Commentary

Lopez blasts through Concepion

Originally Published: July 12, 2010
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:

Saturday at San Juan
Featherweight
Juan Manuel Lopez TKO2 Bernabe Concepcion
Retains a featherweight title
Records: Lopez, 29-0, 26 KOs; Concepcion, 30-3-1, 17 KOs

Well that was fun wasn't it? Well except, of course, if you are Concepcion, the 22-year-old Filipino contender and Manny Pacquiao protégé. Lopez, a southpaw, is an outstanding fighter, but a vulnerable one because he doesn't take the best punch in the world and he is sloppy on defense. So just when the popular Puerto Rican star looked like he was about to take out Concepcion with a bruising attack in the first round of their Showtime main event, suddenly Concepcion rallied. It was a wild round and obviously a round of the year candidate. Lopez, 27, was hammering Concepcion and had sent him staggering into the ropes courtesy of a big, straight left hand about a minute into the fight. Thirty seconds later, Lopez knocked him down to all fours with a right hook as the crowd went absolutely wild (and Showtime announcer Gus Johnson sounded as if his head might burst). Concepcion was able to continue and Lopez kept on blistering him with straight left hands. He was firing punches in bunches and seemingly on the verge of a stoppage when Concepcion threw a Hail Mary overhand left and dropped Lopez to his backside with 13 seconds left in a shocking turn of events. Whoa!

Lopez got himself together during the rest period and came out firing again in the second round, dropping Concepcion with -- you guessed it -- a straight left hand 20 seconds into the round. Late in the round, Lopez sent Concepcion reeling with a right hook and followed up with a left hand to the head that knocked him down for the second time. As Concepcion struggled to his feet, referee Luis Pabon called off the exciting shootout at 2 minutes, 37 seconds.

Lopez, a former junior featherweight titlist, had moved up to featherweight and knocked out Steven Luevano to claim a title in January before making his first defense against Concepcion, who is now 0-2 in title fights. He had previously been disqualified for knocking out Luevano with a punch well after the bell ended the seventh round of their August 2009 title bout. Lopez came into the fight knowing that a deal for his next fight was already set, so there had to be a little bit of pressure on him, even if he wouldn't admit it. But now that Lopez is through the fight and came away uninjured, we can all look forward to what should be an explosive fight on Sept. 18. With Showtime on board again, Lopez will defend his title at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas against Mexican star and former junior featherweight and bantamweight champ Rafael Marquez on Mexican Independence Day weekend. It should be a bombs away fight and add another chapter to the Puerto Rico versus Mexico rivalry, which is one of boxing's best.

Junior bantamweight
Nonito Donaire TKO8 Hernan "Tyson" Marquez
Scores: 99-91, 98-92, 97-93
Retains an interim junior bantamweight title
Records: Donaire, 24-1, 16 KOs; Marquez, 25-2, 18 KOs

Rafael's remark: Donaire is one of the best fighters in the world and on most pound-for-pound lists, but he has been spinning his wheels with pointless fights for most of the past three years. This was another classic example, as Donaire, 27, a native of the Philippines based in San Mateo, Calif., utterly dominated the smaller Marquez en route to an inevitable knockout in a fight Marquez never belonged in in the first place. The only thing that made it interesting was that Donaire used the fight to practice fighting as a southpaw. He normally fights right-handed, but he spent the first four-plus rounds fighting as a lefty, which made him a tad easier to hit. He was in total command when he switched back to orthodox in the fifth round and stayed that way until pounding Mexico's Marquez out. Donaire dropped Marquez in the fifth round on a left hand. And stopped him with a tremendous left uppercut at 2 minutes, 59 seconds of the eighth round.

Marquez, 21, lost his second fight in a row. He had been soundly outpointed by Richie Mepranum in March, which, this being a WBA interim title bout, naturally made him the perfect opponent to fight for the low-rent belt. Donaire, as outstanding a fighter as he is, is but one of three fighters in the division who claims a WBA 115-pound belt. Besides Donaire's interim trinket, Vic Darchinyan reigns as the so-called "super champion" and Hugo Cazares is called the "regular champion." Just another day at the dirty WBA office. Thankfully, Donaire, who is tired of waiting around for Darchinyan to agree to a rematch of the fight in which Donaire knocked him stiff in 2007, is going to give up his trinket and move up to bantamweight. Top Rank, which promotes him and unified bantamweight titlist Fernando Montiel, is talking about matching them in the fall in what would be a really good fight worthy of attention from Showtime or HBO. Montiel defends his title Saturday against Rafael Concepcion and would have to win to make the showdown with Donaire possible.

Saturday at Guadalajara, Mexico
Junior middleweight
Saul "Canelo" Alvarez TKO6 Luciano Cuello
Wins a vacant interim junior middleweight title
Records: Alvarez; 33-0, 25 KOs; Cuello, 26-2, 12 KOs

Rafael's remark: Alvarez, the rising Mexican star who turns 20 on July 18, packed in a big crowd as he hammered Cuello, 26, a native of Argentina living in Spain, with relative ease in an excellent performance as Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya joined in Televisa's ringside commentary. In Mexico, one of the brewing rivalries is between Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., another popular attraction. By comparison, Alvarez destroyed Cuello. Chavez faced him in March 2009 and toughed out a highly competitive decision. Alvarez had no such problems. He dropped Cuello in the first round and again in the second round. In the fourth round, Cuello's nose began to bleed heavily. In the fifth round, Alvarez floored him again with a tremendous body shot, but it was ruled a low blow and Cuello was given time to recover. The fight had been all Alvarez and in the sixth round, he hurt Cuello with yet another left hand to the body. Cuello backed into the ropes and Alvarez landed a couple of more blows before the referee stopped the fight. With the victory, Alvarez claimed the nonsensical WBC "silver" title, the organization's way of dressing up the name of its interim belt. Regardless of any silly title, Alvarez is one of the more exciting and interesting up-and-comers. Now that he is safely and impressively through the fight with Cuello, Alvarez is expected to be added to Golden Boy's Sept. 18 Shane Mosley-Sergio Mora pay-per-view card at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Saturday at Manila
Flyweight
Brian Viloria W10 Omar Soto
Scores: 97-93 (twice) Viloria, 97-93 Soto
Records: Viloria, 27-3, 15 KOs; Soto, 19-7-2, 13 KOs

Rafael's remark: In January, Viloria, fighting in front of a supportive crowd in the Philippines, ran out of gas and was knocked out in the 12th round by Carlos Tamara in a stunning upset. Viloria, 29, not only lost his 108-pound title, but there were questions about whether he would even continue his career after he collapsed in the dressing room following the fight. But the 2000 U.S. Olympian and two-time titleholder decided to go on by moving up to flyweight. Making his return, again in the Philippines, Viloria faced Soto, 30, of Mexico, a former strawweight and flyweight title challenger, who put up a good fight as pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao sat ringside. But Soto didn't have enough to turn back Viloria, despite the odd scorecard that was rendered in his favor. Viloria was clearly the winner even though it was competitive. He dominated early, including buckling Soto with a right hand in the fourth round. Soto went to a knee, but the referee ruled it a slip. Soto got back into the fight in the later rounds as he picked up the pace and began landing more solid shots, but Viloria remained steady, closed strong and should have won via unanimous decision. Although it wasn't Viloria's greatest performance, all in all, it was the perfect sort of comeback fight for him. Viloria looked strong at the new weight, showed no ill effects of what happened to him in January and undoubtedly regained a measure of confidence as he starts his run toward a third title.

Saturday at Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Heavyweight
Zack Page W8 Kevin McBride
Scores: 80-72 (twice), 78-74
Records: Page, 21-29-2, 7 KOs; McBride, 34-7-1, 29 KOs

Rafael's remark: McBride ended the career of Mike Tyson when he made the former heavyweight champ quit in a sixth-round knockout in 2005. Now, Page, the journeyman of journeymen, probably ended McBride's career with a lopsided decision. The 6-foot-6, 282-pound McBride, 37, had a massive size advantage against Page, 37, who is 6-foot and 205 pounds. But Page, of Warren, Ohio, was simply busier against the plodding McBride and easily outboxed him. After McBride, a native of Ireland based in Massachusetts, beat Tyson he was knocked out in his next two fights by Mike Mollo and Andrew Golota. Then McBride headed into a nearly three-year layoff. He was attempting to make a comeback against Page, but that is obviously going nowhere.

Friday at Atlantic City, N.J.
Welterweight
Mike Jones KO5 Irving Garcia
Records: Jones, 22-0, 18 KOs; Garcia, 17-5-3, 8 KOs

Rafael's remark: Philadelphia's Jones is right on the cusp of a major fight, so getting through a step-up fight against Puerto Rico's Garcia and looking good was pivotal. Jones, 27, who learned to box in the gym of legendary heavyweight champ Joe Frazier, accomplished both tasks, taking Garcia out and setting himself up for potentially big business. With the crowd at Boardwalk Hall's ballroom firmly behind him, Jones started a little bit slowly. Garcia showed a nice jab in the first round, but Jones became much more aggressive in the second round and stayed that way. It was a good, hard-hitting fight, but Jones' power and speed eventually were too much for Garcia. Although Garcia raised a welt under Jones' right eye in the third round, it did not hamper his attack. In the fifth round, Jones unloaded a massive flurry with both hands. He fired more than a dozen blows and had Garcia in major trouble. The last shot of Jones' attack, a left hand, strayed well south of the border -- clearly not a purposeful low blow -- and Garcia went down to all fours. Referee Randy Neumann blew the call and ruled it a knockdown before counting Garcia out. Although Neumann should have called the obvious low blow, Garcia was in very bad shape before the punch and Jones seemingly was on his way to a clean knockout victory.

Garcia, 31, of Puerto Rico, lost his second fight in a row, although the previous loss, which came 14 months ago, was a fourth-round knockout loss to Luis Carlos Abregu in a sensational brawl that rates as one of the best "ShoBox" fights in the Showtime series' nine-year history. He posed a legitimate test for Jones, who has a bright future. The possibility of a showdown with fellow prospect Antwone Smith went down the tubes when Smith was stopped by Lanardo Tyner in the "ShoBox" co-feature. However, Jones has a bigger fight in mind. He wants to challenge titleholder Andre Berto in the fall. That is a most intriguing fight. Sure, Jones is not a big name yet and HBO, which has been doing Berto's fights, wants to see Berto in something bigger, but a showdown with Jones would be an exciting and worthy fight.

Welterweight
Lanardo Tyner TKO9 Antwone Smith
Records: Tyner, 24-3, 15 KOs; Smith, 18-2-1, 10 KOs

Rafael's remark: What a nice early birthday present for Houston's Tyner, who turns 35 on Aug. 2. Each previous time Tyner had stepped up in competition he had been beaten, losing decisions to Saul Alvarez, Lamont Peterson and Mike Arnaoutis. So while he was expected to hang in with rising prospect Smith, he wasn't supposed to win. But that's why they fight the fights. It was a tough, hard-fought battle that was competitive, but Tyner seemed to be just a bit more energetic. Smith looked good through the first four rounds, but Tyner got going after that and seemed to have the edge over the next four rounds. He was landing a lot of left hands, which raised major swelling over Smith's right eye. Smith's eye was nearly closed in the ninth round and he was fading. Tyner was abusing him to the body and finally took him out when he dug a brutal left hook to Smith's gut. Smith went down to a knee and was in bad shape when he got up, and referee Earl Morton called it off, giving Tyner an upset he earned every bit of. Lou DiBella, Smith's promoter, had big plans for him, including a possible fight with Mike Jones, the victor in the main event. But that's all out the window. Smith, 23, of Miami, will need a rest and DiBella said he won't rush him back. DiBella was mad at himself for allowing the fight to go through. DiBella said Smith was ill and had thrown up several times in the couple of days leading to the fight but that he didn't know about it until the day of the fight. He said if had he known earlier, he would not have let Smith fight. The loss is a tough one because Smith was just starting to gain a lot of attention. For Tyner, it's the biggest win of his career.

Friday at Lincoln, R.I.
Lightweight
John Molina TKO11 Hank Lundy
Records: Molina, 21-1, 17 KOs; Lundy, 18-1-1, 10 KOs

Rafael's remark: Loudmouth Lundy probably isn't so loud today. Lundy, 26, of Philadelphia, came into the fight completely downgrading Molina. He insulted Molina repeatedly and called him a "dumb" fighter. Molina, 27, a classy guy from Covina, Calif., ignored it and didn't take the bait. And when the "Friday Night Fights" main event was over, it was Molina who looked a lot smarter than Lundy. Although Lundy, the slicker boxer of the two, was in control for most of the fight, "most" is not "all." Lundy was easily outboxing Molina, who prefers to slug and brawl, when Molina slammed home a huge right hand that floored him with about a minute to go in the eighth round. Lundy survived, but Molina never stopped trying to get him out of there even though he was down on all three scorecards (98-91, 98-91 and 97-92) as they went to the 11th round, a round neither man had ever seen before. Lundy had been taunting Molina by sticking out his tongue at him after rounds had ended and acting like he already had won the fight. That was, to use Lundy's own word, "dumb." The arrogance cost him. Calm and poised, Molina hurt Lundy in the 11th round and was pounding him along the ropes when referee Ricky Gonzalves stepped in to call it off and give Molina an excellent victory. It was Molina's third win in a row since veteran Martin Honorio outpointed him in November. Lundy claimed it was a premature stoppage, but that's just, to use his own word again, a "dumb" comment.

Friday at Denver
Junior middleweight
Erislandy Lara TKO1 William Correa
Records: Lara, 12-0, 7 KOs; Correa, 8-4, 8 KOs

Rafael's remark: Lara, 27, won a 2005 world amateur championship and would have been a medal favorite in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but he defected from Cuba, signed with Golden Boy and is now one of the top prospects in professional boxing. The southpaw is an excellent technical boxer, but he also has a bit of power, which he flashed against Puerto Rico's Correa, 24, in the main event of Telefutura's "Solo Boxeo Tecate." The fight was made on short notice when the original junior lightweight main event between Vicente Escobedo and Raymundo Beltran was called off about a week before the fight because Escobedo came down with a virus. Lara made the most of his unexpected opportunity on national television as he crushed Correa. Lara was connecting with hard shots with both hands and backing Correa up when he unleashed a straight left hand that dropped Correa in a corner. Correa made it to his feet, but he had nothing. Lara ripped him with more shots, including a couple of nice body shots, and knocked him down again. Correa barely beat the count, but referee Curtis Thrasher properly stopped the fight at 2 minutes, 34 seconds. Lara is going places.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.