Talented Nicaraguan prospect Melvin Lopez (17-0, 10) made his Filipino debut earlier today as he took on domestic journeyman Renan Portes (10-8, 6) on ESPN5. The bout looked to be a chance to exposure Lopez to a new audience and stay busy, fighting his 5th bout of 2018 whilst Portes was fighting his third bout of the year, following back-to-back defeats on the road. Sadly for Lopez it was a bout that really showed up his flaws.
To begin with it looked like Lopez was a talented prospect, backing up Portes and putting the Filipino under-pressure with his accurate combinations. Despite controlling the round Lopez was looking like a fighter who was fighting well within himself, quickly getting a comfortable range and and boxing well behind his southpaw jab.
In the second round Lopez moved up a gear but continued to fight at a very comfortable pace, not taking risks or doing anything out of the ordinary. Instead he'd look for holes, counter well and control behind his long and sharp jab whilst making Portes fall short and look third rate. Portes then began to build his confidence and put up a fight more in rounds 3 and 4, as Lopez seemed to settle into rather predictable rhythm.
Portes wasn't discouraged by Lopez and began to land hayemakers in round 5. He had some genuine success with the shots as Lopez began to look a little frustrated with the Filipino fighter, who had stuck around longer than Lopez would have wanted. Not only had Portes stuck around but at the end of round 6 he had managed to give Lopez something to really think about with some solid right hands, and the warning signs were there that Portes was dangerous unless.
Those shots from Portes in round 6 seemed to anger Lopez who came out for round 7 with some bad intent, and looked for a stoppage of his own. Portes gritted out Lopez's early charge in the round and managed to drop the touted prospect with a huge right hand. Lopez got up but was forced to take more right hands as Portes began to find the Nicaraguan time and time and time again.
Lopez fought much more smartly in round 8, the final round, keeping the distance and looking for straight left hands from range whilst being fully aware of Portes' shots. By then though the harm to his reputation was done. He had been pushed hard by a Filipino journeyman who had previously been stopped in 2 rounds by Japanese Super Flyweight prospect Hayate Kaji.
At the end of the bout the complacency of Lopez came close to costing him the bout, with the judges scoring it 76-76, and 76-75, twice, in his favour. Essentially he was just 1 round away from losing to a man he was expected to school. For Lopez it was a lucky escape in the end, whilst Portes seriously enhanced his reputation following 4 losses in his previous 6. He may have lost again, but Portes showed he shouldn't be overlooked going forward.
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