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There were three judges scoring John Leo Dato's fight Saturday in Las Vegas. 

Dato made sure their scorecards weren't necessary. 

The boxer from Santa Maria, who was making his Las Vegas debut, knocked out Juan Antonio Lopez in the fifth round of their bout at the MGM Grand. 

The fight was part of the undercard for the Manny Pacquiao-Keith Thurman main event. Dato and Pacquiao, who are both natives of the Philippines, spent some time training together in the weeks leading up to Saturday's fights.  

With the victory, Dato's career record improved to 12-0-1 overall. Eight of Dato's victories have come via knockout.

The 26-year-old Dato ended the bout with a display of power.

The former Pioneer Valley High football, wresting and track standout dominated the opening of the fifth round, eventually trapping Lopez against the ropes. Dato used his body to create an opening, setting up a short right hook to the ribs that forced Lopez to fall to one knee.

Dato went to a corner while referee Robert Byrd began his 10-count. Lopez wasn't able to recover in time and Byrd ended the fight with 2:05 left in the fifth round.

After the fight was called, Dato celebrated by climbing a turnbuckle. He then hugged Raul Anguiano, one of his two trainers, before falling to the canvas on both knees, in disbelief at his latest victory. 

The bout was held inside the very same ring at the very same arena where Dato's idol, the world champion Pacquiao, defeated Thurman in a 12-round split decision later Saturday night.

Lopez, a southpaw, is now 13-7 in his career. 

Dato checked in at 127 1/2 pounds at Friday afternoon's weigh-in. The scheduled six-round bout was held in the featherweight division. 

After a relatively even first two rounds, Dato began to take control of the fight in the third, nearly scoring a knockdown.

Dato took an aggressive approach early in the round, crowding Lopez in the middle of the ring. After a few shots from Lopez bounced harmlessly off Dato's guard, he countered with two solid right hooks to the head, both of which fazed Lopez.

Later in the round, Dato began to use his jab to line up combinations with his right hand. Dato got Lopez against the ropes again with a minute left in the round and connected with another clean shot to the head of Lopez. 

Dato continued to batter Lopez in the fourth round, pinning him against the ropes and nearly knocking Lopez down with 1:23 left in the round. 

Dato then started the fifth by getting Lopez in a corner and landing a hard right hand to the head.

A few seconds later, the fight would be over.

Dato bodied Lopez down the ropes and teed up a quick right to Lopez's ribcage. Lopez immediately crumpled to the canvas and wasn't close to answering the referee's 10 count.

The victory is Dato's fourth of 2019. The featherweight will likely fight again later this year, possibly in the fall.

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Joe Bailey is the sports editor at Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Contact him with tips and story ideas at jbailey@leecentralcoastnews.com or (805) 739-2239. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jbaileysmsports

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