By Jeff Zimmerman
Photos: Robert Hughes
Undefeated World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight champion Mikey Garcia (31-0, 26 KOs) of Oxnard, Calif., and former WBO junior featherweight and WBO featherweight champion Juan Manuel “Juanma” Lopez (33-2, 30 KOs), of Caguas, Puerto Rico survived a hot day in Dallas as they made an appearance outside of Mark Cuban’s American Airlines Center in preparation for their Texas showdown Saturday. A ring was setup on the plaza in front of the arena where a couple hundred fans and media got to see the fighter’s close-up for pictures and autographs. Fightnews caught up with Juanma.
Welcome to the Dallas heat, how you feeling?
Glad to be here. It’s just as hot as Puerto Rico, but a little more dry than it is in Puerto Rico.
How has training camp come along? Are you ready for the fight?
Had a great training camp, very happy to be here. We are just maintaining the weight, that’s what it’s all about right now, keeping a good weight for the weigh-ins.
I know you hit your pre-fight weight last week – how are you today?
I’m 2.5 pounds away from it so I am good, so I will keep working and finish it up on Friday.
We know Mikey likes to strategize in the ring and is very patient. What is your plan to combat his patience?
It’s a question of pressuring him, upping the rhythm, make him fight the fight we want him to fight and we are coming in great condition so we will be able to do that for 12 rounds.
Will you go right after him?
Nothing crazy; put the pressure on and see how we can fight him at a rhythm he doesn’t want to fight, pick up the rhythm. That’s the only thing I need to do.
Are you looking for a knockout?
I am always looking for the knockout, I love the knockout, but I come to win round by round and round by round winning the fight, if the knockout comes, great, if it doesn’t, but I all I know is if somebody is getting knocked out on Saturday it’s going to be him.
Have you changed your approach to this fight after watching the Salido fight against Mikey or is it business as usual?
I didn’t even look that much at the Salido fight with him, it really makes no sense. We have totally different styles, we’re different fighters, you have to go in there thinking he is not going to do the same thing against you and he’s not, it’s different styles.
Is this a crossroads fight for Juanma?
There are always important fights in your career, they are always there for a reason or not – Ponce de Leon, Rafael Marquez, the two Salido fights, they are always important. This one is just as important as those.
If you beat Mikey Garcia Saturday night, will he have a rematch clause to fight you?
There’s nothing in there, in my contract for rematches or anything like that. I beat him; I am looking forward to fighting Donaire at 126 and moving up to 130.
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Garcia vs Lopez, televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark will be promoted by Top Rank, in association with PR Best Boxing, Foreman Boys Promotions and Tecate.