Undefeated world champion Juan Manuel “Juanma” Lopez was named the Boxer of the Year for 2008 by the Puerto Rico Boxing Commission. Lopez won all of his four of fights last year in a combined five minutes and captured the WBO jr. Featherweight Championship in June with a spectacular first round knockout of champion Daniel Ponce de Leon.
“There are many great champions in Puerto Rico and is a real honor for me to have been given this award. I’m very happy and humbled to received such a prestigious award,” said Lopez, who will defend his championship for the third time on April 25 in Puerto Rico against two-time world champion Gerry Penalosa.
Lopez stopped Jonathan Oquendo in three rounds to began 2008, then stopped in one round Ponce de Leon, Cesar Figueroa and Sergio Medina, winning, then twice successfully defending his 122 pound crown.
“I didn’t know the success would be this fast for me, but my team always told I was ready and that why I must thank all my team for the great work they have done for me in such a short time. It has taken a lot of effort and sacrifice but it all has been worth it,” said Lopez.
Other winners were Luis Cruz for most improved, Eril Morel, comeback of the year, Orlando Pinero as manager of the year and Alex Caraballo, trainer of the year for their work with Lopez.
World Champions Ivan Calderon, Daniel Santos and Roman “Rocky” Martinez were also honored.