Lopez Stops De Leon
By Manuel Perez: In somewhat of a surprising upset, undefeated Puerto Rican super bantamweight challenger Juan Manuel Lopez (22-0, 20 KOs) stopped WBO super bantamweight champion Daniel Ponce de Leon (34-2, 30 KOs) in the 1st round on Saturday night to take his title away from him at the Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. De Leon, 27, was knocked down twice in the round and received a cut above his left eye. Lopez, 24, dropped de Leon with a left-right combination on the seat of his pants.de Leon, badly hurt, attempted to get up and fell down on his first try.
When he did finally get to his feet, he was staggering badly as the referee checked him over. Seconds later after eating a flurry of shots from Lopez, De Leon went down again from another right hand. He struggled to his feet, but this time the referee Mike Ortega halted the fight at 2:25 of the 1st round. It’s hard to tell whether Lopez was this good or whether it was just a case of him catching de Leon with a big shot. I think more of the latter, because de Leon was dominating the round up until the 1:30 mark, at which time Lopez landed a long left hand and immediately came behind it with a short right hook that de Leon neither never saw nor ever expected. The combination momentarily did nothing to De Leon other than snap his head back, but then after a second he dropped to the canvas in a delayed reaction.
After falling backwards on to his backside, he tried to get up much too quickly before he had sufficient time to recover from the shot, causing him to fall backwards as he was trying to get up. However, once he did get to his feet, he staggered briefly showing that his legs were completely gone. Seeing this, the referee should have stopped the fight but instead he asked De Leon to walk forwards to him. De Leon did, looking like a drunk as he staggered forward. The fight was then resumed with de Leon trying to circle the ring as best as he could, trying to stay away from Lopez.
De Leon disparately trying to buy time, made a complete circle of the ring, catching shots the whole time as he backed up continuously. He ultimately backed himself up into a corner, where he had no way of escaping and was forced to fight for his life. The taller, much more clearer headed Lopez moved in for the kill and fired off a flurry of shots, missing a lot but connecting with his last four combinations ending with a hard right hook to the head that dropped de Leon for the second time in the round.
He gamely staggered to his feet, looking in really bad shape, with a bad cut over his left eye. However, he immediately collapsed backwards and fell into the ropes, prompting for the referee Mike Ortega to rush in and grab a hold of him to prevent him from falling down. The fight was then stopped at 2:25 of the 1st round.
Like I said, I really can’t tell for sure if Lopez is all that good. He seemed to have gotten a little lucky by catching de Leon with a good shot, one that he wasn’t able to recover from. If not for that, I’m not exactly sure whether he would have had the goods to beat him. De Leon was the aggressor in the first half of the round and was landing his jab and straight left with regularity. Lopez’s power seemed to be fairly average and nothing close to the power that De Leon was throwing. I think it was just a lucky shot and I doubt he could repeat it if they were to meet again.
Afterwards, there was talk of Lopez fighting Israel Vazquez, the WBC super bantamweight champion. I don’t think that’s a very good idea. Vazquez has a decent chin and would have likely walked through the right hand that hurt De Leon, and given Lopez all kinds of problems. I doubt that Lopez could deal with the power or the pressure that Vazquez would be putting on him. For that matter, I don’t think Lopez could beat de Leon in a rematch. There’s just too much of a power gulf between the two fighters, which is why I think there needs to be an immediate rematch.
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