Fight night at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas finally arrived after the original date was postponed due to a Marquez injury.
Round one was relatively quiet, mainly down to the fact that both fighters seemed to be trying to figure the other one out, both taking a cautious approach to the fight. Lopez snapped a few jabs out and Marquez planted a couple of nice hooks but apart from that a quiet round. I gave it to Lopez for landing more shots.
Round two was a much better round. Both fighters really started trading but Lopez was fighting smart. Punching in bursts and little one-two’s, really putting together some nice combinations, his power starting to test Marquez. Marquez complained of repeated hooks to the back of the head and eventually referee Tony Weeks warned Juanma about the offence. Round two to Lopez.
Round three was another big round from both fighters. Marquez showed that he’s a veteran with that left hook, landing it on a number of occasions in the round. Tony weeks warned both fighters about the rough tactics on the inside and as the fight resumed Juanma landed a couple of lefts on Rafael, and as Marquez was caught off balance Lopez landed another straight right which sent Marquez staggering backwards all the way across to the other side of the ring. More a case of losing his balance though as he immediately bounced back and returned fire. Round to Lopez
Round four proved to be a huge round for Marquez. Lopez started the round the brighter of the two, stringing together some nice combos, but Marquez soon turned the tables when he planted a huge left hook square on the chin of Lopez that rocked him and sent him staggering back to the ropes. Rafael jumped straight on him and unloaded with jabs and hooks, but Lopez wasn’t done yet, he returned fire and the two started trading until Lopez hit Marquez in the back of the head again. This time Tony Weeks had seen enough and deducted a point from Lopez. A 10-8 round to Marquez.
Round five was quiet in terms of action but a really scrappy round. Tony Weeks had to warn Lopez at least twice about pushing Marquez’ head down. The tempo never really got going and Lopez did just enough to win another round with a couple of nice combinations. Round to Lopez.
Round six, big round for Lopez. His youth and much bigger work rate really showed in this round. Punch perfect round with not much coming back from Marquez. Plenty of slick and powerful combinations with great use of the jab. Round to Lopez.
Round seven was almost as one sided as the last round apart from another big left hook from Marquez. Juanma finally started to show his dominance and size advantage, punishing Marquez with some big shots. The Marquez left hook came out of nowhere and briefly stopped Lopez in his tracks. Still a dominant round from the champion though. Round to Lopez
Round eight and Lopez’ most dominant round in the fight. His punches really started to sting Marquez and push him back to the ropes. Marquez ended up just swinging, hoping to land that big left hook, the same one he landed in the fourth. By this point is was more of a case of how the fight was going to be won, and not who by. Round to Lopez
Round nine began but Marquez failed to answer the bell. He had pulled out with a shoulder injury. I don’t think it would have made much difference as Lopez was clearly dominating and dictating the flow of the fight. I think Marquez would of most likely stuck it out until the end but it wouldn’t of done him any good in the long run.
The judges scorecards at the time of stoppage were: 77-74, 78-73 and 77-73, all in favour of Lopez,
I had it 78-73 Lopez.
Fight of the year so far, no doubt!
Where do they go next?
I think from Rafael’s point of view he put up a great account of himself. In my opinion he still has enough left to mix it with some of the best in the division and is better than the likes of Elio Rojas, Orlando Salido. I think a good move for him next would be to fight somebody like Daniel Ponce de Leon.
In Juanma’s case I think he has the beating of everybody in the division except Gamboa. That’s the fight that needs to be made but I think the belts need tidying up first. The best move from now would be for Juanma to fight either of Chris John or Elio Rojas, and Gamboa to fight the other. That way by the time they come to fight, all 4 major belts are on the line and the stakes are nice and high! For the record I pick Gamboa!
Thanks for reading!