By Lee Bates
WBO junior featherweight champion Juan Manuel ‘Juanma’ Lopez (24-0, 22 KOs) has scored 12 consecutive knockouts going into his bout this Saturday with WBO bantamweight champion Gerry Penalosa (54-6-2, 36 KOs). Penalosa for his part has never been stopped in 62 professional bouts. Both of these statistics lead the way for a very intriguing fight as one of these streaks is going to come to an end. When Fightnews caught up with Lopez, he spoke on comparisons of him and Felix Trinidad, the importance of him sticking to his game plan, and seeking a statement victory.
It’s been announced that this fight is going to be a sellout with more than 12,000 in attendance. Do you feel a need to deliver a spectacular performance knowing so many fans are coming out to support you?
It definitely makes me feel proud that so many fans are coming out to support me but at the end of the day it will just be Penalosa and I in the ring. He will have %100 of my attention and I fully expect to retain my title.
Do you ever find yourself getting away from your game plan and trying to please the fans?
I really don’t to be honest with you. Once that bell rings I’m completely focused on my opponent. I have to be in order for me to continue to be successful.
Many in Puerto Rico have begun to make comparisons of you and former world champion Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad because of your knockouts and fan friendly personality. Does this add any extra pressure on you to live up to the expectations?
Felix Trinidad was a great fighter and I’m truly honored to be mentioned in comparison with him. I really just try to go out and fight the best that I can and stay with what I prepared for on fight night.
How excited are you to return to HBO again in front of such a large audience?
I’m very thankful for this opportunity from HBO and I’m confident I will deliver a very impressive victory.
Entering this bout as the favorite do you feel winning this bout by knockout is important as far as making a statement?
Even though I’ve scored three consecutive first round knockouts in my last three fights some people actually think I’ve been lucky to do so. I honestly don’t go in the fight looking for the knockout but its not my fault if they fall when I hit them. To answer your question it would make a statement to be the first person to knock him out.
The event titled ‘Champion vs Champion’ is being promoted by Top Rank and PR Best Boxing (Ivan & Peter Rivera). HBO will televise the event live Saturday April 25th from the Coliseo Rubén Rodríguez in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. In the televised semi-main event, Top Rank’s Lamont Peterson (26-0, 12 KOs) will take on Universum Box-Promotion’s Willy Blain (20-0, 3 KOs) in a 12 round bout for the WBO interim junior welterweight title. Tickets can still be purchased by calling the Ticket Center at (787) 792-5000.