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Reports by Matt Richardson & Mariano A. Agmi
Photography by Emily Harney

Juan Manuel “Juanma” Lopez showed the 5,142 fans in attendance at the WaMu Theatre inside of Madison Square Garden that he learned an important lesson in his seven round destruction of WBO featherweight champion Steven Luevano:  Patience is a virtue!

Rather than blitz his opponent as he attempted with Rogers Mtagwa in the same venue last October, Juanma (28-0, 25 KOs) employed his vast arsenal and sharp counterpunching to slowly breakdown Luevano (37-2-1, 15 KOs) until he wilted from the punishment.

It was particularly interesting to see how each fighter would respond to adversity in this bout since both fighters were badly hurt in their previous outing:  Luevano won by disqualification in August 2009 when Bernabe Concepcion hit him after the bell to end round seven while a severely hurt Lopez had to run out the clock to win his last bout by decision against Mtagwa this past October.

The bout began with both southpaws trading right jabs as they circled one another.  Lopez, who moved up to the featherweight division after campaigning at jr. featherweight for most of his career, immediately imposed himself as the power puncher.  Juanma began to hook off the jab by mid-round, landing a right to Luevano’s neck followed by a straight left as round one came to a close.

Lopez, from Caguas, Puerto Rico, continued to counter effectively in round two, landing the sharper blows when the fighters traded shots in close.  Lopez began to connect with his straight left hand as the round progressed, landing several unanswered blows at the bell.

In round three, Luevano, from La Puente, CA, heeded the advice of trainer Robert Garcia to redirect his attack and focus on the midsection of Lopez in an attempt to slow his challenger.  However, whenever the lighter punching Luevano landed a significant blow, Juanma quickly responded with shorter, more compact punches.  Towards the end of the round, Lopez landed a lunging left hand which he followed up with a storm of left uppercuts and right hooks that bloodied the nose of Luevano.

Luevano seemed unable to hurt
Lopez throughout the fight despite landing his share of left hands.  With his left eye beginning to swell, Luevano tried to change his luck by pressuring Lopez in round five, but just as he landed a significant left hand, Juanma once again responded with a three punch combination forcing him to back off.

Lopez continue to beat up Luevano in round six, digging right hands to the body and unloading an arsenal of punches that included a left uppercut, right hooks and straight lefts. 

In round seven, a huge right uppercut hurt Luevano.  Sensing that the end was near, Juanma followed up with a short right hook to the chin and a left to the head that dropped Luevano against the neutral corner.  Luevano rose to his feet, but after a quick observation, referee Benji Esteves chose to stop the bout at 0:44 of the round.

“He’s a great fighter and a big puncher,” stated the former champion.  “I was blocking the right hook the entire fight, but he got me in that last round.”

Lopez was ecstatic after the contest: “My dream is to win titles in four weight divisions.  This is my second one, and I’m very happy that I was able to show the public something different.  This was a difficult fight because [Luevano] is a very intelligent fighter, but he wasn’t as strong as some of the fighters I faced.”

As for his future, Lopez stated that he is eager to face any of the big names his promoter Top Rank puts in front of him, including Yuriorkis Gamboa and the winner of Israel Vasquez-Rafael Marquez IV.---Mariano A. Agmi


Consider the gauntlet thrown down!

If an observer discussing a potential Juan Manuel Lopez – Yuriorkis Gamboa fight was looking to compare the young stars, the likely comparison would have been common opponent Rogers Mtagwa.  Lopez barely (emphasis on barely) beat Mtagwa in a “Fight of the Year” candidate last October.  So, it was thought, that Mtagwa would provide a sturdy test for the rising Gamboa and a good gauge on who would win a showdown between the unbeaten fighters.

So much for conventional wisdom.

In what was unequivocally his best and most destructive display to date, WBA featherweight title-holder Gamboa demolished Mtagwa, knocking him down twice before finishing him off in the second round of a scheduled twelve.

Maybe because everything was taken out of him in his war with Lopez or maybe because Gamboa was that good.  Whatever the reason, this one wasn’t even competitive. 

Gamboa (17-0, 15 KOs) found success immediately with his left.  At the mid-point of the first, he badly rocked Mtagwa with a left hook.  Another big, quick left hook in the final seconds of the round put Mtagwa down on his side.  The round was near its conclusion, though, and the opportunity for Gamboa to capitalize was missed.

Mtagwa (25-14-2, 18 KOs) did not have better luck in the second round.  Gamboa did damage with an overhand right that couldn’t miss.  Another right with just a minute left in the round put Mtagwa down on the seat of his pants along the ropes.  Mtagwa rose to his feet again but the ending was inevitable.  A sloppy combination that may have only partially connected put Mtagwa down again along the ropes in his corner toward the end of the round, prompting referee Steve Smoger to call a halt at the 2:35 mark.

Punch statistics illustrated Gamboa’s dominance: 107 punches thrown, 53 connected for a connect percentage of 50%.  Gamboa landed 52 of 87 power shots thrown for an alarming accuracy percentage of 60%.

In short, the fight was just that – short and explosive.  It was also a clear signal that Gamboa is more than ready for a Lopez challenge.---Matt Richardson


“Ireland’s” John Duddy made an impressive return to Madison Square Garden, annihilating Juan Astorga in round one.  The inaptly nick-named “Aztec Warrior” took a knee a minute into the first round after Duddy (28-1, 18 KOs) bounced a right hand off his head.  A left hook to the body a few seconds later dropped Astorga (14-4-1, 9 KOs) again, and this time referee Wayne Kelly waived off the bout at 1:55 seconds of round one.

Next for Duddy is a showcase bout on the March 13th Pacquiao-Clottey undercard.---Mariano A. Agmi



Junior middleweight Pawel Wolak scored a nondescript victory, winning a lopsided eight-round unanimous decision over Ishmail Arvin.  Wolak arguably won every round in a thorough (if workman-like) manner.  The scorecards read 80-72 and 79-73 (twice).  Wolak is now 26-1 with 17 KOs with the lone loss coming to Ishe Smith.  Arvin, who hadn’t fought since besting Anthony Thompson back in August 2008, drops to 15-2-4, with 7 KOs.---Matt Richardson



In a jr. welterweight bout, Green Lawn’s Chris Algieri outpointed James Hope by scores of 59-55 and 59-55 (twice), over six rounds.  Hope (4-4, 4 KOs) from Rock Hill, SC, gave Algieri a tougher time than expected, bloodying Algieri’s nose and right eye with straight right hands in round three.  However, Algieri roared back with a dominant round five, staggering Hope in the final seconds of the round with a huge left hook during an exchange.  Another powerful combination in the final round sealed the fight for Algieri, who improved to 10-0 (5 KOs).  One judge scored it at 59-55 while the other two judges scored the contest at 58-56.---Mariano A. Agmi


Bantamweight prospect Jorge Diaz made quick work of Tommy Atencio, dropping Atencio twice for a first round technical knockout victory.  The whole fight only lasted 93 seconds.  Atencio was dropped at the end of a combination less than a minute into the fight.  He rose unsteadily but was promptly deposited on the canvas again not too long afterwards.  Diaz, from nearby New Jersey, is now 11-0 with 7 wins coming by knockout.  Atencio, meanwhile, now enters the journeyman realm with a record of 4-4 with 2 KO wins.---Matt Richardson


Long Island's Tommy Rainone improved to (13-3, 3 KOs) winning a four round unanimous decision against Mexico City's Gerardo Prieto (6-8-1, 0 KOs).  Southpaw Rainone boxed effectively, landing accurate counterpunches against his aggressive rival, dropping Prieto with a counter left hand in round two.  The scores were 40-35 and 39-36 twice.---Mariano A. Agmi


Unbeaten local light heavyweight Will Rosinsky maintained his unblemished ledger with a slow four-round unanimous decision over Markas Gonzalez.  Rosinsky, a numerous Golden Gloves winner, won the contest by scores of 40-36 (twice) and 40-35.  There were no knockdowns.  Rosinsky now moves to double digits in the win column for an overall record of 10-0 with 6 KOs while Gonzales drops to 7-3 with 4 knockouts.---Matt Richardson


In the opening bout of the night, Carlos “El Flaco” Negron (7-0, 5 KOs) used his considerably longer reach and superior work rate to outpoint Garrett Wilson (7-3, 2 KOs) by unanimous scores of 60-54.---Mariano A. Agmi

While the shorter Wilson landed effective left hooks to the head early on, Negron employed a long left jab to set up big right hands and left hooks to the body to take control of the contest from the third round on.---Mariano A. Agmi


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