Salido vs. Lopez: Is it the End for Juanma?

By Robert Jackson: Looking ahead to a Yuriokis Gamboa matchup was the worst thing that Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez could ever do, considering he had Mexico’s Orlando Salido to face first. Salido a 47 fight veteran at the time had faced a who’s who of championship caliber fighters including Juan Manuel Marquez, Yuri Gamboa and Robert ‘The Ghost’ Guerrero – who he defeated but later had the victory declared a no contest after testing positive for PED’s.

The holder of a 34-11-2-NC record, Salido had nothing to lose coming up short in previous attempts to gain a world title against big name fighters. Lopez the heir apparent to Miguel Cotto came into the fight with a 30-0 record, was the betting favorite and it seemed just a formality that the night was his…and then off to a Gamboa mega-fight!

Not so fast, boxing’s vast history is cluttered with upsets and 2011 was the year of boxing upsets of some of boxing’s most promising rising stars – include Juanma on that list. Juanma began to show signs of chinks in his armour a couple of fights before the Salido fight against Bernabe Concepcion, where Juanma went down for the first time in his pro career and was visibly hurt but came back to stop the game Concepcion. 2-fights before the Concepcion fight Juanma struggled with Rogers Mtagwa in the 122lb weight class.

As a full featherweight, it was expected that not having to lose an extra 4lbs would benefit Lopez, adapting to the weight class with a few preliminary fights to showcase Lopez’ skills and fan friendly style was supposed to lead to a big money fight against the Cuban Gamboa. Lopez started out the Salido fight kind of slow and flat, Salido on the other hand was sharp, quick and agile and countered Lopez’ power shots with power shot’s of his own. Salido was not there to lie down. As the fight moved forwards frustration and fatique showed in Lopez demeanor and after a 5th round knockdown by Salido where Lopez was obviously hurt it was also obvious that this wasn’t going to be Lopez’ night. Lopez who never recovered after the 5th round knockdown, continued fighting hurt, and continued eating big shots, by the 8th the referee had seen enough and stopped the fight saving Juanma from himself and further punishment.

Going into the rematch this coming Saturday night, Lopez has a lot of questions to answer for his fans in his homeland and around the world. Many are saying that Lopez will once again go down in defeat and never achieve the status in boxing that once seemed to be his by default. Many are also saying that Lopez is too distracted to focus on his craft and this was and will be his undoing in the rematch. Some experts are saying that Lopez was never that accomplished it was just a matter of time before he was exposed as the overrated, underachiever he really is.

This is a do-or-die fight for the Puerto Rican, expect him to be at his best. But bear in mind Lopez has had only one fight since losing his zero and only 2 rounds of work defeating Mike Oliver by TKO. Lopez’ opponent Salido has had 2 fights and 19 rounds of work since their first meeting in April of 2011. This fight will be closer than the first and may end up controversially with Lopez getting the nod, or a quick stoppage. The ‘powers that be’ want and need for there to be a Lopez/Gamboa matchup.

Article posted on 09.03.2012

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