JuanMa Puts His Cards on the Table

By Robert Ecksel on March 11, 2012
JuanMa Puts His Cards on the Table
After being punched in the head repeatedly, fighters sometimes say things they later regret

Congratulations to Salido for fighting a great fight. Congratulations, with an extra helping of forgiveness, to JuanMa as well…

“There is a resentment between Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, the reason being that Puerto Ricans talk too much.”—Julio Cesar Chavez

Juan Manuel Lopez fought valiantly against Orlando Salido last night at Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Admittedly still groggy after suffering a brutal TKO in round 10, JuanMa almost blew it with his post-fight remarks.

Accepting a loss is never easy. We seem hardwired to make excuses when it serves our purposes. And when that wiring is frayed, as can happen after being punched in the head hundreds of times, fighters sometimes say things they later regret.

A dejected and scrambled JuanMa, without encouragement from the always encouraging Jim Gray, said, “I was winning the fight. It was a tough fight, but I felt I was dominating the fight,” a conclusion two of the three judges, who presumably were not dejected and whose minds were not scrambled, also reached.

If Lopez had left it there everyone would have understood. But he didn’t leave it there. He had more to say.

“The referee stopped the fight. The other fight,” referring to his first loss to Salido,” his son stopped it. And now he stopped it. The referee stopped the fight because they have gambling problems. I told the commission that the referee was a gambler. It was very irresponsible for the commission to put him in as a referee. He has a gambling problem.”

I don’t know referee Roberto Ramirez Sr., but I do know physiognomy, and if there was ever a face straight out of Central Casting it was Ramirez’s. That’s not to say he does or does not have a gambling problem. Who knows what he does in his spare time? But JuanMa would have been wise to leave it alone.

Jim Gray, who was conducting the interview, was less hostile than usual. Words on a page don’t adequately convey tone, but he seemed more concerned than his pit-bull persona would indicate.

“Wait a minute,” he said. “You think that a gambling problem was the difference in this fight, even though you were being power-punched more than 2 to 1?”

“I was winning the fight,” repeated JuanMa. “I was dominating. I was conscious of what he was saying. I could still continue to fight. I could see the hard punches. I could still fight.”

No one questions Lopez’s willingness to fight. His choice of words is another story. But having had a day to reflect on his remarks, JuanMa gratefully changed his tune.

“For my part I apologize to Roberto for comments I had made after the fight with Salido. Roberto is one of the best referees in the world, he did a great job, and I appreciate that I was protected because I was definitely hurt. Everyone knows how much I trained for this fight, all of the sacrifices that I made, because I wanted to give a big win to Puerto Rico.

“I also want to give credit to Orlando Salido for his victory and thank him for coming to my country to give me a rematch. It was a great fight, everyone could see that, and I want to thank the people of Puerto Rico for all the support they gave me at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente, and to all those who saw the fight on television. Please know that I still have things to do in boxing and soon we’ll be back to put the name of Puerto Rico up again.”

Congratulations to Salido for fighting a great fight. Congratulations, with an extra helping of forgiveness, to JuanMa as well.

What goes around comes around

Roberto Ramirez Sr. isn’t buying it. He heard JuanMa’s apology and it’s not even close to being enough to salve his wounded pride. It could be a male thing. It could be a Latin thing. But whatever it is, Ramirez won’t accept it.

“Excuses only satisfy those who say them,” he said. “I heard the words of JuanMa and the arrogance with which he massacred my honesty. I have already 184 world title fights and this is the first time a person puts into question my honesty and my integrity. I’m very upset…to say that I gamble is attacking my integrity and my family.”

Ramirez should know what’s it’s like to get hit in the head. Having refereed 184 world title fights, he must have learned something about winning and losing, something about fighters and the fights.

It wasn’t as if Lopez questioned the morals of Ramirez’s mother. Now those would be fighting words. He was searching for the reason he got his ass kicked and was grasping at straws. It’s a pity he grabbed hold of the Ramirez straw. Just as it’s a pity Ramirez won’t let this go.

Why can’t we all just get along?

The show, or perhaps the sideshow, must go on. The latest turn of the screw involves Nelson Vazquez, president of the Association of Professional Boxing Officials. The APBO plans on filing a formal complaint concerning JuanMa’s post-fight remarks with the Professional Boxing Commission of Puerto Rico.

“We will file a complaint with the Commission,” said Vazquez, “to investigate the statements by JuanMa Lopez, which were defamatory and disgusting. Roberto Ramirez is a serious and honest man. The statement was totally frivolous.”

Vazquez, a retired police inspector turned boxing official, is the kind of tough hombre who doesn’t take kindly to slurs and innuendo.

“We are not satisfied. The statements were made and circulated around the world. All of the boxing fans worldwide are aware of this. They are bad losers and we must put an end to these types of situations. It is the second time [Lopez made] unfounded and and frivolous statements, with no evidence, against those distinguished officers of boxing.”

I love the smell of discipline in the morning.

Now it’s the WBO’s turn

The boxing establishment must have lost its mind. Instead of giving JuanMa a medal for valor and heroism in the face of enemy fire, they’re piling on like hyperactive kids hopped up on Fruit Loops.

WBO President Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel, acting as though he was the one that was dissed, and the Executive Committee of the WBO pushed through a resolution where Lopez must “show cause as to why he should not be suspended for one year from appearing in the WBO ratings or fighting for any regional or global title of the WBO.”

With all the nonsense that goes down in boxing, not least of which are judges whose heads are where the sun don’t shine, going after JuanMa seems less like justice as its most foolhardy than some kind of cover-up.

How long will it be before people start denying with a straight face that there’s no connection between boxing and gambling? That won’t fly when the majority of major fights in the U.S. are held in CASINOS. But I guess there’s no harm in trying.

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Orlando Salido vs Juan Manuel Lopez II - Round 10 & Post-Fight

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  1. Luis 07:59am, 03/15/2012

    The one thing I have to say is that the translators ARE HORRIBLE. They all leave out a lot during translation that can change the message. In this case the one glaring omission was that Juanma said, “I’ve seen this guy gamble…he’s from my town and he has a gambling problem…I told the commission about this before the fight and it’s very irresponsible of them to have let him ref this fight. I’m going to complain to the commission.” So to me, this is a case of the commission just steam-rolling over him because they can and so that they don’t look bad and it was HORRIBLE HORRIBLE translation. Why? Because Jim Gray could have followed up with questions that could have cast doubt on the ref if indeed Junama was telling the truth. HORRIBLE TRANSLATORS AND BAD JUDGES ARE RUINING BOXING :)

  2. Don from Prov 11:24am, 03/14/2012

    Bodyshots—exactly right on all counts.
    Some good posts on this thread!
    You nailed the truth too Irish Frankie.

  3. Bodyshots 10:58am, 03/13/2012

    BK DON, I agree. only Ramirez is personally qualified to rate the severity of Lopez’s offense. his entire career is based on the integrity of his ethics and professional character, which Lopez attempted to torpedo before an international audience. while Ramirez simmers, Lopez should take a break, make amends, and plan his next step, which should be a rematch v. Ponce de Leon. Salido, Gamboa, Donaire, even Mikey Garcia are now in another competitive bracket where Lopez only risks being KTFO once again.

  4. maycel13 06:40am, 03/13/2012


  5. Bk Don 01:38pm, 03/12/2012

    The WBO-gus organization needs to sit down. Their input isn’t needed in this situation, unless they want ban those inept or corrupt judges from ever participating in a who sanctioned bout. Lopez’s apology should be enough to satisfy those who are heaping criticism on him. I do wonder if the “gambling” issue was ever mentioned among the JuanMa’s camp, or did he just pull that out of thin air? The ref has a right to be offended, his name was slandered multiple times.

  6. Bk Don 01:34pm, 03/12/2012

    I agree w/bodyshots. The only “crime” that happened Saturday was the god awful scorecards those incompetent judges handed in. I don’t think Juan Ma’s mom could’ve scored the fight for him. The man barely won 3 rounds and was brutalized in a number of them. To have have him leading that fight is worst then a smack in the face to Salido for the hardwork he put in Sat night. If he had lost this bout on the scorecards that would’ve been beyond a disgrace.

  7. Bodyshots 10:35am, 03/12/2012

    never mind the harsh words between Lopez and Ramirez, something should be done about those handpicked, corrupted, and/or just plain incompetent judges. it’s a situation that Salido accounted for by going in with a mandatory KO-seeking fight-plan but the judges subsequent scoring of the fight till that point is downright suspect, at best. it was a robbery in progress. consquently, the outrage regarding Lopez’s concussion-induced, post-bout rant is misdirected. something needs to be done about these scoring for hire judging panels. that’s what’s ruining boxing not a bitter exchange of words between a responsible ref and a sore loser.

  8. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 10:34am, 03/12/2012

    Don from Prov-You got that right! HBO team is just as bad….calling shots that don’t land…..missing telling blows….not being able able to distinguish between punches that land with full impact and glancing, partially blocked punches. All the while right at the ring apron and unable to recognize effective punching and its effect on the fighters.

  9. Don from Prov 06:02am, 03/12/2012

    I’m glad that Lopez eventually talked sense.

    I appreciate the read that Pete the Sneak gives to the ref and the apology offered.  In the end, I also hope that he accepts it.

    P.S.  That 9th round = brutal and while the Showtime team were focussed on Salido’s swelling and seemed to maybe be trying to set the stage for a Lopez comeback in the 10th, I’d seen—for just a moment how he slumped into his corner at the end of the 9th and was (as many fans do?  I hope so anyway) talking to my television screen and telling it? me? my sweetie who was half-watching with me? that no, the story was that Mr. Lopez was ready to go.

  10. Pete The Sneak 05:20am, 03/12/2012

    It was a great stoppage by Ramirez. Juanma was done, the Ref knew it and even the fans at the Coliseo knew it. He prevented Juanma from suffering some serious damage, considering all the shots he had already taken from the tough, gutsy heart filled champ Orlando Salido. I too was puzzled by Juanma’s comments, but like the article says, I’ll just chalk it up to the scrambling Junama’s brain absorbed. Still, I can’t blame Ramirez for being slow to accept Juanma’s apology. That was a real cheap shot taken on a world wide stage where you pretty much questioned the integrity of both Roberto Sr, his son as well as his family. In Puerto Rico, this will make headlines for more than a week and with Roberto being a native of the Island, he’s going to have to be scrutinized daily regardless of Juanma’s taking it back. I hope Roberto does eventually accept Juanma’s apology, but take my word for it, it will not be happening anytime soon. Peace.

  11. Robert Ecksel 05:03pm, 03/11/2012

    I agree. Ramirez did right by JuanMa. He also did right by boxing.

  12. the thresher 04:52pm, 03/11/2012

    By stopping the fight, the ref saved JML’s life.

    He would have presented an open target for Salido to crunch.

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