JuanMa Suspension – What a Shame!

Juan Manuel Lopez(Photo: Amanda Kwok/SHOWTIME)) -- Paul Strauss: You knew the moment the words came out of Juan Manuel Lopez’ mouth, he was going to regret it. It was an “Ah oh” moment! It’s not the first time a fighter has had a microphone shoved into his face, only later to regret what popped out of his mouth. It’s especially true when the fighter has just experienced a tough loss and had his brains rattled.

The post-fight interview often times provide good theater, but sometimes you have to wonder if the interviewer is being fair to the one who is being put on the spot? With these post-fight interviews, fans are generally looking for insight into what the fighter thinks just happened in the squared circle. Was the fighter surprised by what the opponent did, or how good was the fighter on this particular night? Was the opponent more skilled, or faster than anticipated, such as when David Diaz tried to explain how he couldn’t cope with the speed of the Pacman. He admitted getting his clock cleaned and when acknowledging it, he slipped in a few @#*^!’s, but again it was to be expected considering the circumstances..

Unfortunately there are times when a fighter hasn’t ever experienced defeat, and just doesn’t know how to deal with it. Remember how HBO’s Max Kellerman jumped all over Vicious Victor Ortiz’ post-fight comment. The young fighter, who up to that point had been undefeated, complained about not deserving the beating he got? Victor has since proved what he expressed at that moment was nothing more than emotional disappointment experienced for the first time by an exuberant whippersnapper. He deserved a little more latitude than Max gave him.

Is the same true of JuanMa? Well, that’s tough to say, because what Victor expressed pertained to just himself and his reactions. What JuanMa said was targeted at the referee and his son. However, the question remains, is what he said serious enough to warrant a one year suspension?

JuanMa has issued an apology in the form of an e-mail, but Referee Robert Ramirez, Sr. (and probably his son) doesn’t feel the apology is personal enough, and he expects JuanMa to do more. Ramirez has elaborated on the specifics he feels are needed. Obviously, the WBO agrees the e-mail apology doesn’t suffice, because they imposed the suspension.

Before things get better, they actually could get worse. Who knows what father and son Ramirez have in mind from a civil standpoint? Fans know it’s not a good idea to throw around allegations, and not expect repercussions. For example, there is the pending lawsuit of Manny’s against the Mayweathers. But, that’s a different kettle of fish.

In this situation, interviewer Jim Gray was hoping to have a tough fighter, who just had his synapses snapped around like a rubber band, conjure up something coherent. Thankfully for most fighters who babble through these moments, they keep their outrageous remarks confined to some unrealistic, but harmless, modern tale of “I was robbed!” Yeah right, fans say. But, they aren’t surprised at all by such remarks. It’s almost expected after a fighter has done his version of the chicken dance..

JuanMa’s difficulty comes with the fact that he was specific about who did the “robbing”. Showtime’s Jim Gray could have ignored JuanMa’s reference to gambling and turned the interview a different way. However, it obvious he feels it’s his responsibility to seize on such a faux pax. Consequently, he got JuanMa to repeat his allegation. A fighter can get away with disgruntled opinions such as, “He (ref) wouldn’t let me fight my fight.” Or, it might be the opposite, “The ref never warned my opponent (for the fouls he committed)”.

Obviously what JuanMa did went much further. Hence, there’s no argument about the seriousness of what JuanMa said, and worse yet implied. But, the fact remains, he couldn’t possibly have been in his right mind, not after the vicious punches he took. Watch the replay and then try and convince yourself there weren’t a few short-circuits happening. It’s very doubtful he was capable of thinking straight. At moments like that, a fighter needs help from his own people. They need to try and keep him from putting the proverbial foot in mouth. Maybe Showtime, HBO and ESPN, the people controlling things, need to have some kind of fail-safe time delay in place? It’s for certain they should avoid any hint of entrapment.

It’s too late for JuanMa, the damage has been done. However, does the punishment suit the offense? Is this on par with a fighter throwing a stool or choking a ref? One is a physical assault, whereas JuanMa’s is a verbal one, yet there’s no argument both are equally disturbing. But, maybe the picture should be enlarged a bit, and a second look should be made concerning how JuanMa has handled himself in the past, and whether there have been any previous offenses? In the meantime, JuanMa’s people ought to be encouraging him to do everything in his power to comply with the Ramirez's’ and WBO’s requests, and leave no doubt about the validity and sincerity of his repentance. Then maybe a little absolution is in order and a lessening of his punishment?

Article posted on 14.03.2012

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