Who Next For Juan Manuel Lopez?

by James Slater - Now that the Kelly Pavlik-Sergio Mora middleweight title fight is off for the June 27th date it was set for at The Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, sensational puncher Juan Manuel Lopez looks set to top the bill instead. Scheduled to make the fourth defence of his WBO super-bantamweight title against an as yet unknown opponent, "Juanma" will be fighting again barely two months on from his last fight - the severe beat down he gave to the incredibly brave Gerry Penalosa..

So who should the lethal 25-year-old southpaw bomber face? There is a whisper - and it is nothing more than that at this stage - that Lopez may fight reigning WBA 122-pound champion Bernard Dunne of Ireland (Boxing News, the trade paper in the U.K, wrote about the possibility of the new WBA champ meeting Lopez later this year). Maybe this is the fight that will now top the bill on June 27th.

Dunne, who shocked the formidable Ricardo Cordoba to take the WBA strap back in March, is ready to take on the best yet again and a fight with the Puerto Rican star would intrigue many. Let's face it, whoever "Juanma" fights from here on in it's going to draw a crowd - such is the powerful fighter's popularity and ability to thrill his fans. But should the 25-0(23) possible superstar of the future actually face Dunne, what kind of fight would it be?

Many fans will immediately think of 29-year-old Dunne's awful meeting with Spain's Kiko Martinez from August of 2007. Destroyed inside a single round, Dunne lost his unbeaten record. And though the Irishman, himself an extremely popular warrior in his homeland, bounced back well enough to put four wins on his record, the fourth one being the great 11th round TKO he scored over Panamanian Cordoba, some people will still see him as a fighter with a suspect chin. And no fighter with a suspect chin has any business going in the ring with Lopez.

But has Dunne, 28-1(15) really got a bad chin? Anyone can be caught cold and this is what appeared to happen to the WBA champ when he met the hard-hitting but otherwise limited Spaniard. Make no mistake, Dunne would fight with due caution should he face the WBO super-bantam king. Still, if the fight does happen Lopez would have to be made a fairly big favourite to win. As his 23 KO's can attest, Lopez is a very dangerous man, especially early in a fight. As such, he would have a good chance of doing to Dunne what he has done to a large number of previous foes - stop him in the first few minutes of combat.

On the other hand, though, is the fact that the gritty Dunne is as game as they come and he is also a fighter who warms to the task the longer a fight goes. A slow starter he may be, but if Dunne is able to get out of the first couple of rounds against Lopez he may well draw the Puerto Rican entertainer into something of a dog fight. Dunne took the southpaw punches of the long-armed Cordoba surprisingly well, after all.

Another reason to like a Lopez-Dunne battle is the fact that the bout would give us a partial unification of the 122-pound division. Two young, peaking fighters who have real heart as well as good skills, this possible match-up is indeed a good one - even if most fans will call it a sure KO win for Lopez going in.

Again, whoever Lopez fights on June 27th, the fans are sure to want to see the fight.

Article posted on 10.05.2009

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