Juan Manuel Lopez seeks boxing stardom
His punching power thrills boxing loyalists, his charisma and Puerto Rican bloodline revive memories of Felix Trinidad, and he's an unbeaten world champion with 26 knockouts in 29 fights.
Now Juan Manuel Lopez needs an attention-grabbing triumph like the one he's capable of achieving Saturday night in Las Vegas against distinguished former two-division world champion Rafael Marquez at MGM Grand.
"It's his first fight on a huge stage against a great boxer, a marquee name," Lopez's promoter, Bob Arum, said Friday, as the featherweights prepared for their weigh-in.
Showtime will televise the bout.
The brother of lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez, Mexico's Rafael Marquez (39-5, 35 KOs) is best known for his four-fight series with Israel Vazquez, winning two of the bouts and engaging in some legendary exchanges that created two fights of the year.
"This is what somersaults a rising star," Arum said. "He's a great boxer, a tremendous puncher, the total package."
Although Lopez, 27, is a 4-to-1 favorite, there are some around the sport who believe Marquez, 35, is too wise and tough for the WBO champion.
Lopez has expressed concern to his closest advisers about his ability to win this fight.
"That's what makes horse racing," Arum said. "Of course I'm concerned my kid could lose, you can't win every one. He is in danger, there is a possibility he doesn't make it. But that's what will make him a star: winning a fight like this."
Saturday's boxing action also includes an HBO Boxing After Dark card in Newark, N.J., featuring a junior-welterweight bout between former champion Zab Judah and unbeaten Lucas Matthysse (27-0, 25 KOs) of Argentina, and a 10-round lightweight bout between California fighters Robert Guerrero of Gilroy and Vicente Escobedo of Woodland.
-- Lance Pugmire