November 07, 2010
LAS VEGAS _ Juan Manuel Lopez's skill set is off the charts, but it was his intangibles - guts and smarts - that carried him to the biggest win of his career tonight over Rafael Marquez.
Lopez survived a scary fourth round, where he was nearly taken out by a Marquez left hook. That's when he decided to switch his approach and impose his will on the smaller Marquez by using his power/size advantage inside.
At the end of the eighth, Marquez said he couldn't continue because of an injured shoulder. Lopez remains unbeaten with an eighth round TKO in front of 4,818 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
"That's going to happen in a fight," Lopez said of the big punch that Marquez landed in the fourth round. "You get hit, he gets hit. He has tremendous power. He's a world champion. You get to him and he's going to come right back after you."
The corner had no choice but to stop the fight. Marquez said he'd
injured his right shoulder in the third round and after eight, he told his trainers three times that he couldn't lift his arm. Marquez didn't attend the postfight press conference because the
Nevada State Athletic Commission made him visit a local hospital to have
the shoulder examined. His promoter Gary Shaw was proud of the effort.
"(Marquez) is a great champion but he was beaten by a better fighter in the ring tonight," Shaw said. "There are no other excuses. We knew we had a shoulder problem coming into the fight, but it’s not an excuse. Juan Manuel Lopez is an explosive fighter."
Lopez (30-0, 27 KOs) was brilliant in the first three rounds. He landed his left hook with regularity and countered beautifully. Lopez outlanded Marquez 226-141 and 205 of those JuanMa shots were power punches.
In the fourth, Lopez got a little too brave. With about a minute left in the round, Marquez caught him with a huge left hook. Lopez was on queer street. His legs were very shaky but he kept throwing back and didn't go down even after Marquez landed two huge rights and another nasty left.
"(I was) shocked," Shaw said. "Everyone said Juan Manuel didn’t have a chin — that he went down against this guy and that guy. I know one thing; the Juan Manuel that showed up tonight had one hell of a chin."
Lopez also caught a break when referee Tony Weeks stopped the action with 27 seconds left. The ref took a point away from Lopez because he was pushing down on his opponent's head. Marquez's corner was livid. That 30-second rest allowed Lopez to gather himself and get through the round.
Early in the fifth, Lopez decided to make it a fight waged in a phone booth. Marquez (39-6, 35 KOs) kept plowing his head into Lopez's chest, so the Puerto Rican unleashed some nasty uppercuts. They were the perfect weapon. His work inside during rounds five, six and seven gassed Marquez.
The wild fourth round kept Marquez alive on the scorecards. The Yahoo! boxing blog had it 78-73 for Lopez. The judges had 77-74, 78-73 and 77-73 for Lopez.
Bob Arum plans to have JuanMa fight in Puerto Rico in early 2011 and then target Yuriorkis Gamboa for a fight during the summer.