Sports

Is Juan Manuel Lopez's One-Year Suspension too Harsh?

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Puerto Rican boxer Juan Manuel Lopez has been suspended for a year by the island’s Professional Boxing Commission for saying that referee Roberto Ramirez had bet on his opponent after being stopped by Orlando Salido of Mexico on March 10.

Lopez, a former WBO world featherweight champion, was also fined $10,000 and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service during the hearing on Apr. 4. There was no explanation though on how a boxing commission has the power to order somebody to perform community service.

Lopez’s rematch with the world champion Salido was stopped by Ramirez in the 10th round after Lopez was dropped to the canvas and unable to defend himself when he beat the count. Ramirez’s son was the referee who stopped the first fight between the two boxers when Salido beat Lopez for the title several months earlier. Both bouts were held in Puerto Rico.

Lopez was being interviewed in the ring by Jim Gray of the American television network Showtime after the March 10 fight and said Ramirez stopped the contest because he had a gambling issue. He said the referee stopped the fight too early and his son did the same thing in the first fight. While an argument could be made for a premature stoppage in their first bout, most boxing experts agreed with Ramirez’s decision to stop the second fight when he did.

Lopez apologized publicly twice for his comments in the ring and said he didn’t really remember making them until watching the replay of the fight the next day. His promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, said the suspension is ridiculous and will be appealed. Arum said Lopez was obviously disoriented when he made the comments due to the punishment he’d received in the ring just seconds earlier.

Arum said it makes no sense to punish somebody for making stupid comments after they’ve just been concussed and the boxing commission shouldn’t have let him be interviewed in the physical state he was in. Arum added that Lopez can’t really be held responsible for what he said. He admitted if Lopez had made those statements the following day after he had recovered then he should be held responsible, but pointed out the boxer apologized profusely for his words.

The 28-year-old Lopez, who has a record of 31-2 with 28 KOs, previously said if he was suspended by the commission then he might have to consider retiring, but has...

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