By: Rich Neary (SBB)
In what is really the first big fight of 2010 undefeated boxer, puncher “Juanma” Juan Manuel Lopez, 27-0, 24Ko’s will be stepping in weight from super bantamweight to featherweight January 23rd taking on WBO Featherweight Champion Steven Luevano at the Mecca of Boxing Madison Square Garden.
Lopez, coming in off what some may be calling a hold on win over “The Tiger” Rogers Mtagwa just this past October when “Juanma” had to hold on to pull out a 116-111, 115-111, 114-113 unanimous decision after “The Tiger” gave Lopez a one sided beating in what appeared a lopsided 10-8 final round.
Moving up in weight is a regular thing in boxing now. Sometimes it’s a belt or just the attracytion of a big money fight but sometimes it’s a close decision that prompts the move. With making weight becoming a bigger part of lopez training “Juanama” appeared to be well conditioned in his fight with Mtagwa in October but he appeared to lose his punch leaving him unable to keep the desperate “Tiger” from reaching his prey.
Having struggled to make weight for that fight team Lopez has “Juanama” moving up to feather weight and in true championship fashion he is wasting no time taking on veteran southpaw Steven Luevano, 37-1-1, 15Ko’s. Like so many previous champions stepping up in weight they take a feel out bout but Lopez is taking on a certified proven fighter who has wins over Terdsak Jandaeng, Antonio Davis, Nicky Cook and Billy Dib.
Luevano is a slick defensive sharp shooter who may be missing the big shot but has been in with top class fighters suffering his only loss a very close decision to Martin Honorio, November 2005 after dropping the tough Mexican in the second round.
Lopez true test here is to find out if the weakness he experienced in the closing round against Mtagwa was from battling the weight or has the undefeated champion found his limit.
Luevano a natural featherweight is a defensive but effective counter puncher who comes in with a durable chin never being stopped in thirty nine fights. Lueveno should prove to be the right test for the young Puerto Rican star testing not only “Juanma’s” boxing skills but whether he can he carry his punch to the next level.
A win over Luevano especially if it should come by stoppage should open many possible exciting big fights. Not only the obvious bout with Gamboa should the young Cuban star get past “The Tiger” in the co-feature but lucrative fights with Cristobal Cruz, Elio Rojas, Daniel Ponce de Leon or Jorge Solis.
A victory over Lueveno and stepping up and taking on anyone of those listed should certainly secure Lopez position in boxing’s rankings best pound for pound.
The full exciting undercard features established fighters and several up and coming local listed below.
Featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa vs Rogers Mtagwa 12rds
Middleweight John Duddy vs Juan Astorga 8rds
Light middleweight Pawel Wolak vs Ishmail Arvin 8rds
Light welterweight Chris Algieri vs James Hope 6rds
Light middleweight Tommy Rainone vs Gerardo Cesar Prieto 6rds
Featherweight Jorge Diaz vs Tommy Atencio 6rds
Cruiserweight Carlos Negron vs Garrett Wilson 6rds
Light heavyweight Will Rosinsky vs Markus Gonzales 6rds