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Lopez, Marquez ready to clash

Story by Andreas Hale
Photos by Mary Ann Owen, Boxing in Las Vegas

A little over five years ago, two fighters clashed on Showtime in an epic battle that many casual boxing fans let slip under the radar. That fight turned out to be the fight of the decade and arguably the greatest boxing fights of all time. Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo fought in front of a sparse crowd in Las Vegas, NV and blew everyone’s mind with an incredible back and forth brawl that had fans on edge and calling their friends and family to tune in. Something about Saturday’s showdown between Juan Manuel Lopez (29-0, 26 KOs) and Rafael Marquez (39-5, 35 KOs) has many boxing pundits recalling the Corrales and Castillo clash – and for good reason.

Lopez will make the third defense of his WBO featherweight title against his stiffest test to date. Although the Puerto Rican has blown through a number of opponents with his devastating knockout ability and it appears that he is primed for greatness.

“It is truly a dream that is coming true,” Lopez said at the final press conference before Saturday’s bout. “Peter Rivera always told me I had to work real hard to get what I want. For every one it is just a dream to have this opportunity (and) we’re going to take full advantage of it.”

At 27-years-old Lopez has a golden opportunity in front of him, but don’t be too sure that his opponent is showing up in the ring on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden as anyone’s doormat to be walked over.

Across the ring will be Rafael Marquez. No longer known as Juan Manuel Marquez’ little brother, Rafael has been nothing short of impressive and will forever be tied to super bantamweight Israel Vasquez because of their action packed four fights that had fans begging for more. But now, after punctuating his rivalry with Vasquez with a devastating knockout win, the two-division world champion will be seeking his third title and look to be the first to blemish Lopez’ undefeated record.

“I had a tremendous training camp, I’m in great shape and I’m going to take this title,” Marquez said “I’m a man of few words. I know it’ll be special. I’m here to win the fight for me and Mexico.”

It has all of the potential to be a fight of the year candidate. You have two fighters, who will leave it all on the line, as they fight for the pride of their respective countries and for the opportunity to be named as the world’s best featherweight. Lopez may be a -420 favorite but Marquez feels he has all of the tools to expose his undefeated foe. Lopez, on the other hand, feels differently about Saturday’s outcome.

“I read that the team of Rafael Marquez said I have no chin,” Lopez said. “But the one that’s undefeated is me and I know he lost a few fights by knockout. On Saturday you will see who can take a punch and who can’t. Gary Shaw said “If I’m so good why don’t I fight (Yuriorkis) Gamboa. I said, ‘I’m so good I’m going to beat Marquez on Saturday and Gamboa next June.’”

Saturday’s evening of fights will also include a clash between Allan Green (29-2, 20 KOs) and Glen Johnson (50-14-2, 34 KOs) with major implications. The winner will earn a spot in the Super Six World Boxing Classic Semifinals.

Both fighters will enter the ring with an unrelenting hunger to prove to the world that they are worthy of being in this exclusive tournament.

However, the two know each other well and both admit that there is a friendship and camaraderie between the tow. Johnson sparred with a young Green prior to his first loss to Edison Miranda and Green assisted Johnson in his training camp before shocking the world with a knockout victory over Roy Jones Jr.

“I feel appreciated for all the years I put in boxing and to be part of such a prestigious event,” Johnson said. “I just want to say green is a friend of mine he’s not somebody I’m looking forward to fighting. But this is business and I’m sure he’ll feel the same way. We’ll go out and do our job and I’m sure our relationship will remain the same.”

Green is looking to make his listless loss to Andre Ward a distant memory. And in order to do that he will have to defeat his friend.

“I feel great and I’m ready to fight,” Green said. “Glen is a very good friend of mine. I’ve learned a lot from him. But as he said, on Saturday it’s all business. I know I’m ready and I hope he is. I’ll do the rest of my talking Saturday night.”

Lopez vs. Marquez and Green vs. Johnson take place Saturday, Nov. 6, live on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) from MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.

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