By Ricardo Conde
WBO featherweight champion Steven Luevano (37-1-1, 15 KOs) of La Puente, CA, trained by former junior lightweight champion Robert Garcia at the La Colonia Boxing Gym in Oxnard, CA, will be on taking on current WBO junior featherweight champion Juan Manuel “Juanma” Lopez (27-0, 24 KOs) of Puerto Rico on January 23rd at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY, which will be shown live on HBO and is being promoted by Top Rank, in association with Arena Boxing U.S. and PR Best Boxing. Luevano’s last title defense was against Bernabe Concepcion back in August in a bout which Luevano was dominating when Concepcion hit Luevano after the bell to end round 7 and resulted in a win by disqualification for Luevano. In the co-main event, unbeaten WBA featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa (16-0, 14 KOs) defends his title against Rogers Mtagwa (26-13-2, 18 KOs). Tickets are on sale at www.ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, at the Madison Square Garden box office, at www.thegarden.com and are priced at $200, $100, $75 and $50
Photos: Ricardo Conde
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We had a moment to sit down and talk to Luevano as he prepares for his upcoming bout, here’s what he had to say:
You’re currently preparing for your next fight, which will be against Juan Manuel Lopez, what do you know about your opponent and what do you think of him as a fighter?
We know that he’s a strong fighter. He’s knocked out a lot of his opponents but he’s not going to do that to me. I think he’s taking me a little bit too lightly.
Do you think this is going to be the toughest fight of your career so far?
I wouldn’t doubt it. Juan Manuel Lopez is a great fighter. He’s a champion at 122 and he’s coming up in weight so that might make him a little bit stronger or not, but I do think he’ll be my biggest challenge yet.
How is training camp going?
Training camp is going good. I’ve been here for 7 weeks now and everything is going good, no injuries or anything. Preparation is great right now.
Let’s talk a little bit about your last fight. In your last outing, your fight with Bernabe Concepcion ended in a disqualification; do you think you were winning the fight at the time it was stopped?
Oh yeah, I was winning the fight. I have no doubt in my mind that I was winning the fight and I think he knew he was losing so he had to do something to try and take me out or to hurt me in order to start hitting me.
Was Concepcion the best opponent you have faced to date and what’s your opinion of him as a fighter?
I don’t think he was the best that I have fought. I have fought guys that were a lot harder than he was and as dirty but just not as much. I think he still needs a lot more experience; they might be pushing him a little bit to fast than what he can actually accomplish.
What kind of statement are you looking to make in your fight with Juan Manuel Lopez?
That I’m the best at 126 and after this hopefully I’ll get a fight to unify the titles.
Should you get past Lopez, would you like a unification bout with any of the other champions, Chris John, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Cristobal Cruz?
Well to me it doesn’t really matter as long as I get another belt. So whether it’s one of the three or all three it doesn’t really matter to me. I would like to fight whoever wants to fight me.
Do you plan on moving up in weight any time soon?
No, I’m not planning on moving up in weight. I can make weight and I don’t have any trouble making 126, so no, I’m not planning on moving up.
What are some of your goals for 2010?
To keep my title and to hopefully get another one by the end of next year.
Is there anything you would like to tell your fans?
I’d like to thank everyone for their support and to watch my fight on January 23rd because I’m going to prove I’m the best at 126 and beat Juan Manuel Lopez.