looked sluggish for most of the night, but managed to do just enough to score a majority decision. One judge saw the bout at 95-95 even, while scores of 97-93 and 96-94 landed in favor of Lara (25-0-1, 17KO), who turns 23 on January 12.
Hernandez falls to 10-5 (3KO), though claims a moral victory; the fight going the distance brought an end to Lara's five-fight knockout streak heading into 2014.
Local featherweight Horacio Garcia continues his transition from prospect to rising contender, scoring three knockdowns en route to a 2nd round stoppage of Cesar Saucedo in the televised opener.
Garcia was in control for the duration of the brief affair, scoring repeatedly with straight right hands. However, it was his left hook that proved the most debilitating, the final punch thrown on two of the three knockdowns. The first came with seconds left in the opening round, as Garcia landed a left hook to the temple to put Saucedo down for a mandatory eight count.
The downward spiral continued for Saucedo in round two, floored early as the result of a combination capped by a left hook. The Mexico City native once again beat the count, but was on his way out. Garcia sensed this and put on the finishing touch, a converted bolo punch that once again floored Saucedo, this time prompting a stoppage.
The official time was 1:39 of round two.
Garcia rolls to 24-0 (16KO), starting the year off early and with a bang following a 2013 campaign that only saw two ring appearances.
Saucedo suffers his second straight loss, though is now either 10-2-1 (5KO) or 3-2. His record was announced prior to the fight as 10-1-1 (5KO), while boxing data website Boxrec.com lists him as 3-1 prior to Saturday.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox