It was a grudge match years in the making between two former world champions from Puerto Rico, and while it descended to utter farce from a sporting standpoint, it certainly didn’t fail to entertain.
Former WBO World featherweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez, 33, has hung around at ‘fringe contention’ level since being dethroned by Orlando Salido in April of 2011, and on the back of two consecutive defeats, felt it was time he settled a score with fellow former WBO champ Wilfredo ‘Papito’ Vazquez, who held the super-bantamweight belt at the same time as his local rival.
And when we say ‘local’, we mean local. Both former champions grew up less than half an hour apart from each other, and seemed destined to trade leather when they simultaneously held belts at the start of the decade. Five years and 12 collective defeats later, shit went down in the neutral territory of San Juan – just a 10-minute drive from Vazquez’s residence, Bayamón, and 25 minutes from Lopez’s hometown of Caguas.
It was Lopez who emerged victorious with a perhaps slightly premature final round stoppage over his old foe, following a close encounter between two faded fighters who simply wished to have it out. With beer, ice and all sorts of other missiles being fired towards the ring from angry Vazquez fans, Juanma Lopez turned his attention to Vazquez’s corner and stormed towards the felled fighter’s trainer. He swung wildly and clipped the trainer with some clubbing shots (bear in mind Lopez has 32 KOs from 35 victories, so the trainer demonstrated one mean chin here)..
The inevitable rematch will make for some compelling build-up and viewing indeed.