Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lopez Survives Mtagwa's Late Rally to Retain Featherweight Title

A lot of us got surprised last Saturday when WBO junior featherweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez defeated challenger Rogers Mtagwa from Tanzania in a very unfamiliar fashion.

Clearly, almost everyone (writer included) was hoping for an early stoppage from Lopez when he stepped up against Mtagwa.

Lopez won the fight all right, but almost everybody was wrong in their predictions. It went the distance, something we rarely see when Lopez fights.

Last Saturday in a jam-packed Madison Square Garden, thousands of boxing aficionados (mostly of Puerto Rican lineage) witnessed a very exhausted and battered Lopez weathered a Mtagwa assault in the final three rounds to win via a unanimous decision.

One thing I did not put into the equation is how resilient and tough Mtagwa is. I may have judged him poorly based on his record and the quality of his previous opponents. But he has proven a lot wrong when they said he was an easy target for Lopez.

With the win, Lopez improves to a 27-0, 24 KOs, while Mtagwa drops to 25-13-2. It may not have been a walk in the park as most boxing pundits imagined it would be, but it was a tough victory and Lopez deserves the accolades for facing such a tough fighter.

Probable opponent for Lopez in his next match is Yuriorkis Gamboa (16-0, 14 KOs) who fought as part of the co-main event of Lopez-Mtagwa fight. Unlike Lopez, Gamboa effortlessly dispatched challenger Whyber Garcia (22-7) in a fourth-round TKO in his successful defense of the WBA featherweight title.


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