WBO junior featherweight champion Juan Manuel ‘Juanma’ Lopez (27-0, 24 KOs) is back in training as he prepares for his upcoming world title fight challenge of WBO featherweight champion Steven Luevano (37-1-1, 15 KOs). The bout will take place on January 23rd at the Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York with HBO televising. It will be Lopez’ first fight since he unanimously decisioned challenger Rogers Mtagwa to retain his title in a thriller this past October. Fightnews spoke with the PR Best Boxing (Ivan & Peter Rivera) and Top Rank promoted Lopez prior to his departure for New York. Lopez is headed there for the upcoming initial press conference this Thursday to publicize his upcoming fight with Luevano.
How long have you been in training camp now?
I started training camp about two weeks ago so I’m right on schedule.
You gained a lot of respect from fans and those in the boxing for the heart you showed in your last fight with Rogers Mtagwa. What has been the reaction in general when you have been out and about since the fight?
It’s been very positive. I’m happy that I was able persevere and show the heart of a true champion.
You said your fight with Mtagwa was the toughest fight of your career. Do you feel making the 122-weight limit made the fight that much tougher?
Mtagwa is a very durable and determined fighter. It was a very tough fight but in the end I won the fight and now I’m moving on.
You’re moving up to the featherweight division for your next fight. Do you feel that you will be just as strong at 126 as you were at 122?
I believe so. Thats 4 pounds less that I will have to lose. I expect to be even stronger at featherweight.
What do you know about Luevano?
I know him very well from back in our amateur days. He is a good person and a very skilled world champion. I will have to perform at my absolute best to defeat him and that’s what I’m going to do.
WBA super featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa is fighting Mtagwa on the same night and card as your fight. How do you see that fight playing out?
Anything can happen in boxing, but I think Gamboa will dominate Mtagwa. He is the much faster and the more complete fighter of the two.
Your previous 2 fights on HBO After Dark have really been thrillers. Luevano is more of a boxer. Do you think this fight can be exciting as well?
Luevano definitely is a different style of fighter from Daniel Ponce De Leon and Gerry Penalosa, who I both fought in my previous HBO After Dark appearances. I’m still going to come to the ring with my same crowd pleasing style which will make the fight exciting.