The last time he fought, former two-weight champ Juan Manuel Lopez actually fought twice on the same night. “Juanma,” who returned from a two year layoff last October, this inactive spell coming after two straight (and quite nasty) stoppage losses, beat Wilfredo Vazquez Jr – and after the 11th round TKO win, the Puerto Rican got involved in a fracas with one of Vazquez’ corner-men!
Now, his suspension served, the former WBO super-bantamweight and featherweight ruler is set for another fight in his homeland. Lopez, 35-5(32) will face Jayson Velez on September 30th in another all-Puerto Rican showdown of faded former champions. Velez, much the younger man at age 29 (Lopez is 34) is, like Lopez a southpaw, and he has suffered his share of recent defeats. The difference though, is the fact that Velez, 25-4-1(17) has never been stopped, whereas Lopez has been brutally KO’d on numerous occasions.
Indeed, after his heavy defeats at the hands of Mikey Garcia, Francisco Vargas and, most recently, Jesus Andres Cuellar, many people called for Lopez’ retirement. But here the warrior is again, rolling the dice once more. The fight between Lopez and Velez may come down to who has the most left – and that could be one-time top featherweight contender and IBF title challenger Velez
Back in 2014, Velez was unbeaten and challenging Evgeny Gradovich for the IBF 126 pound title, holding the unbeaten champ to a draw. Since then, Velez has gone 3-4 overall, winning his last two. But despite suffering four career losses and being held to the draw, Velez has never been stopped and three of his decision setbacks have been very close affairs.
Last boxing in July of this year – when he stopped a 27-21 fighter – Velez figures to be sharper and less rusty than Lopez, who will be returning after having had almost a full year out. Lopez’ withering power always gives him a shot in any fight (this is possibly one of the reasons he has declined retirement this long, convinced as he is that he is a single punch away from a big victory), but a Velez decision win looks a pretty good bet.