Tonight’s ShoBox: The New Generation on ShowTime featured a GH3 Promotions card headlined by junior featherweights Adam Lopez (15-0, 7KO’s) and Mario Munoz (16-1-1), scheduled to go 10 rounds. The card took place at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and even though Lopez is from San Antonio, Texas he is not unfamiliar with fighting on the East Coast.
This was a big night for Lopez as much of the talk centered on the fact that his team believes he will be ready and able to challenge for a world title by the end of 2016.
If you’ve listened to any of the last several shows in which Lopez was a guest then you’re familiar with the notion that Lopez is gearing up for a title shot. In fact, the last time Lopez was on, host Nestor Gibbs made it a point to question whether or not Lopez was being rushed, and it wasn’t the first time. Questions regarding Lopez being moved too fast have resulted in conversational fodder for the show, specifically when Lopez is a guest or finds himself in the headlines portion of the show.
Lopez and his team maintain that they are comfortable moving at their current pace, and Adam seems especially geared towards a crack at the world title realm. Actually, Lopez is so anxious that he is comfortable campaigning at both bantamweight and junior featherweight for the purposes of maneuvering through the quickest route to the title.
Tonight’s ShoBox was no different as the commentators discussed Lopez and his team’s current projection of fighting for a world title by the end of the year. The commentating team was in agreeance that Lopez is not quite ready for a world title fight, but would their opinions be swayed following the fight’s conclusion?
Lopez looked sharp out the gate, employing a more precision-based offense. His jab was there, but it was the moments in which he chose to carefully lay the groundwork for an assortment of power shots that would pay off deeper into the fight. That’s not to say Lopez was all setup and no punch because he was making his shots count against Munoz. Aside from the fact that those power shots were landing flush and obviously having their effect, they also kept Munoz’s offense in check. In fact, Lopez made use of a couple check hooks that kept Munoz, who came out applying pressure in round 1, in check.
The action got dirty in the 2nd round and that brand of fighting clearly favored Munoz, who was undefeated heading into tonight’s action, as he was able to at least not be totally helpless, but it was still Lopez in control. As Munoz attempted to muddy the waters in close quarters, Lopez just stayed as calm as possible and made Munoz pay with power shots that connected from nearly all angles.
Lopez was just so crafty in the ring. He was making all kinds of moves and seemed to be a step or two ahead of his opponent (and the referee) all night, even when Munoz was able to string together some decent offense.
It was Munoz’s job to make the fight against Lopez because Lopez could sit back and pick Munoz apart if he chose to, but if Lopez was going to come forward and attack then the discrepancy in ability would show.
As the fight continued, Munoz’s activity made a few rounds closer.
Some of the rounds, in fact, were difficult to call only because of the reality that certain judges prefer certain things from a fighter’s performance. If you look at Munoz’s reckless attack and see a fighter trying to make the fight by being aggressive and staying busy to prevent a lull in action then you might award him the 10. But Lopez was clearly landing the cleaner punches and more times than not, the experienced judge, the quality professional, will award that fighter the round without hesitating.
Munoz was game, no question about that. However, the real issue for Lopez was that he was allowing himself to get sucked into Munoz’s game on occasion, making it difficult for Lopez to set up an actual ending to the fight before the final bell sent it into the judges’ hands.
In round 5, following a nasty head-butt from Lopez onto Munoz, Lopez landed a hard shot below the belt which sent Munoz to the canvas. Lopez was warned, but it might have been worth it because he was able to string together some solid offense, the kind that foreshadowed a potential stoppage.
Lopez followed up the 5th round with some heavy leather on Munoz early in the 6th. Yet, Munoz started to pick things up as he did his best to make things uncomfortable for Lopez. In that same round, Lopez showed some vulnerability as his right eye started to swell up fast, in all likelihood stemming from the physicality of the fight and a multitude of legal punches and accidental contact from Munoz.
The remainder of the fight was Lopez picking his moments and keeping the temp in his favor while Munoz attempted but never rectified the things necessary to close the gap in the scorecards.
The scores read 97-93 and 98-92 twice for Adam Lopez, giving him the unanimous decision victory in his 15th professional win.
Despite the stellar performance in which Lopez displayed levels he’d yet to show to this stage in his career, the commentating crew remained unenthusiastic regarding Lopez’s hopes of securing an end of the year title shot. Instead, Steve Farhood offered up a game plan for Lopez in which he’d fight a faded former champion next. Then, fight a meaningful top contender to close the year in order to gauge his readiness for some time in 2017.
Farhood is one of the smartest boxing minds out there and his advice is sound if not safe and incredibly smart. Lopez should listen and continue to make strides as he has been.
But just because Lopez would be better served waiting for his title shot doesn’t mean he can’t win a title if he chooses to fight for one this year. Lopez is in a stacked division, but two of the best fighters in Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg have made it known that their time in the division is coming to an end, possibly after they meet to unify their junior featherweight titles on February 27th.
Julio Cesar Ceja will defend his title against Hugo Ruiz on the same day as Frampton-Quigg in a rematch of their August 29th bout. Lopez would fare well against either fighter with the assumption that he’ll fight at least twice more before the fight would ever take place.
If some of these belts become vacated and you look at the deeper portion of the junior featherweight pool then you realize that Lopez is a very enticing option right now to claim a belt, but even more so after the notoriously busy fighter gets two or even three more fights under his belt before his 2016 finale.