By Jake Donovan
Juan Manuel 'Juanma' Lopez picked the perfect time to resurrect his career. A bailout knockout of Daniel Ponce de Leon this past March helped the former two-time titlist land a 130 lb. title elimination bout versus unbeaten Francisco Vargas, which will take place July 12 in Las Vegas.
The fight will serve as the chief support to the evening's headliner, in which Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez faces Erislandy Lara live on Showtime Pay-Per-View.
“It’s official, Juanma Lopez will fight against Francisco Vargas," confirmed Peter Rivera, Vice President of Puerto Rico Best Boxing Promotions, who represents Lopez. "This is a fight in which the winner must have a shot at the WBO world title at 130 pounds. It's another battle between Puerto Rico and Mexico and between two former Olympians (Lopez in 2004 and Vargas in 2008)."
Lopez (34-3, 31KO) has won titles in two weight classes, but has endured rough waters in recent years. The Puerto Rican southpaw has suffered knockout losses in each of the past three years, including a one-sided 4th round stoppage at the hands of Miguel Angel 'Mikey' Garcia last June.
His career appeared to be in tatters when he was in trouble early on in his rematch with Daniel Ponce de Leon this past March, only to rally back and score a 2nd round knockout in a battle of former two-division champs. Lopez' first title reign came with his shocking 1st round blitzing of Ponce de Leon in June '08; his repeat win over his old rival now puts him one step closer towards a shot at a title in a third weight class.
A win over Vargas would put him in line for a rematch with Garcia, who for now still holds onto the title for which this bout serves as a final eliminator.
Vargas (19-0-1, 13KO) appears for the second straight time on the undercard of a pay-per-view event headlined by Alvarez. The unbeaten prospect scored a 10-round decision over Abner Cotto this past March, hours before his more popular countryman rebounded from last year's loss Floyd Mayweather with a 10th round stoppage of Alfredo Angulo.
The showdown with Lopez will mark Vargas' first against a former alphabet titlist as well as his first title eliminator.
Both fighters will be on hand Friday in Carolina, Puerto Rico for the final stop of the four-city press tour to promote the pay-per-view event. Alvarez, Lara and all accompanying parties hit the road on Tuesday, with the first stop scheduled in Los Angeles, before traveling to San Antonio (Wednesday) and New York City (Thursday).
Tags: Juan Manuel Lopez , Saul Alvarez , Erislandy Lara , Showtime , Golden Boy Promotions , Francisco Vargas , Canelo-Lara , Canelo vs. Lara
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox