Lopez, who won by scores of 117-111, 117-111 and 115-113, left Kennedy with blood streaming from a huge cut over his left eye and swelling beneath both. The right eye nearly closed, an indication of Lopez’s dominance.
“It was a hard fight, but I had great preparation for this fight. Thank God that I came out ahead,” said Lopez. “My plan was to see what he had the first couple of rounds, and then, after that, to do what I did. I was able to box and that’s how I came out ahead.”
The 25-year-old Kennedy (17-1, 7 KOs) was coming off a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Jorge Diaz (15-1, 9 KOs) in March, the same Diaz who outpointed Lopez (22-2, 7 KOs) in March of last year.
Lopez, 24, was coming off an eight-round unanimous decision over Eduardo Arcos.
Kennedy said that he had been offered a shot at WBC and WBO bantamweight titleholder Nonito Donaire if he could drop to 118 pounds. Lopez said that he would also entertain that opportunity.
“I would like that opportunity, but at 122 pounds, because I don’t think that I can make 118. I look forward to fighting the best at 122,” said Lopez. “I want to take a little rest, but I want to get right back into the gym and to stay in shape. Boxing is a 24-hour job, and if a great opportunity comes, then I’m ready to take it.”
Lopez did a good job of alternately circling and boxing from a distance, at times coming forward and out-working Kennedy as he generally beat his opponent to the punch.
Kennedy, meanwhile, failed to cut off the ring, and by the sixth round, the welts were pronounced beneath each of his eyes.
In an earlier lightweight bout, Philadelphia’s Karl Dargan 10-0, 5 KOs) battered Juan Suazo bloody en route to a sixth-round stoppage in their scheduled eight-rounder.
Trained by Naazim Richardson, who also handles RING and WBC light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, the 26-year-old Dargan dropped Suazo (8-5-3, 5 KOs) with a left hand in the first round and had him bleeding from the nose as well as a cut over his left eye by the third round.
But 1:20 of the sixth round, Suazo’s corner man Pat Mitchell had seen enough as he threw in the towel, prompting referee Benji Esteves to wave an end to the action.
In a clash of featherweights, Puerto Rico’s 20-year-old Camilo Perez (5-0, 4 KOs) flattened Milwaukee’s 29-year-old James Owens (4-6, 2 KOs) with a left hook that ended the bout at 1:43 of the second round.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org