By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Golden Boy Promotions vice president and international matchmaker Eric Gomez says the title fight between WBO bantamweight champion Gerry Penalosa (53-6-2, 36 KO’s) and WBO super bantamweight champion Juan Manuel “Juanma” Lopez (24-0, 22 KO’s) will take place as scheduled on April 25 in Puerto Rico.
In an overseas telephone conversation with BoxingScene.com, insidesports.ph, Standard Today and Viva Sports on Tuesday morning (Manila Time) Gomez said “we have been going back and forth for weeks” but that Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer had informed him after a conversation with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum that “we had a done deal.” Gomez said they were waiting for the contract from Arum.
Without revealing the numbers, the top executive of Golden Boy Promotions said Penalosa was getting “a very, very good purse and can’t afford to turn it down.”
At the same time Gomez said that he had spoken to WBO president Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel about Penalosa’s planned February 21 tune-up fight in Cebu City against Mexico’s German Meraz (20-11-1, 8 KO’s) and that Valcarcel had warned that while Penalosa could go through with the tune-up fight “if he gets hurt and can’t fight Lopez on April 25 he will be stripped of his WBO bantamweight title.”
In fact a date has already been set for an interim title fight for the 118 pound crown in Tijuana, Mexico on March 28 between mandatory challenger Eric Morel (40-2, 21 KO’s)and former WBO super flyweight champion Fernando Montiel (38-2-1, 28 KO’s) who was moving up to 118 since he couldn’t make the 115 weight limit. Penalosa would then have to defend his crown against the winner of the interim title.
Gomez quoted Valcarcel as saying they would “rather he doesn’t fight but if he has to its okay, provided he doesn’t get injured” since he also pointed out that the showdown with “Juanma” Lopez is a “big fight on HBO.”
Penalosa continues to train alongside IBF/IBO flyweight champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire (20-1, 13 KO’s) in Baguio City which has an altitude of 5,100 feet and reports from their join training camp indicate both Penalosa and Donaire are in great shape and eager to get back into the ring.
Donaire defends his flyweight titles against undefeated Raul “The Cobra” Martinez (24-0, 14 KO’s) on March 22 at the Araneta Coliseum in a world title fight doubleheader with former world light flyweight champion Brian Viloria (24-2, 14 KO’s) clashing with reigning champion Ulises Solis (28-1-2, 20 KO’s) also of Mexico.