Monday, January 30, 2012

The Return of "JuanMa"

By Rich Mancuso

Showtime got the fight, the rematch with Orlando Salido and Juan Manuel Lopez set for March 10th at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in Puerto Rico. Last April, Salido knocked out Lopez and took the featherweight title for a second time. Since then Lopez has been on the comeback, also getting over some domestic issues at home

Top Rank, promoter of the fight and of Lopez had contemplated letting Lopez iron out his own issues. Once, he was one of their highly touted fighters and Bob Arum was looking at an eventual Lopez-Yuriorkis Gamboa main event at Madison Square Garden in New York City. But, Lopez had a setback and Gamboa had other ambitions moving up in weight.

That fight could still happen, but Lopez once again has to prove that he is this world class fighter that can overcome adversity. To Top Rank, this could be a make or break fight for Lopez. He is fighting the Mexican, Salido in his backyard. The issue also, as has been reported, is Lopez wants to train and fight in San Juan so he can be closer to his family.

Apparently that issue has been resolved. Arum is pleased and so is Lopez. The objective is to reclaim the featherweight title and once again take it one step at a time. Arum took this fight to Showtime. It had nothing to do with bitterness or a competitive war of words with HBO. To Arum, Showtime had the appropriate slot and he went with the date that was available, and the network values Lopez as a major fighter on their roster and televised the first fight.

At the press conference in Puerto Rico Tuesday, Lopez said “This fight is the most important of my career and I will train very hard to regain my title.” In that first fight, Salido put Lopez on the mat in the fifth round and the bout was called in the eighth when Lopez could not punch back. The three judges had the fight even when it was stopped.

However, something seemed to be wrong that night in Puerto Rico. Arum had alluded to Lopez not being as defensive in his prior fights at Madison Square Garden against Rogers Mtagwa in 2009, and in a featherweight title defense over Steve Luevano in 2010.

That was when Arum was leading to a build up for an eventual Lopez and Gamboa fight. But the promoter wanted his two fighters to milk in some more money before they met in the ring. Now, with Lopez fighting to regain a championship, and with Gamboa moving up in weight, the lure and possibility of that fight occurring have went out the window.

Lopez had one fight after the loss to Salido, stopping Mike Oliver in the second round back in October. Lopez said, “There were no excuses,” referring to the loss. If he loses this time, there will be no more room for excuses…

This post is sponsored in part by Garden City NY Real Estate & Forest Hills Real Estate

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