Juanma Lopez Challenges Mikey Garcia

By Robert Ecksel on June 12, 2013
Juanma Lopez Challenges Mikey Garcia
Controlling the fight is what boxing is all about and Garcia does it as well as anyone.

Boxing’s sentencing guidelines have all the flexibility of a contortionist at the Cirque du Soleil. But Juanma doesn’t see it that way…

On Saturday, June 15, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, WBO featherweight champion Mikey Garcia (31-0, 26 KOs) defends his title against former two-division champion Juan Manuel Lopez (33-2, 30 KOs).

Although their records are similar, Garcia and Lopez are on different trajectories. The former is on the rise. The latter is not. Serving an old champ to a new champ is not news and is part of the equation.

If it can happen to Joe Louis, it can happen to anyone.

Many have asked, “Can Juanma Lopez defeat Mikey Garcia?” That’s a fine question, but as substantial as the foam on a mug of cold beer. Those who want to beat the drum loudly for Saturday’s bout are free to do as they choose, but they should make sure they’re beating a drum and not their skull with a wooden stick.

The two fighters recently met with the press to discuss Saturday’s bout. The 25-year-old Garcia is the complete package. He is composed. He is strong. He is fast. He is accurate. He’s a textbook fighter who boxes like a dream.

The 29-year-old Lopez, by contrast, has been living a nightmare, especially during the last two years. He had marital difficulties, but he also had martial difficulties, specifically his losses to Orlando Salido in 2011 and 2012.

Fighters lose and there’s no crime in losing to a fighter like Salido. But Juanma’s remarks after the second defeat, which sound no worse now than they sounded at the time, led to his being suspended for almost a year.

Whether the time fit the crime is open to debate. We take character assassination seriously, even more seriously than we take actual assassination. But Lopez’s penalty, however stiff on its face, is no worse than if he had smoked marijuana or gotten caught using PEDs.

Boxing’s sentencing guidelines have all the flexibility of a contortionist at the Cirque du Soleil.

But Juanma doesn’t see it that way.

“Ever since I started boxing professionally, I have had one fight after another with a lot of tough fights mixed in there,” he said, “and I never took any time off. So it was good, even though I didn’t want it that way. But there is a silver lining in everything. It was good for my body. Now I have come back and I feel good.”

It’s good that Lopez is back and feeling good. Since his suspension he has won two fights against middling competition. But those losses to Salido, the same Salido Garcia crushed in New York to win the title, cannot be ignored.

“It is a matter of styles,” explained Juanma. “Salido and I love to go at it, have a war.  Mikey is more of a counterpuncher. Either way, it’s a great fight and I congratulate him for that win. Different fighters and different styles—anything can happen and anyone can win. There is no way to tell from one fight to the next who will win. I feel good about it. I think Salido was pretty beat up when he faced Garcia and I think Salido was fresher when I got him.”

Mikey Garcia concurs.

“I also agree with Juanma that the styles are different and I fight different than Salido does. I am preparing myself differently for this fight because I am fighting Juanma. It is going to be a different fight. You can’t jump to conclusions. We’ll just have to see what the fight dictates and how it unfolds. I don’t have thoughts that the way I beat Salido I’d be able to walk through Salido. It doesn’t work that way. It is a different fight, a different opponent and I have to prepare differently.”

Lopez believes that Salido was damaged goods by the time Garcia fought him.

“After he fought me, in the fights he had afterwards, he had a lot of trouble,” Juanma said. “He was knocked down by Yamaguchi. I think he was beat up by me. That may be wrong for me to say, but I know he wasn’t as fresh when he fought Mikey as when he was fighting me.”

Garcia was listening to Lopez, but he wasn’t buying what Lopez was selling.

“When Juanma fought him, Salido was a guy that had fought a lot of great fighters, a lot of wars before he ever fought Juanma. He already had experience at the championship level. I thought I fought a really good Orlando Salido. I never let him have his fight. I never let him get into his fight. I knew what I needed to do against him and I think that was the difference. I was able to control the fight.”

Controlling the fight is what boxing is all about and Garcia does it as well as anyone.

“Mikey Garcia is a more technical fighter than Salido,” Lopez said. “Mikey does what you are supposed to do in the ring. He throws the right and he throws the left. He doesn’t go wild in there. He is a very smart guy. He is not going to throw punches if they are not there. I think that helps me. I will know what he is trying to do and I know he is a thinking guy in the ring and that’s what he is going to try and do—outthink me. That is going to be a lot different than a guy coming at me throwing punches from all angles.”

It will be different, but the result will likely be the same.

“I have prepared with my brother and my dad for many scenarios,” Garcia said. “We got different sparring partners, in case I need to put pressure on Juanma or if he decides to move and box a little bit more. I’ll be ready for each. Trade punches—I’ll be ready for that because we trained for it all already. If I feel that Juanma is strong and dangerous and he can hurt me and the best thing for me would be to move—side-to-side steps and stay on the outside—then I’ll do that. I’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

Mikey Garcia vs. Juan Manuel Lopez will be televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark this Saturday at 10:45 pm ET/PT. The telecast will open with a 10-round bout between Terence Crawford and Alejandro Sanabria Jr. for the vacant NABO lightweight title.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Boxing After Dark: Garcia vs. Lopez Preview

Mikey Garcia Inside the Ring (HBO Boxing)

2012-03-10 Mikey Garcia vs Bernabe Concepcion (full fight)

2012-03-10 Orlando Salido vs Juan Manuel Lopez II (full fight)

Mikey Garcia vs Jonathan Barros

Mikey Garcia Vs Juan Manuel Lopez Press Conference

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  1. Pete The Sneak 10:04am, 06/13/2013

    I’ll certainly watch just to see what (if anything) JuanMa has left after his devastating and brutal loss(es) to Orlando Salido. Mikey definitely has skills and can flat out swat. JuanMa shoud try to get to Garcia early and often if he wants to have a chance in this one. But then again, that effort will in all probability result in Garcia Kayoing JuanMa by early fifth round. Peace.

  2. bk don 02:58pm, 06/12/2013

    I don’t know if there was a demand for this fight, but I’m having a hard time getting excited about it. I just don’t see how Juan Ma wins or even goes 12 rds. I agree Mike, Garcia is def one of the best technical fighters around and he seemly has no flaws. What weakness can Juan Ma take advantage of? I just hope that for however long the fight last it’s at least somewhat entertaining.

  3. Mike Schmidt 01:06pm, 06/12/2013

    One of the better technical fighters around against a guy that squares up as a southpaw and will lose his cool under fire-yep gotta go with the bull Ted on this one. Juan Ma “has a puncher’s chance” which is a polite way of saying he is in for a huge shitnameeeeee unless he gets lucky and Mikey does not in his disciplined approach leave much in the luck department.

  4. Ted 12:54pm, 06/12/2013

    Garcia by early KO. Easy fight to pick. Lopez has glass jaw. Garcia has anvil hand.

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