Boxing/MMA

Preview: Lopez vs. Marquez Could be Fight of the Year

| by Ian Palmer

This weekend kicks off an interesting couple of months for the sport of boxing. Starting Nov. 6, we'll see several big fights through the end of the year. The biggest, of course, will be the Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito showdown for the vacant WBC Super Welterweight crown on Nov. 13 in Dallas.

However, there are more compelling bouts that should grab the interest of most boxing fans. The Nov. 6 bout between unbeaten Juan Manuel Lopez (29-0, 26 KOs) and Rafael Marquez (39-5, 35 KOs) for Lopez’s WBO Featherweight title at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is one of them.

The fight features two guys with a lot of power -- and could provide fans with fireworks once the bell rings. Lopez, the 27-year-old southpaw champion from Puerto Rico, will be making the second defense of the featherweight crown he won back in January when he stopped Steve Luevano in the seventh round. Lopez was the reigning WBO Super Bantamweight champion before that and defended that crown five times after taking it from Daniel Ponce de Leon via a devastating first-round knockout in June of  2008.  

Marquez of Mexico City is a bit long in the tooth at 35 and has been through several wars over the years, especially his excellent four-fight series with Israel Vazquez. Marquez won two of them by stoppages, lost one by TKO and tied one by split decision. Marquez is a former WBC Bantamweight and IBF Bantamweight champ.

If Marquez was younger I’d give him the edge here, considering he’s more experienced and has faced tougher opponents. But going toe-to-toe with Vazquez four times takes a lot out of a fighter, no matter who it is. The fight was also postponed from Sept. 18 when Marquez suffered a thumb injury so that could also affect him.

If Lopez wins, it’ll be his greatest achievement so far as a boxer, but let’s remember this is a classic case of an up-and-coming boxing star taking on an excellent veteran fighter who’s in the twilight of his career. Remember, Marquez looked a little shaky when he beat Rogers Mtagwa by unanimous decision back in October of last year and many fans disagreed with the decision in the slugfest.

Both Lopez and Marquez possess excellent power, speed, accuracy, heart, and recuperative powers, with Lopez being a little better defensively. On paper, the fight is one of the best matchups of the year and realistically it could go either way. Lopez will be favored and that’s not really a surprise due to the age difference, inactivity, and Marquez’s recent wars. Marquez has the power to deck Lopez, and that’s his best and perhaps only shot at winning this fight as I don’t see him winning it on points.

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