Juan Manuel Lopez – Boxing Ring Champion
Puerto Rican professional boxer, Juan Manuel Lopez (also known as Juanma) currently holds the World Boxing Organization (WBO) Super Bantamweight/Junior Featherweight title. Lopez has represented Puerto Rico in a number of tournaments, first as an amateur boxer and later as a professional boxer.
Born on 30 June 1983 in Juncos, Puerto Rico, Lopez showed an interest in boxing at an early age and started boxing when he was ten years old. As an amateur boxer, Lopez represented his country of birth at numerous international tournaments, most notably the 2002 Central American and Caribbean Games, the 2003 Pan American Games and at the 2004 Summer Olympics. On the home front, Lopez won the Puerto Rican national title five years in a row – from 2000 to 2004 – competing at bantamweight level.
Following the 2004 Olympic Games, Lopez turned professional in the junior featherweight division. He is promoted by Las Vegas-based promotion company, Top Rank. On 29 January 2005, in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, in his first professional tournament, Lopez notched up a knockout victory against Luis Colon, who had also just turned professional. Lopez went on to win nine tournaments in a row by knockout, defeating Ivan Cordero, Efrain Perez, Eric Nemos, Charlie Jones, Roberto Chacon, Luis Bolano, Manuel Sanabria and Jose Luis Caro.
On 4 March 2006, Lopez won his first fight by unanimous decision, thereby defeating Gilberto Bolanos of Mexico. Before the end of that year, Lopez won four more fights, three of which were by knockout. Starting off 2007, Lopez defeated Cuauhtemoc Vargas, when Vargas threw in the towel. On 3 March 2007, Lopez competed against Leivi Brea in San Juan, Puerto Rico, winning by a technical knockout.
On 28 April 2007, Lopez competed for the first time in Colombia, in the city of Barranquilla. His opponent was Colombian boxer Jorge Otero. The referee put a stop to the fight, thereby giving Lopez yet another technical knockout win. His following fight was on 22 June 2007 in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, as the main event of a card presented by Puerto Rico Best Boxing. His opponent was Brazilian Giovanni Andrade. The fight was only 2:59 into the first round, when Andrade indicated that he couldn’t continue and Lopez was declared the victor by technical knockout.
On 4 August 2007, Lopez fought for and retained his regional title when he defeated fellow Puerto Rican, Hugo Dianzo, by a technical knockout. He subsequently successfully defended his regional title against Omar Adorno on 31 October 2007, as well as against Jonathan Oquendo on 23 February 2008.
Lopez fought his first world championship match on 7 June 2008, when he challenged the then WBO Super Bantamweight title holder, Daniel Ponce de Leon. The fight was organized by Home Box Office and took place at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The referee stopped the fight in the first round declaring Lopez the winner by technical knockout.
Lopez’s partner, Barbara De Jesus, is actively involved in his daily training, as are several members of their families. The couple and their two children, as well as three children from Barbara’s previous relationship, live in Caguas, south of San Juan, Puerto Rico.