On a cool autumn evening in Las Vegas, Showtime once again provided fight fans with an exciting night of boxing at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Rising Puerto Rican featherweight sensation Juan Manuel 'JuanMa' Lopez put a beating on Mexican veteran Rafael Marquez, with the corner stopping the fight after 8 rounds. In the co main event, ageless super middleweight Glen Johnson stopped contender and former sparring mate Allan Green for the first time in his career, earning himself a spot in the semi finals of the Super Six.
In a classic example of the up and coming fighter taking on a rugged former champion, Juan Manuel Lopez (28-0, 25 KOs) faced Rafael Marquez (39-5, 35 KOs) tonight for Lopez' WBO featherweight title. The fight continued the friendly, yet intense, Puerto Rico - Mexico boxing rivalry which has given us tremendous fights in the past, and this one would not lack in excitement.
In the opening stanza, a feeling out process took place as the counter punching cagey veteran Marquez looked to let JuanMa lead, while firing occasional jabs to the body. The action finally heated up, as Lopez landed a fury of punches to end the round. Lopez continued to lead in the 2nd, firing off right hooks from the southpaw jab.
With a minute left in the 3rd, JuanMa landed a left hand that sent Marquez stumbling backwards. A fiery exchange ensued, and Lopez seemed to come away with the better of it. The 4th round was a good one for Marquez, as he stunned JuanMa with a counter left, who was later deducted a point for hitting on the break.
An angry Lopez emerged in the 5th round, as he attacked and stalked his Mexican foe. The pressure continued into the 6th, as Lopez started battering Marquez on the ropes with straight lefts and right hooks. A consummate warrior, Marquez fought valiantly as Lopez teed away with lefts and rights as referee Tony Weeks looked closely at the end of the 7th.
It was a wonder that Marquez remained upright throughout the 8th, as he was trapped in a corner for the last minute absorbing shot after shot. His bravery was never in question, but with his safety in mind, Marquez' corner stopped the fight before he could answer the bell for the 9th round.
With another spectacular performance, Juan Manuel Lopez proves he is at the elite level of the featherweight division, and unification matches are much deserved.
In the re-vamped Super Six super middleweight tournament, Allan Green (29-2, 20 KOs) faced off with veteran Glen Johnson (50-14, 34 KOs), who is in the seemingly endless twilight of his career. The stakes were high as the winner would advance to the semifinal round of the tourney, while each fighter looked to rebound from tough losses in each of their last fights. The fighters know each other well, with Green serving as a sparring partner for Johnson in the past.
Both fighters entered the ring looking to be very warmed up, which is a good sign since both appeared to be very dry at yesterday's weigh in. Johnson returned to the 168 pound weight class for the first time in 10 years for this opportunity to continue his long career.
Green looked to establish position early behind a stiff jab, but 2 hard right hands landed for Johnson about half way through the 1st, letting the younger Green know that he was in for a fight. Green moved and jabbed throughout the second, and seemed to even up the score.
A right uppercut by Green awoke a monster in Glen Johnson, as he unleashed a fury to end the round, punctuated by a right uppercut of his own, leaving Green wobbling back to his corner to end the third. Glen Johnson dug in and took the fight inside in the 4th, stalking and smothering the range of Green while digging body shots and crosses in hard.
Green ordered a heaping helping of overhand rights in the 6th round, and Glen Johnson gladly served them up. Side orders of left hooks to the body were complimentary. The work to the body and constant pressure paid dividends for Johnson, as he established dominance midway through the scheduled 12 rounds.
The final overhand right ended the night brutally at 36 seconds of the 8th round. The first landed in the ear area, then a missed left hook to the body, followed by another right as Green was falling it spelled the end of his Super Six hopes. Surprisingly, 2 of the 3 judges had Green leading on the scorecards at the time of stoppage. With the win, Johnson once again extends his career with another big time fight on tap for him next.