Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lopez Versus Penalosa: A Preview

On April 25th, power puncher Juan Manuel Lopez of Puerto Rico will face off with the aging yet wily defensive specialist and dangerous counterpuncher Gerry Penalosa inside the squared circle. The significance of this bout is huge. For Lopez, this fight is his greatest challenge to date; for Penalosa, this bout will likely be his last fight to cap off his illustrious boxing career.

Prior to this fight, the 22-year old Lopez has been feasting on first round knockouts and has been seen as the winner of his match against Penalosa. The current WBO Junior Featherweight champion boasts of a flawless record of 24-0, 22 KOs. The number of his victories via knockouts is a clear indication that this guy has heavy hands. But to top that with incredible hand speed and high punching accuracy rate, victory for the boxer they call “Juanma” is not farfetched.

On the other hand, the 36-year old Penalosa of the Philippines is not some punk who just throws punches. As esteemed boxing trainer Freddie Roach puts it, Penalosa is the best defensive and most refined technical boxer from the Philippines. With vast experience and veteran guile as his main assets come fight night, the boxer known as “Fearless” will definitely frustrate Lopez when the latter looks for an early knockout.

Penalosa is durable and has not been knocked out, much less knocked down, in his entire boxing career. His six defeats against his 56 wins are all by points, close and controversial to say the least. And the guy also has considerable punching power, with 36 victories coming by way of knockout. Perhaps his best and most popular knockout punch was the body shot the right torso of Jhonny Gonzales, from whom Penalosa took the WBC Bantamweight belt in 2007.

Clearly, this fight is about experience and skill versus raw power. While it is quite understandable that Lopez has the advantage in strength and hand speed, almost everyone agrees that this fight will not end in the first round. Some even contended that Penalosa might win, which I believe requires a miracle.

Verdict: Stoppage by Lopez in the 10th round.