Former welterweight contender Josesito Lopez is now officially two wins into his comeback tour after scoring a 10-round shutout of Saul Corral in their Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on FS1 headliner Sunday evening at The Novo at L.A. Live in Los Angeles, California.
Scores were 100-89 across the board for Lopez, who had Corral down and nearly out at the start of the 10th and final round but was unable to put him away.
The night represented the continued rebuilding of a one-time veteran contender, as Lopez has since fallen far from grace. The Riverside native sought to make changes in his career after suffering a 6th round knockout loss to Andre Berto in March '15, parting with longtime trainer Henry Ramirez in heading to Robert Garcia's Boxing Academy in Oxnard.
The union remains a work in progress, as he entered at a fleshy 148.75 lbs. - the second straight time he comes in well above the welterweight limit (although still within contracted weight).
Conditioning aside, Lopez showed flashes of his early aggression, throwing purposeful combinations over the course of the night while all but shutting down Corral's offensive attack. A strong surge came toward the end of round six, when Lopez rocked the visiting Mexican boxer with a combination but failed to properly follow up in his attack.
He made up for it with a two-fisted attack at the start of the 10th and final round. Corral was pinned along the ropes, overwhelmed as he eventually sank to the canvas for the bout's lone official knockdown. He beat the count and managed to make it to the final bell, but absorbed a lot of punishment over the final three minutes of the main event.
Lopez advances to 35-7 (19KOs), although talks of returning to the title fold need to slow way down. Corral falls to 23-9 (14KO) and remains winless in five starts outside of his native Mexico.
In the evening's co-feature, Alejandro Luna kept his unbeaten record intact with a 10-round points win over fringe contender Andrey Klimov.
Luna was in control early, controlling the distance and tempo against Klimov, a past title challenger who accepted the assignment on two week's notice. A clear cut win appeared to be in the works for the unbeaten local lightweight, as Klimov fell behind early and suffered a cut along his eye due to an accidental headbutt.
The tide turned midway through the bout, with action also slowing in the middle rounds. Luna gave away a couple of rounds before resurging in round seven although never able to offer a sustained attack the rest of the way. Klimov went for broke in round ten, drawing blood over Luna's left eye but not even doing enough to win the round, never mind the fight.
Luna advances to 22-0 (15KOs) with the win, coming in his first ring appearance since an uneven performance in his ESPN-televised victory over Naim Nelson last summer. Klimov - who came up short in a June '14 vacant title bid versus Jose Pedraza and in lopsided defeats to Terence Crawford and most recently Liam Walsh - has now dropped three in a row in falling to 19-4 (9KOs).
Opening the telecast, 2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas enjoyed a successful pro debut with a 1st round stoppage of Thomas Smith.
The lightweight battle didn't figure to be very competitive but expected to at least go rounds as Smith had never previously been stopped in his young career. That dynamic changed in a matter of three minutes for the Dallas native, who was pummeled from the opening bell as the locally based Balderas came to put on a show.
A round's worth of punishment was enough to convince Smith (3-5-1, 2KOs) to not come out for a second round, informing his corner and the referee that he was done for the night.
The official time was 3:00 of round one.
Balderas (1-0, 1KO) was one of the more heartfelt stories to come from the 2016 Rio Olympics. The charismatic Mexican-American came within one fight of contending for an Olympic medal, but still showed plenty of upside to where it was believed he'd make for an outstanding pro boxer. This wasn't lost on Richard Schaefer and his staff at Ringstar Promotions, signing him straight out the amateurs upon formal announcement of the promotional company last year.
Three more Olympians turned pro on the show, though all coming off-TV:
- Lindolfo Delgado (1-0, 1KO), who represented Mexico in the 2016 Rio Olympics, cruised to a 3rd round knockout over countryman Luis Angel Silva (4-10, 1KO);
- His teammate, 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist Misael Rodriguez had a much tougher night at the office, getting tagged early but eventually solving determined opponent Brian True (1-7-1, 1KO). Scores were 40-36 across the board, but hardly reflective of the ring action, especially early on when True was able to touch up Rodriguez (1-0, 0KOs) on a number of occasions.
- Lithuanian Olympian Eimantas Stanionis (1-0, 1KO) enjoyed a quick night at the office, stopping Rasheed Olawale Lawal (1-5-1) in the 1st round of their welterweight battle.