The heir apparent to the Puerto Rican boxing throne was in top form last night, headlining a big show at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City as Juan Manuel Lopez kept his WBO super bantam title against opponent Olivier Lontchi.
Lopez was the definite favorite to retain going into the clash as Montreal based Cameroon native Lontchi had yet to rise above his regional status as NABA titlist and was in over his head.
A champion who can punch like Lopez, particularly a southpaw, presents a very difficult entry test onto the world stage and Lontchi wisely chose to stick and move in the early rounds, catching the oncoming champion with jabs before escaping.
But Lopez began to close distance and force the bout to the inside and along the ropes, where his strength advantage was evident.
Lontchi launched a surprise assault in the fifth and with his quicker hands was able to outbox Lopez, who seemed taken aback by the sudden change in tactics.
But the challenger's success was short-lived as Lopez adjusted and bore down upon the Canadian, landing both upstairs and down with ever increasing regularity.
In the end, Lontchi didn't have the punch to keep Lopez off once he tired and had to stand and fight the champion.
The ninth saw Lontchi finally wilt under the pressure of Lopez, dropping to the canvas after taking a massive power left hand. The Montrealer bravely beat the count and carried on but Team Lontchi chose to not send their man out for more punishment in the tenth.
Juan Manuel Lopez, 26-0 (24), remains undefeated and keeps the belt for the fourth time while Olivier Lontchi loses for the first occasion on his career to drop to 18-1-2 (8).
A hefty undercard saw an IBF light middle title eliminator short circuited when Yuri Foreman, 27-0 (8), could no longer continue against Cornelius Bundrage, 29-4 (17), after suffering a bad cut from an accidental head clash resulting in a third round no contest declaration.
Mexican legend Jorge Arce, 52-5-1 (4), returned from his world title loss to Vic Darchinyan in February to KO Fernando Lumacad, 19-2-2 (7), of The Philippines in the third of their WBC super flyweight title eliminator.
One of America's top light middle prospects showed he could deliver against a seasoned opponent as Vanes Martirosyan, 25-0 (16), put on a clinic against veteran Andrey Tsurkan, 26-5 (17), before the contest was called off in the sixth.
Another superb southpaw from Puerto Rico was on the bill as featherweight Mario Santiago, 20-1-1 (14), returned from a draw against WBO titlist Steven Luevano a year ago to outpoint Gilberto Sanchez Leon, 19-6-2 (7), over eight rounds.