It was an extremely busy weekend of fight action, topped of course by the slow-burning heavyweight explosion that was Deontay Wilder Vs. Luis Ortiz. And last night in Puerto Rico, countrymen Jayson Velez and Juan Manuel Lopez slugged it out in a super-featherweight battle.
“Juanma,” the popular and incredibly gutsy former WBO super-bantam and featherweight ruler, was stopped in the 12th and final round by Velez, who improved to 26-4-1(18) with the bloody win. Lopez, who was cut in the early going of the slugfest that was largely dominated by the five years younger Velez, falls to 35-6(32) and he has surely reached the end of his thrilling, roller-coaster of a career.
The 34 year old who really should have called it quits after his nasty second-round stoppage loss to Jesus Cuellar back in September of 2014, instead came back in October of 2016, winning a grudge-match against Wilfredo Vazquez Junior. But now, having taken so much punishment over his long career (Juanma a pro since 2005), it’s clear the power-punching southpaw has nothing much left other than his incredible heart and bravery.
Velez, who picked up the WBC international strap at 130, started fast and strong and soon he was catching the older, slower man with head shots; one of which opened a bad cut above Lopez’ eye. Lopez was game, as he always is, and he won the odd round, but it was always Velez who was in charge. Lopez looked to be on his way to surviving to hear the final bell, but instead, after having his cut inspected by the doctor in round-12, Lopez was heavily decked by a right hand.
Once again showing immense courage, Lopez beat the count but was soon under more heavy fire. Stuck on the ropes taking shots, Juanma was all done and the referee called it. Time was 1:54 of round-12.
There will be no need for a return fight between the two, nor should Lopez fight anyone else, ever again. As for Velez, who knows where he goes from here.