Wilfredo Vazquez Jr-Juan Manuel Lopez: Grudge Match
By Hector Franco
October 28, 2016
This Saturday at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico fans will be treated to a grudge match. Wilfredo “Papito”Vazquez Jr. (24-6-1, 19 KOs) will take on Juan Manuel “JuanMa” Lopez (34-5, 31 KOs). The fight has been brewing for a number of years and with both men at the tail end of their careers, it was the right time for the fight to take place.
Originally the fight could have taken place in 2011. At the time both men were undefeated and held world championships. Lopez was the WBO featherweight champion at the time while Vazquez was the WBO champion at 122-pounds. That year both men tasted their first defeats at the hands of Mexican rivals. Lopez first lost in April of that year against Orlando Salido via stoppage in the 8th round. Up to that point, Lopez was a two-division world champion and had dominated most of his competition with little resistance. His arrival as a player in the boxing landscape came in 2008 when he stopped Daniel Ponce De Leon in the first round.
After the first loss to Orlando Salido, Lopez’s career has gone in a downward spiral. He faced Salido in a rematch in 2012 and was once against stopped. This time in the 10th round. It must be noted that the second fight with Salido was especially brutal as Lopez took a tremendous amount of punishment. It will go down not only as one of the best fights of 2012 but as one of the best Mexico-Puerto Rico fights in history. Lopez would pick up a pair of wins in 2013 before facing off against Mikey Garcia in Dallas, Texas. Garcia would stop Lopez in the fourth round rather easily.
Lopez would gain some redemption by once again stopping Daniel Ponce De Leon in 2014 in a rematch. This was short lived, as Lopez would lose his next two fights in brutal fashion. The first came against Francisco Vargas. Lopez’s corner was forced to stop the fight after the third round after he had taken a sustained beating. In his very next fight against Jesus Cuellar, he was stopped in the second round with a brutal barrage against the ropes. After the two back-to-back losses, it seemed that it was time for Lopez to leave the sport before he got seriously injured.
Vazquez Jr. has had a similar career trajectory since 2011. In what many considered to be an upset at the time, Jorge Arce stopped Vazquez Jr. in May 2011 on the Pacquiao-Mosley undercard. The fight was nominated for fight of the year. Since this fight, Vazquez has had ups and downs in his career. He has lost six of his last ten fights. One of the losses being to Nonito Donaire in 2012. At the time Donaire was considered one of the best fighters in the world pound-for-pound.
In Vazquez’ last fight he lost a split decision to Rafael Rivera in Kissimmee, Florida. Going into the fight with Lopez, Vazquez’s biggest advantage comes in the way he has lost. Vazquez has only been stopped once in his six losses. Lopez, on the other hand, has been stopped in all of his losses.
With boxing in Puerto Rico seemingly at an all-time low, an exciting grudge match between two former world champions who can’t stand one another won’t hurt. Some fans may be wondering if Lopez should be fighting at all. The near two-year layoff may have done him some good and given his body time to rest. Knowing the history of the two combatants the fight should prove to be exciting. One only hopes that no one gets seriously injured.
The fight will be available on PPV starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT this Saturday night. It will be available on both cable and satellite providers. Fans can also view the fight on the www.fite.tv website for 29.99
(Featured Photo: Black Tiger Promotions)