Those fans who saw his last two fights will not be happy, but reports from Puerto Rico say Juan Manuel Lopez will return to action in October. The former WBO super-bantamweight and featherweight champion was badly beaten by Francisco Vargas in a 130-pound fight in July of 2014 and then, in September of 2014, “Juanma” was brutally knocked out by Jesus Marcelo Andres Cuellar in a fight that contested the interim WBA belt down at featherweight.
Lopez seemed to have seen sense and announced his retirement after the highlight reel KO loss to Cuellar, but now he is set to return once more. Now aged 33 and sporting a 34-5(31) with all five losses coming via stoppage, the southpaw slugger will reportedly face countryman Wilfredo Vazquez Junior in Puerto Rico on October 8. Vazquez, a year younger than Lopez and 24-6-1(19) has also seen better days, winning just one of his last four outings. A former WBO super-bantamweight champ like Lopez, Vazquez has not been nastily KO’d the way his rival has, but he was out-pointed in three of his last fights, albeit in split decisions.
Apparently these two have a genuine dislike for one another and there has been talk of a fight between the two for some years. Now, when both are past their best – Lopez alarmingly so as far as his punch resistance looked in his last two bouts – the fight is on the verge of happening. The fight will take place at a catch-weight of 129-pounds. Who will win? Who knows. Lopez is risking his health by fighting on, while with Vazquez, we just don’t know what kind of shape he is in.
Back in the day, both men were very good fighters who gave us some great action fights. Lopez looked like a future superstar when he burst onto the world stage with a one-round stoppage win over Daniel Ponce De Leon. Vazquez followed in his world champion father’s shoes and engaged in great fights with the likes of Jorge Arce and Nonito Donaire. Unfortunately, after the loss to Donaire it was pretty much all downhill for Vazquez. Lopez’ career never fully recovered after those two heavy defeats at the hands of Orlando Salido.
Vazquez, who has looked sturdier in his recent fights in comparison to Lopez, should win this fight; either by mid-rounds stoppage or via wide decision. Hopefully neither fighter will get hurt in this, a fight that looks wholly unnecessary.