Former two-weight world champ Juan Manuel Lopez showed over the weekend that when he is matched a certain way, he can still fight and he can still win. The 33-year-old southpaw went to war with his bitter rival Wilfredo Vazquez Jnr this past Saturday in an intense, all-Puerto Rican grudge-match, and he won via exciting 11th-round KO. Juanma was out-boxed in the early going of the fight but his power and sheer determination got him the win in the end.
And then, in some of the wildest scenes ever recorded in a Puerto Rican boxing ring, Lopez attacked and traded punches with one of Vazquez’ corner-men. Actually, though he had won the sanctioned and legalized fight of the night, Lopez came off worse for wear in the short, totally unexpected and shocking rumble with the trainer! Lopez certainly proved he has still got plenty of fire, if nothing else. The question now is, what next for the former WBO featherweight/super-featherweight king?
If he does not get into trouble for the brawl, which he initiated, at least from a physical standpoint (Juanma may have been goaded by some verbal taunts thrown by the corner-man), Lopez will almost certainly fight on – fighting really does seem to be all Lopez, 35-5(32) knows. Perhaps worryingly for a fighter who has suffered as many nasty KO defeats as Lopez has (before Saturday he had lost three of his four bouts, all losses by KO) is the fact that Lopez said after the win over Vazquez how he would like to fight either Abner Mares or Orlando Salido next.
Lopez would enter either fight as a considerable underdog. It was of course Mexican warrior Salido who ended Lopez’s unbeaten run back in 2011. Salido, a big underdog himself at the time, stopped Lopez in a thrilling fight and he then repeated the victory in another action fight the following year. A third fight between these two veterans would likely sell, especially in either Mexico or Puerto Rico, but Salido seems to have Juanma’s number.
Lopez really has nothing more to prove and he should be enjoying his retirement. Still, Juanma will point to Saturday’s fight and victory as proof that he can still do what he wants to do. People who care about Lopez will be dreading the next KO defeat the former champ suffers though.