Next Friday September 4th kick starts an unusual three months period in which three pinoy fighters will be challenging for world titles against Boricua champions.
Manny Pacquiao’s battles against the most recent crop of Mexican greats ignited a national boxing rivalry between Philippines and Mexico that has claimed a spot for the Philippines in discussions about boxing power houses. Is Puerto Rico up next?
Up to this day there had been very few notable title fights involving Puerto Rico and Philippines with Puerto Rico holding a comfortable lead.
Puerto Rican hall of famer Carlos Ortiz’ two knockout wins over late Filipino great Flash Elorde, Samuel Serrano’s win and draw against Ben Villaflor, Nelson Dieppa’s explosive 11th round ko over Andy Tabanas, Ivan Calderon’s 8th round ko over Noel Tunacao, Juan Manuel Lopez 10th round stoppage over Gery Penalosa and most recently Ivan Calderon’s technical draw against Rodel Mayol combine for a 6-0-2 (5 kos) record in favor of the Caribbean warriors. Can this new group led by pound for pound ruler Manny Paquiao turn the tide?
Round one of three starts matching 37 years old veteran Jose “Carita” Lopez 39-7-0 (32 Kos) against 19 years old rising prospect Marvin Sonsona 13-0 (12 Kos). It has been a rough journey for Lopez who holds the particularity of having won his first world title in his 5th attempt. The experienced and powerful boxer puncher has been in an impressive run since his last loss in 2001, a title fight in which he managed to score a knock down over defending champion Fernando Montiel.
During this time Lopez worked his way up the rankings ladder the old way. He has compiled a 15-0-1 (8 Kos) record including a mild upset knock out over Dominican young gun Juan Mercedes. After collecting most regional titles available Lopez finally got his world title via unanimous decision over 45-1-1 Pramuansak Posuwan last March.
In Sonsona he faces an explosive punching southpaw that many writers have gotten to compare with the great Manny Paquiao. Lopez’ camp pays no attention to the comparisons and has expressed to have trained as hard as he trains for any other fight. “I always come well prepared and this will be no exception. He’s young a little taller than me but we will do a good work. I will be prepared for anything he brings. I don’t think he can bring anything that I have not seen before but I’m sure he will be facing something new when he faces me due to his inexperience which can be a big factor. Nevertheless I can’t be overconfident and I am not,” were Lopez’ words when asked about his young challenger.
In preparation for this bout Lopez has accumulated a total of 140 rounds of sparring, including several encounters with fellow champion Ivan Calderon who by the way faces Rodel Mayol next month in the second round of this series. Lopez has been already close to the 115 pounds limit for several days so he expects to have no problems to comply with a contracted rare same day weight in. “It’s rare and unusual but its the same for both of them. “Carita” is making the weight comfortably. expressed Lopez trainer after revealing the strange agreement.
Round one comes up next Friday and many questions will be answered. Will experience prevail over youth? Will this be Sonsona’s coming out party as the next Philipino boxing sensation?