Juan Manuel ‘JuanMa’ Lopez will make his second trip to the ring in 2013 in the near future. Lopez is an all action fighter whose lack of defense and vulnerability makes him fun to watch. He was to follow in the long line of Puerto Rican fighters and take the mantle of the king of PR boxing from Miguel Cotto. But he has suffered to hard-fought stoppage defeats to the same man Orlando Salido.
Now trying to get back on the horse, his name has been mentioned by many as a potential opponent. There are challenges for Lopez that he still wants to tangle with, one being Yuriorkis Gamboa. The fight that was labeled as being marinated by promoter Bob Arum is one that may have marinated too much but one that JuanMa still wants.
“I’d love to fight Gamboa. The economics were the reason the fight didn’t happen. My money was there but the money wasn’t there for him, maybe not him but his team wanted more. We both want to fight each other but it has to be at 130. I heard he wants to fight at 135 but I’m not going there now,” Lopez told ThaBoxingVoice.com.
Lopez understands why Gamboa wants to fight at 135 and it might be the reason he was dropped by the lesser known Michael Farenas on the Pacquiao-Marquez 4 undercard. “I think when he was at 130; he hydrated 18 lbs, so maybe that’s why they want to jump to 135, maybe it affected him, he’s a guy that relies on his speed and maybe that’s why he didn’t look his best against Farenas, but he’s a star. Donaire Gamboa, Rigondeaux and me are 4 tough fighters. Preparation will be the key but I’m ready for any one of them.”
A fight that many fans alike included Puerto Ricans wanted to see was one with fellow Boricua, Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. It was a fight that probably didn’t happen because of a 2 lb difference. “The fight had a great opportunity to be made but he wanted it at 126, I wanted it at 128, for whatever reason the fight wasn’t made. I told him it was the most he was going to make in his whole career, more than he made versus Donaire or Arce. He didn’t want to take it for a lb.”
Lopez continued by explaining he’s moved on and has no ill feelings towards WV2. “We’re going to move in. He’s a good fighter. I’ve always said that. I don’t like fighting Puerto Ricans but that fight doesn’t do much for my career but it didn’t happen. We came to an agreement on everything but the weight. The wheels of the buses have passed. I don’t have any personal problems with him. He was the one that has been talking a lot. I’m here relaxed just trying to do well in my career. You know you ask the Boricuas who need who more and they’ll say he needs me more than I need him. “
Now that Juanma is trying to campaign above 128 and likely wants to be at 130, it was interesting to get his opinion of one of his former foes, Daniel Ponce De Leon, fighting a star in Abner Mares, moving up from 122 to 126. Lopez feels Ponce De Leon shouldn’t be sold short and actually thinks Mares bit off more than he can chew.
“Ponce De Leon has a very good chance to be Mares. I don’t think Mares is a 126lber. He chose a tough guy to step up to.He lost to me and barely lost to Broner who’s a great fighter right now. But he’s still a strong fighter. If Ponce De Leon was to fight guys like Mikey or the Salido that beat me, it be a crazy fight. To me I think DeLeon wins. I know Mares is going to come forward but I don’t think Mares will be able to take De Leon’s power. But you know we have to see. I didn’t think Mikey Garcia was going to beat Salido so easy.”
While the name Garcia is mentioned as one of Juanma’s next opponent, he has respect for the young champion and is giving a warning to everyone mentioning his name.
“When Mikey fought with Concepcion, I knew and I told him he was going to be a world champion. He’s a great fighter and if the fight happens, it’s going to be a good one. From 126 to 130, my name gets mentioned the most and they want to fight me; well I want to fight all of them too. I’m here, step up. They think I’m vulnerable because of my two losses, but those 2 losses have been to the same man who could probably beat most of the guys out there. Step up!”