Luis Alberto Lopez picked up a stay-busy win ahead of a potential title shot later this fall.

The mandatory challenger to the IBF featherweight title, Mexicali’s Lopez scored two knockdowns en route to a knockout win at 1:24 of round two Saturday evening at Pechanga Arena in San Diego.

The scheduled eight-round contest was designed for Lopez to mark time while the powers-that-be attempt to sort out the featherweight title picture. Vargas hoped to test the streaking contender, though was only able to enjoy singular moments before succumbing to the Mexican’s power.

Lopez sent Vargas to the canvas early in round two but left himself open for a brief momentum shift by Vargas soon after the Colombian journeyman rose from the canvas. It didn’t take long for Lopez to regain momentum, pinning Vargas along the ropes and ending the fight with a left hook to the body. Vargas (20-11, 15KOs) remained down for the full-ten count.

The win sends Lopez’s record to 26-2 (15KOs), extending his current nine-fight win streak. Included among that run is a seventh-round knockout of then-unbeaten Isaac Lowe, a stablemate of heavyweight champion Tyson Fury whom Lopez blasted out in their IBF title eliminator last December in England.

Lopez emerged as the number-one contender to the IBF featherweight title currently held by two-time champ Josh Warrington. A November clash is possible, provided that Warrington doesn’t instead face countryman Leigh Wood.

Local prospect Austin Brooks (8-0, 2KOs) rode an opening round knockdown all the way to the finish line in a four-round, unanimous decision victory over Los Angeles’ Oliver Galicia (5-1-1, 3KOs). Judges Rudy Barragan (40-35), Robert Hoyle (40-35) and Dr. Lou Moret (40-35) all scored every round in favor of San Diego’s Brooks in their swing bout between unbeaten featherweights fighting above the divisional limit.

Antonio Mireles was forced to overcome the first knockdown of his career to preserve his perfect record. A right hand had Iowa’s Mireles down and in trouble midway through the opening round before rallying to stop Kaleel Carter in the second round of their heavyweight contest. The undefeated southpaw rose from the deck to land a series of power shots in forcing the stoppage at 1:52 of round two.

The opening bout of a nine-fight show saw Mireles (5-0, 5KOs) have to fend off a determined Carter (2-2, 2KOs), who landed blows early in the bout. A right hand had Mireles badly hurt, with another sending him to the canvas. Mireles shook off the blow, slowly asserting himself toward the end of the round.

Carter was still upset minded in round two, connecting with a left hook that caught Mireles’ attention. Mireles found an opening midway through the round, pinning Carter on the ropes and connecting with straight left hands. Carter tried to escape but was sent to the other side of the ring and dazed to the point of turning his back following a Mireles barrage, prompting an immediate stoppage.

Also on the card, Miguel ‘Caveman’ Contreras outpointed Josec Ruiz (23-7-3, 16KOs) in an entertaining but one-sided eight round lightweight battle. Scores were 80-72, 80-72 and 79-73 in favor of Contreras (12-1-1, 6KOs), who snaps a two-fight winless skid.

Headlining the show, WBO featherweight titlist Emanuel Navarrete (35-1, 29KOs) attempts his third title defense as he faces first-time title challenger Eduardo Baez (21-2-2, 7KOs).

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox