COMMERCE — It wasn’t a unanimous decision, but an obvious swelling of crowd support would dictate otherwise.
Professional boxer Damien Lopez faced his toughest opponent yet in his 10th professional bout against Moris Rodriguez of Sacramento.
The 2013 Burbank High graduate, who fights out of the Burbank Boxing Club, went the distance with Rodriguez, who traded shots with the 23-year-old Burbank native in the welterweight bout.
Lopez absorbed an array of blows but came out on top in a majority-decision victory against Rodriguez in the main event of the “Battle of the Rising Stars” card at Commerce Casino on Saturday.
“He was a tough fighter, but I felt like I got the better shots at him,” said Lopez, who remains unbeaten since turning pro in 2016. “I took some shots. He got a couple shots in, but every now and then I was off-balance.
“He seemed like he was gassed out. I didn’t take initiative on some of it, but I just need to walk in. It’s a learning experience. He was the toughest opponent so far, but I think I got the better shots and I think I won the fight.”
In the judging for the six-round bout, one judge ruled a tie scored at 57-57, but was overruled by the ringside judges who awarded Lopez the match by 58-56 and 59-55 scores.
Lopez, at 5 feet 10 inches, improves to 9-0-1, while Rodriguez drops to 7-14-1.
As the fight came to a close in the sixth round, Rodriguez’s left eye started to noticeably swell after intense back-and-forth action early in the round, but Lopez was unable to drop his opponent.
“We could’ve cut the ring a little better,” said David Lopez, Damien’s father and trainer. “We let [Rodriguez] circle a few too many times. Damien did hurt him a few times and could’ve stayed on him a little longer — got off a little more punches and a little more aggression on the times Damien had him on the ropes.
“Overall, I was pretty proud. We knew it was a tough opponent coming it. I couldn’t really ask for more.”
Lopez used his reach to keep Rodriguez at bay for most of the opening minutes of the first round. As the Burbank boxer gradually opened up and attempted body shots, Rodriguez countered with blows to the head. Lopez seemed unfazed, however, staying elusive around the ring as the first round came to a close.
Lopez started to gain momentum in the second round with an early head shot to Rodriguez. The unbeaten fighter cornered his opponent against the ropes and started to pound Rodriguez with blows to the body.
Lopez, who’s trained at Burbank Boxing Club since he was 10, continued to stay aggressive in the third round and cornered Rodriguez again, eventually opening up for a few blows to the head. Nevertheless, Rodriguez was still standing, athough he appeared tired.
“In the beginning, I was taking initiative and then I backed off to move around,” Lopez said. “He seemed like he was going around and around and I was trying to cut him off, but I still need to learn some things. I made some mistakes, but next time I have to review my video and fix the mistakes.”
Lopez, whose nickname is “El Machine” for his unrelenting motor, looked sharp in the final three rounds despite Rodriguez’s counters. Lopez maintained his aggressiveness and cornered his opponent a number of times, but still was unable to deal a knockout blow.