Arum let “JuanMa” Lose a Great Opportunity • Latino Sports


Arum let “JuanMa” Lose a Great Opportunity



New York- There is respect here for Bob Arum the promoter of Juan Manuel Lopez.  But come on Arum don’t make excuses for “JuanMa” who threw his undefeated record out the window and WBO featherweight title to Orlando Salido Saturday night in Puerto Rico.

A win over Salido and Lopez would have got closer to an eventual showdown with the undefeated Yuriorkos Gamboa. That eighth round TKO by Salido also closed the door for that bout with Gamboa. And too bad as it was what the boxing fans wanted to see, but Arum did not make it happen by milking Lopez along the way to a hopeful lucrative pay date with Gamboa.

So when Arum said, as he did after the unexpected turn of events, “The distractions did the job,” don’t buy that. It was a lame excuse about his fighter Lopez going down at the Ruben Rodriguez Coliseo in Bayamon Puerto Rico. Lopez showed his flaws. There was limited defense and these so called distractions, training for this fight in Puerto Rico, maybe played a role.

“With due respect to Miguel Cotto and Ivan Calderon, two great champions, I feel that I’m the most popular boxer in Puerto Rico,” said Lopez days before the fight with Salido. Now there is no reason to answer questions about the comparisons when it comes to popularity with two of the more popular champions from Puerto Rico, Felix Trinidad and Miguel Cotto.

That mega fight with Gamboa still would have not put Lopez surpassing Trinidad or Cotto.  Trinidad remains the number one champion in Puerto Rico years after his last title reign.  But, forget about all of that talk. Lopez still had some market value, even without Gamboa in his immediate future.

“The Puerto Ricans have embraced “JuanMa” similar to the way they did with Tito Trinidad and Miguel Cotto,” explained Arum last week. Yeah, that may have been true, at least until the TKO. There were enough disappointing fans in Bayamón that felt referee Roberto Ramirez Jr. stopped the fight to soon. Some threw bottles and other derbis towards the ring. And there were those reportedly who offered their displeasure at Lopez.

Okay, enough of the analysis and reasons why Lopez is no longer champion. Salido could give Lopez a rematch and that could have some value. For Arum, obviously, it could lead to building Lopez again as a valued commodity in the featherweight division. A Lopez win, and assuming Gamboa is still champion, we have the fight.

Unless, as stated here previously, Lopez decides to move up in weight which has always been an eventual plan. However, Arum does not make things better by offering excuses for Lopez. As much respect Arum receives, and well deserved, why did he procrastinate and continue to make Lopez a target?

Arum envisioned Lopez as a pay-per-view commodity because there is a base of Puerto Rican boxing fans, indicated by the 55,000 households that purchased the recent Cotto title defense over Ricardo Mayorga.  Salido became the test for Lopez to continue his popularity.

Now Salido is the WBO champion, Gamboa has his share with the WBA, and Lopez has nothing except a task to rebuild his pride and popularity. So Arum provides the answer, “I know that personal problems affected this boy,” he said about his fighter. “Boxing is a serious business and you have to be in great physical condition between fights.”

To the defense of Arum, maybe he saw this coming, and perhaps his philosophy was Lopez needed two or more fights before meeting Gamboa. The concept of making Lopez money was one. The other was Arum commenting two years ago at Madison Square Garden, after Lopez had trouble taking a unanimous decision over Rogers Mtagwa.

“If he fights that way against Gamboa he will get destroyed and lose everything,” said Arum at ringside regarding Lopez and his difficulty to get the knockout. There, Arum was also defensive about Lopez. He said Lopez and Gamboa were not ready to meet, that his goal was to make the two fighters as much money as possible.

And that night, the flaws, defense, were beginning to show for Lopez. His last fight, prior to Salido, with Mexican icon Rafael Marquez ended in an eighth round TKO. Lopez, there, ironed out some of his flaws. The questions as to how he would match up with Gamboa persisted. 

And then Salido came along. You know the story, and so does Arum.  The plan for the moment is over.  You can milk a fighter along to a certain extent. However in the featherweight division, where there are so few with the marketability, you need to get that one fight off the ground. What made Cotto so popular was the ability to rid opponents in early rounds and Arum got him the opportunity to make huge amounts of money,

That opportunity to showcase two undefeated fighters, in a division that deserves recognition, will have to wait. Gamboa remains undefeated and Lopez has to look at other options.  Arum certainly got this one wrong after 45 years in the boxing game.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]

Posted by WGR




About William Gerena-Rochet

William Gerena Rochet, is the former Latino Sports baseball editor. He is a retired NYC teacher who divides his time living between New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico. He started writing for Latino Sports during the inaugural World Baseball Classic when a series was played in Puerto Rico in 2006. On of his favorite moments was covering the 2006 MLB All-Star Game in Pittsburgh. During his time with Latino Sports, he covered several divisional and League championship series games and the 2009 World Series. He also covered the last game at the old Yankee stadium and the first game of the current one. In closing, William has covered multiples Latino Sports MVP Awards ceremonies and Spanish Language Press Conferences including the Jorge Posada retirement one. Now a contributor, Willie will occasionally cover the Yankees.