The Puerto Rico Professional Boxing Commission is lucky that Juan Manuel Lopez doesn't have a huge mainstream following in the U.S. If he did, the commission would be getting battered after its ridiculously harsh suspension of the former featherweight champion.
Following a 10th round stoppage defeat at the hands of Orlando Salido on March 10, Lopez accused referee Roberto Ramirez Sr. of gambling during an interview with Showtime's Jim Gray.
On Tuesday, the Puerto Rican commission suspended Lopez for a year, fined him $10,000 and ordered him to do community service work. There are men convicted of serious crimes who don't receive such stiff sentences.
Top Rank's Bob Arum, who promotes Lopez, was none too happy about it, calling the move "outrageous." Arum, who said Lopez was diagnosed with a concussion after the hard fight, should not be blamed for his words when he was clearly in the throes of post-match trauma.
"I think it's outrageous what they did to this kid and makes zero sense," Arum said. "You can not and should not punish someone for saying stupid things when they're being interviewed only seconds after they were concussed. It's the commission's fault for allowing him to be interviewed. What were they thinking? It's nuts.
"Legally, he can't be responsible for what he says in that condition. If it was the next morning, or a few days later, after the effects of the concussion had passed, that's one thing. But this is a guy who suffered a serious injury. Look at the NFL and how seriously they treat concussions. These are nothing to [expletive] around with and here, you have the commission trying to suspend a kid for something he said in that condition? Ridiculous."
There has to be more to this story than meets the eye, because while what Lopez said was wrong, it doesn't come close to meriting the kind of punishment he received. He's already apologized twice, but he was treated as if he robbed the biggest bank on the island.
Lopez plans to appeal the suspension, but if it is not overturned, he'll be banned from boxing in the U.S., since other states will recognize the suspension.