Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Arum Thinks Juan Manuel Lopez is the New Star

Juan Manuel Lopez is blossoming into a bright flower of a prizefighter. Bob Arum thinks the sky could be the limit for him.

Bob Arum has promoted a multitude of of mega-events and superfights in his 40 plus years in boxing, and he promises to continue doing so. But in order to have a mega-event a fighter first needs to be nurtured and developed. This weekend Arum is promoting “Latin Fury 9” a pay-per-view event that will take place at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

The centerpiece of the show will be Arum's new jewel, 25-year-old Puerto Rican sensation Juan Manuel Lopez, who will defend his WBO 122-pound title against Olivier Lontchi.

Arum is of the opinion that Lopez (25-0, 23KOs) will be the next big thing in boxing. But first, “Juanma” as he has come to be known, has to get by the undefeated Lontchi (18-0-2, 8KOs) who was born in Cameroon but now resides in Montreal and is known as the “Canadian champion.”

“Puerto Rico has produced so many great champions,” Arum said earlier this week. “The list is endless, but of course there is the great Wilfredo Gomez, Wilfred Benitez, “Tito” Trinidad and just last week you saw such a tremendously gutty performance in Madison Square Garden from Miguel Cotto. Now we've got Juan Manuel Lopez.”

Arum, 77, who has been around long enough to have promoted Muhammad Ali, is of the opinion that he will be able to build the young Lopez into another in the long line of his major attractions.

“I've got another one here now,” said Arum of Lopez. “He comes from the same town as Miguel Cotto – Caguas, Puerto Rico – and now he's the new star on the horizon out of Puerto Rico. His people really love him and it's almost like magic.”

Arum is of the opinion, that in the years to come, Lopez will be as big an attraction as Cotto is now. One of the ideas mentioned by the tireless promoter is to eventually put Lopez into the main event at Madison Square Garden on the eve of New York City's annual Puerto Rican Day parade. It's a spot thought to be exclusively reserved for Cotto, but Arum, ever the fistic visionary, one day sees that as a night that may instead be reserved for Lopez.

“As you know, we have a commitment to bring a major fight to the Garden the night before the big parade,” said Arum. “Now we have another great Puerto Rican star who will be able to fill the Garden like Miguel did. I'm very excited because this kid has everything. He's a boxer, he's a puncher and he's a nice, nice young man. He's a great family man and he represents all of us proud to be in boxing.”

Arum has had Lopez appear twice in “The World's Most Famous Arena” and both times it was on the undercard of Cotto fights on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Lopez is an exciting fighter with a good punch and no opponent has been able to last the distance with him in over three years

“Puerto Ricans adore this kid,” says Arum. “And now we have another really great Puerto Rican star.”

June 2009

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