Colombia’s Jonathan “El Momo” Romero (23-0-0, 12 KO) on Saturday night beat Mexico’s Alejandro Lopez (24-3-0, 7 KO) to win the vacant IBF super bantamweight championship belt.
The Cali-born Romero used his superior hand and foot speed to earn a split decision over the game Mexican fighter. Judges scored the match 112-115, 115-112, and 116-111 in favor of El Momo, who was docked a point in the twelfth and final round for a low blow. Referee Genaro Rodriguez had his work cut out for him as all night he had to issue several warnings to both fighters about punching behind the head and on the break.
The much taller Romero used his reach to keep the bruising Mexican brawler at bay. Though Lopez was able to walk his man down and effectively fight on the inside for stretches — he clearly took the first two or three rounds — Romero was eventually able to get off multiple four and five-punch combinations. The turning point in the bout came in the fourth round when El Momo opened up a dangerous cut above Lopez’s left eye. Romero took control for good in the fifth when Lopez was still visibly reeling from the cut.
The bout was close from the outset and given that the fight was held in Lopez’s backyard of Tijuana, Mexico, Romero’s chances to come away with a decision on the road was shrouded in doubt. When the scores were announced, El Momo, with a Colombian flag draped over his shoulders, collapsed to his knees as his trainer and hanger-ons lifted his hands in triumph.