Showtime Boxing:-The marquee of this weekend’s stacked lineup of fights is easily undefeated WBO champion Juan Manuel Lopez against veteran Rafael Marquez for the featherweight title. This one has it all – Puerto Rico vs. Mexico, fading legend vs. new kid on the block, and a good match in styles. There’s a lot on the line for both men – Lopez is looking to prove that he can be just as dominant against truly elite opposition as he is against everyone else, as well as erase any doubts about his chin or endurance, and Marquez is looking to prove that he’s still the best among the lighter weight classes now that the his wars against Israel Vazquez have finally reached a conclusion. There’s a 85% knockout ratio between the two. The question is – who will be the one to give, and who shall receive?
Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez, or “Juanma” as he is often referred, is an undefeated champion and at 27 is in the prime of his youth. Although not completely magnificent in one particular area, he is one of the most well-rounded and complete fighters in the game today with very good power, speed, defense, punch output, and technique. There has yet to be a blueprint written on how to beat him. The only real question is his chin and endurance. Lopez was floored in the first round of his last right against Bernabe Concepcion, but eventually pulled himself together to score the knockout in the following round. The real black mark on his record, however, was his fight against the unspectacular Rogers Mtagwa. With a 26-12 record, Mtagwa was expected to be a walk in the park. Instead, he ended up being Lopez’s first test in heart, as the fight seemed to demonstrate that not only does Lopez fade bigtime going into the championship rounds, but that his chin might not hold up as well if his opponents fist can reach the target. Will Marquez be the one to answer that question once and for all? We might just find out.
Mexico’s Rafael Marquez is already a bona fide legend among the lower weight classes. Marquez had seven title defenses at bantamweight before moving up to and beat Israel Vazquez in the first of four wars against the fellow legend of the lower weight classes. Like Lopez, he is very well rounded and above average in all areas, however few doubt that at 35 and at this point in his career Marquez is likely fairly shopworn, moreso from his battles with Vazquez than anything else. This type of wear and tear could have a poor effect on just about every aspect of a fighter’s performance later in their career, and the question is to what degree it has impacted Marquez. He looked good in his last fight against Vazquez, although perhaps that was just because Vazquez looked so bad. Marquez’s endurance and heart are obviously phenomenal, and while he is capable of being knocked out, he still has a very good chin given the abuse it taken in the past and how he’s dealt with it. We’ll see if it’s good enough to handle a young undefeated champion in his prime.