'Call Em Out Fridays' : Juan Manuel Lopez - A Look at Puerto Rico's 'Next'
By Vivek Wallace: The land of Puerto Rico has given the sport of boxing arguably more talent, per capita, than any other location on the globe. Tiny in size, yet lengthy is the list of legendary fighters who proudly call the land of Boricua's home! The most recent staple from Puerto Rico to win the world over was Felix 'Tito' Trinidad; a man who's will and legendary power was the perfect contrast to a bright smile, giving the island an answer to Mexico's part-native son, Oscar Dela Hoya.
Article posted on 29.10.2010
After a rash of disappearing acts which resulted in periodical returns, the final exit of Trinidad subsequently left the proud island searching for the next best thing. The two most recent offerings presented variable results, yet none truly withstanding. One possessed the talent, (Calderon), yet never truly contained the level of excitement necessary to elevate himself to that next level in the sport, or to some degree, even beyond the island, as rarely will you ever hear of him around the sport, despite his sound fundamental skill-set. The other most recent offering from the land of Puerto Rico, (Miguel Cotto), had the patented warrior spirit fight fans crave, the power, as well as the evolving skills you want to see in a rising prospect; but his rise to fame would later be washed away by a storm of speculation that would see to it in the end that he'd never be the same again. Although Cotto's mission quietly continues, the islands collective spotlight has now officially shifted to the 'next'..
On January 29th, 2005, this particular 'next' began his career as a solid prospect with a world of talent to build on. Big, strong, power in both hands, and that very innate intangible that few in the sport have learned to conquer - the well coveted southpaw stance. Fast-forward a few years, and after a couple intriguing matchups and a growing fan fare, suddenly, the young Juan Manuel Lopez (29-0, 26KO's) finds himself center-stage with a dance partner who dances to a different cadence. Next week, that dance partner, (Rafael Marquez/39-5, 35KO's), will attempt to add to an already intriguing legacy of his own as the two square off live from Las Vegas.
When you scale down the resume of Lopez, while there are a few notables, the true perspective lies within his rather modest number of pro rounds fought which currently stand at 119. Supporters will say this is reflective of his KO frequency, while critics will point to the level of opposition in which he performed those KO's on. Regardless of which perspective may hold the truth, the reality is that the young Lopez has probably not seen enough to prepare him for the level of experience he'll now face. Marquez will bring a bevy of experience from tons and tons of ring battles to assist him in his effort to overcome the rising star, but the same way Lopez's inexperience may work against him, this extended experience for Marquez could also prove a strong detriment, as the 35 year old Mexican warrior has recently appeared far-less-than-amazing.
As of now, Puerto Rico's hunt to present it's new warrior continues.....and in a little over a week, that mission will be defined. The only thing we do know is that the night will end with a 'next'. What we don't know is whether that will be the 'next', as in Puerto Rico's 'next' best? Or 'next', as in the islands 'next' to fail at carrying the torch of an island that seems to have somehow lost its light! Tune in next week to find out.
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, Youtube VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEKWALLACE747), FaceBook, and Myspace).
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