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Where does Juan Manuel Lopez go from here?

Juan Manuel Lopez Orlando SalidoBy Chris Williams: Juan Manuel Lopez (31-2, 28 KO’s) has now been knocked out brutally in two out of his last three fights and taken punishment in his last five fights against the likes of Orlando Salido, Bernabe Concepcion, Mike Oliver, and Rafael Marquez. Lopez was stopped for the second time last night by Salido and he looked bad in losing.

So where does Lopez go from here? He’s promoted by Bob Arum at Top Rank, so you can expect Lopez to get put back on a soft diet the way that fellow Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto was carefully maneuvered by Arum after Cotto was destroyed by Manny Pacquiao in 2009.

Arum will likely have Lopez go after the arguably weakest of the featherweight champions IBF belt holder Billy Dib (34-1, 21 KO’s) or someone of that talent level in Lopez’s next fight. The beauty about the featherweight division is that the division is so watered down right now with weak champions and fighters that Lopez can pick off one of the other three belt holders and it will be the equivalent of Lopez taking a stay busy fight.

Dibb, 26, can’t punch and would be lucky to make it past the third round against Lopez. The same goes for WBA champion Chris John. Lopez would do really well against either of those fighters and not have much to worry about because they can’t punch. That’s what Arum needs to do and may end up doing. He can’t put Lopez back in with Salido for a third fight without risking Lopez’s career. He’s taken two really bad beatings from Salido, and it’s pointless to put him in with Salido for a third fight even though it will make a ton of money.

Lopez showed in their rematch that he only made minimal improvements at best and STILL took a beating in losing the fight. I think that was the best Lopez could ever hope for against Salido, so his promoter Arum shouldn’t even bother taking him out for a third fight. Arum needs to put Lopez on the Cotto safe track by going after some old toothless lions and/or fighters with some kind of injury that has taken most of the fight out of them.

Arum did a great job of matching Cotto against 38-year-old Ricardo Mayorga, a light hitting Yuri Foreman, who came into his fight with Cotto with a damaged right knee, and Antonio Margarito coming off of three separate eye surgeries. So why can’t Arum do the same for Lopez? Hunt down some guys that aren’t exactly fighting at the top level for one reason or another and let Lopez get a title and then milk it for two or three years while waiting for a big fight to appear.

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