The Long Road back to Castillo Continues for Lazcano this November

31.10.05 – By John Way: Following his impressive win over Marco Angel Perez this summer, Juan “The Hispanic Causing Panic” Lazcano is set to battle fringe contender Courtney Burton two weeks from now. Juan is known throughout the boxing community for both his murderous punching power and innate killer instinct; twin aspects that have managed to make him one of the most feared lightweights in the world.

Turning pro in his native Mexico, Lazcano reeled off the obligatory series of easy knockouts against low quality opposition to start off his career. When he finally stepped up in class, it was against former world champion, Jesse James Leija, who had fought everyone from Oscar De La Hoya, to Shane Mosely during his lengthy career. Known for being a brilliant ring general, Leija was frequently able to make his larger opponent miss, while stepping inside with counter punches of his own. Struggling every step of the way, Lazcano barely ground out a split decision in a fight that many ringsiders thought Leija should have won. His dubious win over “The Texas Tornado” was followed by more inconsequential victories, before Lazcano faced another former champion, this time in the form of rock hard Puerto Rican brawler, John John Molina. Known for his ability to absorb punishment to the extreme, Molina was run over with relative ease by Lazcano, who never gave his opponent a chance to get going, ending the fight in eleven bloody rounds. After the win over Molina, Lazcano knocked out Julio Alvarez in four sensational rounds on Showtime for the entire world to see, further adding to his blossoming following..

With his reputation enhanced, Lazcano began to enter in on the world championships scene in earnest. Then, on September 13 2003, Lazcano shocked the world by stopping legendary defensive tactician, Stevie Johnston in eleven grueling rounds. Johnston, a counter-puncher in the mold of Bernard Hopkins and Hector Camacho, was a two-time champion at lightweight, and considered one of the trickiest fighters of his generation.

Capable of making men like Sharmba Mitchell and Cesar Bazan miss by a mile, southpaw Johnston was a great, albeit aging veteran angling for another title shot before calling it a day. However, Lazcano seemed to have improved 300% from his fight with Leija, and floored “Little but Bad” in the 1st, 10th, and 11th rounds before referee Kenny Bayless mercifully stopped the slaughter. Except for a quick knockdown in the second round, Lazcano seemed nearly impervious to his opponent’s firepower though out the fight, while his own punches seemed to carry serious weight.

Following his decisive win over Johnston, Lazcano was made the WBC mandatory challenger, and when champion Floyd Mayweather opted to move to 140lbs, Juan was set to battle #2 contender, Jose Luis Castillo for the vacated laurels. Earlier in his career, Castillo had scored a wafer thin decision victory over Johnston, and was held to a controversial draw in the rematch, seemingly giving the edge to Lazcano, who was much more convincing in beating the Denver based slickster. Still recovering from twin loses to Mayweather, two years previous, Castillo was seen as a decided underdog by most observers going into the contest, but was giving a good chance to spring the upset thanks to his rock solid jaw and remarkable strength.

Criticized earlier in his career for being one-dimensional, Lazcano showed another side of himself by boxing behind an educated left jab during the early rounds to build a slight lead. Then, as always, Castillo began chugging along in his slow, deliberate fashion, marching straight through Lazcano’s much-vaunted power shots to fire his own bombs as the two proud Mexicans exchanged more leather than a Greenwich Village store clerk on the day after Christmas. By the late rounds, with his opponent settled into high gear, “The Hispanic Causing Panic” began to fade desperately, ultimately dropping the unanimous nod by respectable scores of 117-111 116-112 and an overgenerous 115-113 tally.

After an extended layoff, Lazcano finally returned to the ring with a first round demolition job against veteran Marco Angel Perez, who is a consummate professional, even if he does have FRAGILE written all over his whiskers.

Up next for Lazcano is hard hitting albeit shopworn Michigan native, Courtney Burton. Born in Benton Harbor (the site of Dempsey versus Miske III) Burton is largely remembered by fans for his crowd-pleasing brawls with Julio Diaz and Ebo Elder-both of which were fight of the year candidates. Prior to his loss against future champion Diaz, Burton made a name for himself by ending the remarkable career of junior lightweight legend, Gabriel Ruelas, and later by beating the tar out of Angel Manfredy. Along the way, Burton also scored wins over Francisco Lorenzo and Tomas Barrientes.

In the wake of his thrilling battle with Diaz, Burton seemed to lose some of his talent, even requiring a dash of Michigan magic to get by journeyman Emmanuel Augustus in a controversial fight which Burton was exceedingly lucky to win. Taking some much needed R&R, Burton returned to the ring later that year, and matched Ebo Elder punch for punch, before succumbing to a savage last-round assault by the “Extreme Machine”. Following a one sided knockout loss to Rolando Reyes late this summer, Burton seems to be ripe for the picking, making him a smart opponent choice by Team Lazcano.

Assuming that all goes smoothly with Burton, look for Lazcano to rematch Castillo sometime in early 2006 in a Showtime headliner. Even if he doesn’t get another swing at his old nemesis, other potentially lucrative fights against Juan Diaz, Diego Corrales, or Zahir Raheem are in within reach for “The Hispanic Causing Panic”. Look for Lazcano to live up to his moniker, and cause Burton some serious anxiety in their lightweight fight on the 11th of November. Comments or questions are welcome below.