DE LEON AND LOPEZ SET FOR CO-FEATURE ON HBO FIGHT CARD • Latino Sports

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DE LEON AND LOPEZ SET FOR CO-FEATURE ON HBO FIGHT CARD

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Read Rich Mancuso's boxing reporting from a recent news conference on an upcoming match. "At first glance a fight fan looks at junior featherweights Daniel Ponce De Leon and Juan Manuel Lopez and there may be question as to why HBO Sports would make their fight Saturday so compelling." NEW YORK – At first glance a fight fan looks at junior featherweights Daniel Ponce De Leon and Juan Manuel Lopez and there may be question as to why HBO Sports would make their fight Saturday so compelling. When more interest centers on the middleweight championship, with the challenger Gary Lockett and champion Kelly Pavlik, also televised Saturday evening, why De Leon and Lopez?

“It’s another Mexican and Puerto Rican rivalry,” said promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Wednesday afternoon at a Gallagher’s Restaurant press conference in Manhattan. Another one for Arum because on July 26th the anticipated fighters from Puerto Rico and. Mexico, welterweight champion Miguel Cotto and challenger Antonio Margarito could be a fight of the year candidate.

Besides Ponce De Leon (34-1, 30KO’s) is an established world champion from Mexico, now residing in Huntington Park, California and Lopez (21-0, 19KO’s) from Cagusas Puerto Rico are two relatively unknown and established fighters that will finally get their needed exposure.

Arum always likes fights of this nature because back in the 1980’s he developed a good business relationship with HBO. The fighter he convinced HBO to sign to a three fight deal, the former middleweight champion “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler. From there it was the start of big time boxing on HBO Sports.

But De Leon and Lopez don’t have that power, mass appeal or personality to rival Hagler. Though their fight styles are interesting and HBO exposure certainly will help gain a new core of fans. Just like Hagler did when he got in the ring with Thomas Hearns and Sugar Rey Leonard, and Arum certainly sees that type of final outcome.

“De Leon is someone I respect and Saturday will be a tough fight,” said Lopez about his opponent, the “Golden Boy Promotions” fighter represented by Oscar De La Hoya. “You will see a great fight and a new champion from Puerto Rico,” he said

Arum smiled. Because a few years back it was Cotto saying the same thing. At that time Cotto was also a promising kid with an Olympic medal, a relatively unknown name in the ring. But everyone knows what happened from there as Cotto has become one of the premiere fighters in the world.

And Lopez got some attention when he said,” I am Juan Manuel Lopez, not “Tito” Felix Trinidad or Miguel Cotto.” Certainly not, but the challenger to De Leon has the ability to take the 12-round WBO junior featherweight title Saturday evening. .And the natural southpaw does draw comparisons to Cotto and Trinidad.

A member of Puerto Rico’s 2004 Olympic team, Lopez hasn’t gone the distance since June 10, 2006 and has knocked out his last nine opponents. “I couldn’t tell you where my power comes from,” he said.

“People talk about me as being the next great fighter from Puerto Rico. I think my style is not like any other boxer’s .and they say my power is something that they rarely see at this weight. I just think it’s because I’m so disciplined.”

So expect a good fight before seeing Pavlik and Lockett. HBO since those Arum and Hagler days have become good partners And with the lightweight, welterweight and middleweight divisions very competitive, De Leon and Lopez have an opportunity to take the junior featherweights to another level.

About Rich Mancuso

Established sports journalist and educator. Contact Rich at [email protected]