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Juan Manuel Lopez To Make first Defence Against Cesar Figueroa

Juan Manuel Lopezby James Slater - He made a huge statement back in June by smashing defending WBO super-bantamweight champion Daniel Ponce de Leon to defeat inside a single round, and now new champion Juan Manuel Lopez of Puerto Rico is set to have his very first title defence. Facing the 25-year-old sensation will be another Mexican, in 30-year-old Cesar Figueroa, a naturally heavier man than "Juanma." Currently, 30-6-2(22) Figueroa's last two fights have been up at 130 pounds, and the Mexican has won both bouts by KO. Now, in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, the veteran of almost forty bouts will drop back down to 122 pounds in an effort to take Lopez' world title.

Figueroa has a tough task ahead of him. Southpaw Lopez is both a lethal puncher and a very quick man. For the Mexican, who has been stopped a total of four times in his pro career, this could prove nasty. "El Cesar" has actually shared the ring with the man who Lopez won his world title from, in de Leon - Figueroa was TKO'd in the 6th. That fight happened in February of 2004, and was a non-title affair. Since then the Mexican has met Robert Guerrero at featherweight (KO by 4) and Al Seeger at super-bantam (TKO by 8). The 30-year-old then took a layoff of almost three years, before coming back to win his last two fights - both of which took place at super-featherweight. Now comes the unexpected shot at Puerto Rico's newest star, which will be Figueroa's first ever world title fight.

Big things are expected of the quite sensational and 22-0(20) Lopez. No doubt, he is entitled to a relatively "safe" first defence of his newly acquired world title, and the experienced Mexican fits the bill perfectly. Indeed, it would be one huge upset if Figueroa were to dethrone "Juanma." Not only has the 25-year-old won all but two of his fights inside the distance, he has not been forced to hear the final bell since June of 2006. If his October 4th challenger can last the full 12 rounds he will have done very well.

Following in the footsteps of greats like Felix Trinidad, Miguel Cotto and others, Lopez will no doubt be looking to carve out a career that garners him the idolisation of his countrymen - if he doesn't have this already. Anxious to make his initial defence, the big-hitting Lopez will be in no mood for Figueroa to halt his progress. I will actually be surprised if the bigger, but older and no way near as talented, Mexican makes it to the halfway stage.

Another 1st round KO is a strong possibility. Look for "Juanma" to improve to 23-0(21) on October 4th!

Article posted on 03.09.2008



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