Any Excuses Tonight, JuanMa?

By Teron Briggs on March 9, 2012
Any Excuses Tonight, JuanMa?
“I’m very humbled," said JuanMa Lopez, "when people compare me to Felix Trinidad.”

“I wasn’t as focused as I should have been,” said Lopez after suffering his first defeat. “I was not there totally mentally that night…”

Saturday night on Showtime Championship Boxing from Roberto Clemente Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, former champion Juan Manuel “JuanMa” Lopez (31-1, 28 KOs) seeks to exact revenge against WBO featherweight champion Orlando Salido (37-11, 25 KOs). The co-main event features undefeated WBA number one contender Miguel “Mikey” Garcia (27- 0, 23 KOs) against the usually durable Bernabe Concepcion (29-5, 15 KOs).

On April 16 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Salido stunned the thousands of fervent Juan Manuel Lopez fans in attendance when he knocked out the undefeated Puerto Rican star in the eighth round of their fight. Prior to the contest, Salido was viewed as a competent opponent who was capable of making the fight competitive, but didn’t possess the talent to win. JuanMa was three years younger than his foe, had more punching power, and most importantly, had the advantage of fighting at home.

The first few rounds of the contest went as planned, as Lopez’s superior technique and hand speed allowed him to build an early points lead. The tide changed drastically in the fifth round when a huge left hand from the challenger floored the champion. JuanMa had been knocked down before in his career, only to come back to win in thrilling fashion, so this wasn’t a concern for the Lopez fans. That is until the pressure Salido began applying to the 8-1 favorite started to take its toll, with the champ beginning to absorb an alarming amount of punishment. The fight came to a premature end in the eighth round when Salido’s relentless assault finally forced the referee to stop the contest.

Following the loss, instead of giving Salido credit for his upset victory, Lopez, his promoter Bob Arum, and the media came up with excuses to explain it. “I wasn’t as focused as I should have been,” said Lopez. “I was not there totally mentally that night.” Arum went even further by stating, “The distractions did the job.” Arum claimed that Lopez weighed as much as 180 or 190 lbs. just a few months before the fight at 125 lbs. Lopez’s lack of preparation for the bout was believed to have stemmed from a high profile divorce he was embroiled in, which noted boxing writer Kevin Iole claimed “did him in against Salido.” Salido’s people, for their part, didn’t buy into the talk. His manager Sean Gibbons said at the press conference for the rematch, “This fight will show everybody that the first one wasn’t just excuses. JuanMa had a ton of excuses after that fight.”

“I’m very humbled when people compare me to Felix Trinidad”, said Juan Ma in the lead up to his fight with Mexican great, Rafael Marquez. Legendary Puerto Rican superstar Felix “Tito” Trinidad became one of the sport’s biggest attractions due to his fan friendly fighting style and dynamic personality, both of which JuanMa had exhibited. Unfortunately, the other reason why comparisons were drawn is that both displayed vulnerable chins, and were knocked down by lesser opponents. Lopez raced out to a 21–0 record with 19 knockouts, before fighting for his first world championship against Daniel Ponce de Leon (34-1 going in) in June 2006. The fight was billed as an even matchup, with many observers picking the champion to retain his title, but JuanMa abruptly ended things by scoring a sensational first round knockout over an opponent who hadn’t been stopped in 34 career bouts.

Lopez easily handled his next four opponents before facing Rogers Mtagwa (27-12, 18 KOs), in October 2010 at Madison Square Garden. Mtagwa, a heavy underdog in the bout, was a mere seconds away from scoring the Upset of the Year when he badly hurt JuanMa in the 12th round, forcing the champion to run and hold until the final bell. Two fights later, Lopez and Bernabe Concepcion (27-12, 15 KOs) exchanged knockdowns in an exciting contest that lasted a mere two rounds, before a brutal onslaught from the champ finished his opponent. In November 2010, Lopez notched his biggest career win, defeating 35-year-old former champion Rafael Marquez (29-5, 35 KOs). Lopez and Marquez fought at a breakneck pace for eight rounds, with the younger fighter getting the better of the heated exchanges, before Marquez retired on his stool between rounds, citing a shoulder injury.

Orlando Salido’s record of 35 wins and 11 losses doesn’t look impressive, but it should be noted that eight of those losses occurred when he was between the ages of 15 and 21. “I just started because of the money,” says the Mexican champion who entered the professional ranks without ever having an amateur fight. Salido, who grew up in abject poverty and lost his father at an early age, was forced to fend for himself. Prior to the victory over Lopez, his most impressive win was a unanimous decision over IBF champion Robert Guerrero (18-1, 12 KOs) in November 2006, before the bout was ruled a no-contest. The fight was expected to be a toss-up bout between evenly matched fighters. However Salido outhustled and convincingly beat the champion. Immediately following the contest, Salido’s victory was overturned after drug tests revealed he tested positive for Nadrolone. He denied using steroids and took a follow-up test that was negative, but he was still stripped of the title. In three other high profile contests, he had mixed results, earning a TKO victory over Rogers Mtagwa and losing lopsided decisions to all-time great Juan Manuel Marquez (43- 2, 33 KOs) and undefeated Cuban star Yuriorkis Gamboa (21-0, 15 KOs).

JuanMa enters this must-win fight knowing that excuses will not be acceptable this time.

The co-feature matches top contender and prohibitive favorite Mikey Garcia going up against Manny Paquiao managed Bernabe Concepcion. Garcia, rated top three by all of the sanctioning bodies, sports an imposing 85% knockout ratio, having stopped eight of his previous 10 opponents. He has an impressive pedigree, coming from a boxing family (his brother and uncles are all former fighters turned trainers), and he has amassed an impressive amateur record. Concepcion is best known, aside from his superstar manager, for his knockout loss to then-champion Juan Manuel Lopez. He challenged for a title once before that, but was disqualified after he struck his opponent, Steve Luevano (37-1, 15 KOs), after the bell in the seventh round in what had been a close bout at the time. Concepcion should be a slight step up in competition over the previous fighters Garcia has faced.

The fight card is stacked from top to bottom, with Showtime once again broadcasting the undercard bouts at 8:00 pm on Showtime Extreme prior to the two co-main events on Championship Boxing.

(Follow Teron on Twitter@Teronnicholas)

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Showtime Boxing - Salido vs. Lopez II - March 10th on SHOWTIME - Juan Manuel Lopez, Orlando Salido - Boxeo

Juan Manuel Lopez vs Orlando Salido Part 1/2

Juan Manuel Lopez vs Orlando Salido Part 2/2

Recap: Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Orlando Salido - SHOWTIME Boxing - Boxeo - JuanMa

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  1. dr rogelio k. avila 02:15pm, 03/14/2012

    Juanma needs a lot of re-training.

    He must go back to the basics and learn a lot from a good trainer that will teach him head movements, footworks meaning good defense.

    He still thinks he can pull it off using his brute force but it proves to be fatal relying in his killer instinct.

    Salido youre the MAN!

    Juanma be a man (not man of excuses)

  2. Jose Rodriguez 09:21pm, 03/11/2012

    It was a shame the statement that Juanma Lopez make after loosing the fight.  His expressions against Mr. Roberto Ramirez could get him in a lot of legal problems, if Mr. Ramirez decided to take him to court for slander.  In both fights, he was out and could not continued and both, Mr. Ramirez’s son and father stopped the fight appropiated.  Juanma fought like a man but complainted just like a little girl and as long as he continued fighting straight up without waving his upper body and head, he will continued getting KO.  Top Rank and the PR Best Boxing Promotions should let the guy out.  He is finished and a shamed to claimed that he is humbled.  He can never compared himself with the best PR fighters.  He was in the right place at the right time.  However, now a day, anyone can become champion.  I hope that Mr. Ramirez takes some legal action.

  3. bk don 02:33pm, 03/11/2012

    Man. Last night displayed the best and worst of the sport. The best, the throughly engaging battle that Salido and Lopez waged. The 9th rd was obviously 1 of the best rds in recent memory. Both men took some serious punishment yet continued to mount impressive challenges down the stretch. The worst was the horrible officiating. To have lopez ahead at the time of that stoppage is ridiculous. The man at most won 4 rounds, i think he only took 2 or 3. If salido had lost his belt b/c of incompetent judging it would’ve left a sour taste in a lot of people’s mouths.

  4. Rigo hernandez 09:09pm, 03/10/2012

    Heck of fight. Whenever a puerto rican and mexican meet each other it’s bound 2 b a good fight. All i got 2 say is that it’s the end of the era for puerto rican boxing champs.

  5. FrankinDallas 09:45am, 03/10/2012

    I was in PR over New Years and everyone I spoke to about this fight was crushed about the outcome…especially since Salido is Mexican. I asked the locals what was up about the rivalry between the two (Mex and PR) and no one could really give me a logical answer. I guess there is no logic when it comes to boxing fans…..

    Juan Ma better learn sometime between now and 7PM to move his head and to block punches with something other than his chin. Otherwise….it’s adios, amigo.

  6. Bodyshots 03:26pm, 03/09/2012

    Mikey Garcia has displayed a ferocity/killer-instinct deficiency in the past. Shades of Stevie Cruz whose corner was routinely compelled to frantically, desperately, furiously wave him in vs. a hurt opponent including McGuigan who was out on his feet. Hopefully, Mikey doesn’t forget to dust-off Concepcion once he’s got him in trouble, which shouldn’t be difficult. Bernabe is there to be Hit.

  7. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 02:52pm, 03/09/2012

    Great article….just one small thing and it sure`as hell wasn’t a small thing to Juanma…the punch that put him down in the fifth and was really the beginning of the end was Salido’s overhand right, probably the one pictured in the photo that accompanies this interesting report.

  8. the thresher 02:03pm, 03/09/2012

    Nice read Teron. Keep ‘em coming.

  9. Pete The Sneak 01:18pm, 03/09/2012

    Should be fun. I’m psyched. Salido is one tough customer and extremely confident. Goes right back into JuanMa’s backyard once again without any trepidation and excuses. Everything here seems stacked against him. It has the feel of him being more of a challenger this time than champion, more so than he was in the first fight. Let’s Do It. Peace.

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