Omar Juarez got back on the winning track Sunday night against game journeyman Jairo Lopez.
The 22-year-old Juarez knocked Lopez to the canvas in the fifth round and convincingly out-boxed Lopez in a welterweight fight FS1 televised from Mechanics Bank Arena in Bakersfield, California. Judges Sergio Caiz (79-72), Jerry Cantu (80-71) and Zachary Young (79-72) all scored Juarez a wide winner of a fight the better boxer clearly controlled.
Juarez improved to 12-1.
Mexico’s Lopez, 30, is 3-4 in his past seven fights. Lopez (26-14, 17 KOs) has lost either by knockout or technical knockout six times in 10 years as a pro, but Juarez, who has just five knockouts, couldn’t finish him off.
Nevertheless, Juarez got a much-needed victory Sunday night.
Juarez, of Brownsville, Texas, suffered his first professional loss in his previous appearance – a 10-round, majority-decision defeat to All Rivera on June 27 at The Armory in Minneapolis. The Philippines’ Rivera (22-5, 18 KOs) dropped Juarez in the ninth round of a fight FOX aired and won on two scorecards (96-93, 95-94, 95-95).
Though it appeared in the fifth round that Juarez might stop Lopez, his resilient opponent went the distance.
Lopez went down with 1:23 to go in the eighth round, but referee Ray Corona ruled it a push because Juarez pushed him behind his head before landing a left to Lopez’s head. Once the action resumed, Lopez continued to throw hard shots at Juarez until the final bell rang.
Lopez landed a left-right combination with about 30 seconds to go in the seventh round. Juarez landed more punches during that round, though, and built upon his already sizable lead.
After suffering a knockdown in the final minute of the fifth round, a resolute Lopez landed some shots on Juarez during a more competitive sixth round. Lopez took Juarez’s punches without incident in those three minutes, though he clearly was way behind on points by then.
Juarez and Lopez traded hard shots from close distances throughout the first two minutes of the fifth round. Once Lopez stopped punching, Juarez drilled him with a straight right that sent Lopez to one knee with 54 seconds to go in the fifth round.
Lopez got up by the time Corona’s count reached eight. Juarez attacked him, but a vulnerable Lopez backtracked and made it to the end of that fifth round.
A multi-punch combination by Juarez made Lopez move away from him just after the halfway point of the fourth round. Juarez’s left hook to the body appeared to affect Lopez with 40 seconds to go in the fourth round as well.
A precise Juarez caught Lopez with a clean left hook and an overhand right in the final 10 seconds of the third round. Lopez was more competitive for most of that round, though.
Juarez picked up in the second round where he left off during a successful first round. He continued to land power punches as Lopez pressed forward without paying much mind to defense.
Juarez clipped Lopez with a counter left hook toward the end of the second round.
Juarez’s right hand wobbled Lopez about 1:15 into the opening round. A counter right by Juarez knocked Lopez off balance and into the ropes with just under a minute remaining in the first round.
In the first fight FS1 aired Sunday night, junior featherweight Angel Barrientes easily out-boxed Victor Torres in their six-round bout.
Las Vegas’ Barrientes beat Torres by shutout on the scorecards of judges Sergio Caiz, Ralph McKnight and Damian Walton. Each judge scored their fight 60-54 for the Honolulu native.
The 19-year-old Barrientes (6-1, 4 KOs) won a third straight fight since Travon Lawson (5-0, 3 KOs) knocked him out in the third round of their December 26 bout at Shrine Auditorium & Exposition Center in Los Angeles.
The 27-year-old Torres (7-9-1, 5 KOs), of Modesto, California, took a five-fight winning streak into this bout.
Barrientes regularly landed the flusher punches on Torres, who exhibited toughness, though not a lot of skill.
The busier, better Barrientes finished strong. He battered a defenseless Torres with an array of power punches near a corner just before the midway mark of the sixth round.
A crisp left hook by Barrientes knocked Torres’ mouthpiece clear out of the ring late in the fourth round. Barrientes previously dislodged Torres’ mouthpiece with a left hook during an exchange in the second round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.