Fringe P4P Fighter - Juan Manuel Lopez
Juan Manuel Lopez aka "JuanMa" is climbing the ranks as fast or faster than any other fighter in boxing. He is big, strong, fast, has a solid chin (however relatively untested) and has serious KO power.
Making a Splash
Lopez turned pro in 2005. His first pro fight, an early KO, continuous to be the theme when JuanMa fights. He would win his first nine fights by knockout. After his first year as a professional he compiled a record of 8–0 with eight knockouts. This eye popping record earned him the Puerto Rico Boxing Commission's recognition for rookie and prospect of the year.
Lopez-Ponce De Leon
In June 2008, at 21-0, Lopez was given the opportunity to fight for his first world championship; the WBO Super Bantamweight title. Lopez didn't break a sweat. Lopez crushed Ponce De Leon, winning by technical knockout in the first round, when the referee stopped the fight after JuanMa put Ponce De Leon down twice in the 1st round.
Defending His Title
Two more title defenses and two more 1st round KO's against Cesar Figueroa and Sergio Medina had people already wondering if anyone could compete. Lopez took a step up in competition when he faced hardened veteran Gerry Penalosa who came in with an impressive 54-6 record and with the moniker that he had never even been hurt let alone knocked down or stopped. JuanMa battered Penalosa for 10 rounds, landing record #s of power shots against a game Penalosa who never gave up. Eventually trainer Freddie Roach stopped the fight to prevent lasting damage to the brave Penalosa. In his most recent defense Lopez was able to stop unbeaten (18-0) Olivier Lonchti inside of 10 rounds.
Juan Manuel Lopez is currently 26-0 with 24 KOs. He is tentatively scheuled to fight at MSG on 10/10 against unheralded Rogers Mtagwa (26-12). Here in lies the reason that JuanMa has not yet reach P4P status in my eyes. His resume does not warrant it. He is still young (26) but until he raises his level of opposition, we will never know how good he truly is (see Victor Ortiz). There has been much talk about a potential fight between Juan Manuel Lopez and the WBA/IBF title holder Celestino Caballero (31-2), currently the #2 ranked super bantamweight behind Lopez. Caballero has called out Lopez many times recently and Lopez has not been quick to respond. If Lopez does decide to step up to the challenge and wins? He instantly become a P4P top 10 fighter. No question.
Thoughts on JuanMa?