By Jon Uddin✏️
Things got very interesting in Las Vegas Saturday night…
It’s easy to write the late fill in fights off when we hear about them. We automatically fill in the “A” side fighter as the winner, leaving the method of knockout or decision as the only thing in question. An assumption is made that whoever has been called upon to fill the void left by the original fighter that couldn’t fulfill his duties for whatever reason, will be serviceable enough to not be a human punching bag in the ring, but be far from a threat to crash the party.
Saturday night at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas we were supposed to witness former Featherweight Champion 🇲🇽Oscar Valdez make his Super-Featherweight debut against Andres Gutierrez, in a fight that was mandated for the winner to face the WBC Champion 🇲🇽Miguel Berchelt. Well, someone failed to keep Gutierrez away from the Thanksgiving table Thursday, because he tipped the scales 11 pounds over the 130 pound limit at the weigh ins on Friday. For the extreme weight miss Gutierrez was immediately suspended and subject to an investigation by the WBC, but a replacement was still needed for Valdez’s fight.
Enter 🇺🇸Adam “Blunose” Lopez. Lopez, who naturally competes at Featherweight was already on the card, set to fight Luis Coria, but took the opportunity when called upon by Top Rank. We can’t know for sure, but it’s more than likely that the matchmakers only saw Lopez as a guy that knew his way around the ring enough to last a few rounds with the rugged Valdez and not much more. Add on the fact they have a bit of history together that could be used for story purposes during the fight broadcast, and everything was good to go.
Once the first round was underway the jab of Lopez was on display as was the gameplan set forth by his head trainer Buddy McGirt. Lopez used his jab and advantage in length to keep Valdez at bay when he tried to apply pressure and land his heavy left hooks. The second round showed us a Lopez that appeared calm and even more comfortable behind the jab as he continued to navigate the ring, following the advice of McGirt to not let Valdez get set on his shots as he was throwing them all with knockout intent. At the one minute mark of the round a left hook from Lopez sent Valdez crashing to the canvas and brought the fans in attendance up out of their seats. Valdez got to his feet, giving his cornerman Eddy Reynoso the signal that he was alright and finished the round, but Lopez had announced himself.
As the fight went on Valdez continued to stalk, closing the distance behind his jab and winging overhand rights and left hooks. Those shots were starting to find Lopez but he continued to stick to his plan, following his jab with an overhand right, and making Valdez pay when he missed, catching him with the left uppercut. After six rounds it appeared that Valdez had work to do if he wanted to take control of the fight, and halfway through the seventh round he got the breakthrough he needed, landing a left hook that rocked Lopez and followed that up with a jab and right hand that sent him into the ropes and on the canvas.
Lopez got to his feet and still recovering from the knockdown, continued to fight. Referee Russell Mora called out “show me something” to Lopez, which was odd since that’s just what Lopez seemed to be doing even on shaky ground. A final flurry from Valdez, that was capped off by a left and right hand that sent Lopez’s head back, was enough for Mora to jump in with seven seconds left in the round, and make what was in many people’s opinion a premature stoppage. After the strong performance from Lopez, you like to think he gets to attempt to make it to the end of the round and gather himself for the next.
After Valdez (27-0-0, 21KO) had his hand raised in victory it was announced that 2020 will hold the much anticipated fight between him and WBC Super Featherweight champ 🇲🇽Miguel Berchelt (37-1-0, 33KO). As for Lopez (13-2-0, 6KO), the disappointing loss may actually be just the beginning for him as Bob Arum let it be known that he would be rewarded for grabbing this opportunity with more in the next year. For a fighter, an opportunity is sometimes all that’s needed.
At the time of the stoppage Valdez was up 57-56 on two judges cards and 58-55 on the third.
JON UDDIN’S SCORE: 57-56 LOPEZ