Redemption, Revenge & Retirement: Juanma Knocks Out Vazquez in the 11th!


 

By Robert Quijano

Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, Puerto Rico was the site of Saturday’s Black Tiger Promotions “Guerra en El Clemente” with Juan Manuel “Juanma” Lopez vs. Wilfredo “Papito” Vazquez Jr. The highly anticipated 12 round Main Event that many said was five years too late. Papito ever the showman, entered the ring with a gold wrestling mask and played to the crowd which was at least ¾ of his fans. Juanma entered with his children and seemed very calm.

Round one started and Juanma followed Papito around the ring throwing a bit wide and showing ring rust from his two years of inactivity. Papito landed more punches throughout the first round but nothing of significance. Round two Juanma began to get in stride and landed the more telling blows. The crowd would switch from chants of “Juanma” to chants of “Papito” as each took their turns landing. Round three Papito began counterpunching Juanma’s advances. Round four Juanma began to land combinations and was able to edge out the round after the referee had to break up a clinch that Papito refused to let go. Round five was a close round for both and could have gone either way. The crowd erupted in cheers believing Juanma had dropped Papito but it was merely a slip. Round six was probably the best round where both stood toe to toe but although Juanma seemed to land the harder blows (loud thuds were heard with each blow), Papito landed a higher punch total. Six rounds had passed and many were in disbelief. The consensus had thought Juanma would’ve either won by knockout early or be too tired after round five.

Juanma Lopez vs. Wilfredo Vazquez - Photo Credit: Rob Quijano / BoricuaBoxing.com

Juanma Lopez vs. Wilfredo Vazquez – Photo Credit: Rob Quijano / BoricuaBoxing.com

Juanma was well conditioned and continued to go after Papito who began blinking with his left eye. Good exchanges in the round. Rounds eight through ten consisted of exchanges by both and Papito began to drop his hands after round eight. Juanma began connecting more with his left hand and Papito began to utilize the ring more. Round eleven arrived and again I repeat, many at ringside were in disbelief. No one expected the fight to last this long. Papito came out boxing and Juanma continued to pursue. Papito landing jabs as he tried to avoid Juanma and Juanma backed Papito into a corner. Juanma began landing blow after blow and then it happened, Juanma dropped Papito into the ropes. The referee quickly stepped in and stopped the fight. Was it a quick stoppage, I don’t think so. Papito was taking heavy punishment and there was no need to further the damage.

Juanma Lopez vs. Wilfredo Vazquez - Photo Credit: Rob Quijano / BoricuaBoxing.com

Juanma Lopez vs. Wilfredo Vazquez – Photo Credit: Rob Quijano / BoricuaBoxing.com

As Juanma walked around the ring which had not been cleared by the referee, one of Papito’s trainers (Alberto Rivera) entered the ring instigating Juanma. Juanma ran over to him and both threw punches at the same time. Rivera landed and so did Juanma. I will say that Rivera had been insulting Juanma for the weeks leading up to the bout so “Bad Blood” had developed between both. It was still a lack of professionalism by both. I had never seen anything like this before in person as a melee started in the ring with several parties attempting to break up the altercation and several fans throwing plastic cups with ice and drinks into the ring. To say it was raining was an understatement. The ring filled with Police, cornermen, associates, and Papito and Juanma. Both combatants began to talk to each other in the corner, hugged, and both stepped on to the ropes for the crowd. Papito told Juanma, “Tu eres un hombre de verdad y gracias por esta oportunidad (Truthfully you are a real man and thank you for the opportunity).” Juanma announced to the crowd that the rivalry was over and both showed their mutual respect. At the end of the day all of Papito’s antics at the press conference were to sell the fight. Juanma got his redemption with the people of Puerto Rico with this fight and the most telling factor was his jaw took some very powerful blows and he didn’t falter. Juanma got his revenge for the years of insults of him being called garbage by Papito. Papito after the fight stated that his eye has bothered him since the Jorge Arce bout from years ago and that this was his final fight. The fight lived up to the “War” title it had been given and surpassed expectations with the inactivity of Juanma. As I watched and scored the bout ringside, I don’t believe Juanma needed the knockout to win because there were many close rounds but what a way to close the show. Juanma plans to continue boxing but many are hopeful that he also hangs up the gloves in victory.

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The Co-Main Event of the evening pitting Jonathan Oquendo vs Gustavo Molina was cancelled and we were informed at approximately 8:20pm. All we were informed was that it was issues with Molina and the Boxing Commission. I was able to catch up to Molina before he departed the Coliseo, as the PPV card was about to air. Molina told me that he had a 45 day suspension in Texas and served the term of the suspension. Molina continued that he informed the Commission of this and was present in Puerto Rico for a week, where he was granted a license. Molina stated that he arrived at the Coliseo prepared to fight and the Commission told him that they could not allow him to fight due to the suspension. Molina continued that no further elaboration was given.

Former Puerto Rican Olympian Jantony Ortiz was also scheduled to be featured on the PPV telecast but his fight was also cancelled.   Opponents had been changed three times but in the end, one could not be approved.

Jomar Alamo defended his 140 lb. WBC FECARBOX title against Edwin Lopez with a TKO at 1 second of round two. Lopez could not report to round two due to an injured right hand. Alamo did drop Lopez in the first round but he recovered after a standing eight count. The crowd booed loudly.

The undercard fights that remained had many shaking their heads as to what kind of matchmaking had been done with the only real test was between two debuts who had fought to a war in the amateurs, Jomar Robles vs Fernando Semidey. Robles won by TKO Referee stoppage at 1:14 of round two (Robles also dropped Semidey in the first round). Remaining fights had JanCarlos Rivera by TKO over Angel Garcia as Garcia did not respond for the third round. Emmanuel “Tito” Morales by TKO over Anderson Zayas at 1:07 of the first round. Jelame Garcia by TKO over Jose Luis Perez Adorno. Adorno did not respond to the third round. Emil Blanco Gonzalez by unanimous decision over Eric Piniero (the only fight to go the distance with scores of 39-36 twice and 40-35—Piniero was deducted a point for hitting after the bell in the first round). Yamil Alamo by TKO over Jose Gonzalez at 24 seconds of the first round and Joseph Torres by TKO over Rey Thomas Arroyo at 10 seconds of round one. The look on Arroyo’s face prior to the bout clearly showed he did not want to fight. The crowd was very displeased with the undercard and the matchmaking. These are fighters who are good prospects and pitting them against opponents who aren’t willing to fight back isn’t going to do them any good with their career when they face real competitive tests in the ring.

Giving a grade to the action of the night, I would give the Main Event a B-plus because it exceeded expectations. Had this bout occurred years ago when both fighters were in their prime then the grade would more than likely have been an A. The undercard unfortunately gets a D, just barely passing and it’s only because of the prospects who show promise and deserve better challenges. The fans deserve better challenges and here’s hoping it can get done.

-Keep Jabbing-

Rob Quijano
Boxing Writer & Photographer at BORICUA BOXING™
After obtaining a black belt in Nisei Goju-Ryu as a teen, I became a sparring partner for a friend who was a professional boxer in Puerto Rico in the early 80's. My true passion was unveiled and that led to a brief amateur career and then becoming a Boxing trainer while serving in the US Army and after my tour was served. I am a proud Father of 4 and have been covering boxing as a writer/photographer for 18 years. Protect yourself at all times and keep jabbing!

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Rob QuijanoRedemption, Revenge & Retirement: Juanma Knocks Out Vazquez in the 11th!