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Friday, May 17, 2013
JuanMa: I learned from Salido, will box more

By Carlos Nava

Juan Manuel Lopez and Rafael Marquez
Juan Manuel Lopez, right, says he has adjusted his style to take less punishment moving forward.

DALLAS -- Juan Manuel Lopez says he has learned his lesson.

Two defeats against Mexico's Orlando Salido -- and worse, the loss of his featherweight title -- left a mark that the Puerto Rican star hopes to carry with him as a reminder for the rest of his career.

"I realized that I'm not invincible," Lopez said. "At one point I think I felt invincible. I had never lost.

"But the fight with Salido helped me realize that I have to work harder and harder. It helped me to work with more vigor. I've learned to take things more calmly."

Lopez will have the opportunity to regain his 126-pound belt against current titleholder Mikey Garcia when the fighters meet on June 15 at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Garcia won that title in January by beating Salido in a fight that he dominated before it was stopped in the eighth round by an accidental head-butt that had fractured Garcia's nose.

But as far as Lopez is concerned, there is nothing to read into Garcia's victory over Salido when it comes to predicting the outcome of his own bout with Garcia.

"Mikey faced a beaten Salido, who was coming off a very difficult fight against me," Lopez said. "Mikey is a great fighter with a style quite different from mine. I've always said that styles make fights, and Mikey has the style required to dominate a fighter like Salido.

"Many say that Mikey hurt [Salido's] right eye socket, and I am sure that I hurt his orbital [bone] fighting in Puerto Rico," Lopez added. "I really damaged Salido. I'm not taking anything away from Mikey -- he is a great fighter with a very fine style. But I helped him defeat Salido."

Lopez (33-2, 30 KOs) was knocked out by Salido in the eighth round of their first bout, in April 2011. Salido then repeated the feat with a 10th-round stoppage in their March 2012 rematch.

The second time around, a concussed Lopez, 29, cried fraud and accused the fight judges and organizers of gambling and was suspended from boxing for a year by the Puerto Rico Boxing Commision.

The punishment was lifted 11 months later. Since then, he has won by knockout in both of his matches, against Aldimar Silva Santos and Eugenio Lopez.

"The year I was inactive helped me recover, to think about boxing, to regain the hunger for the sport and for a world championship," Lopez said.

Garcia (31-0, 26 KOs), 25, expects a tough and experienced opponent in Lopez, one who is motivated to regain the title he won in January 2010 against Steve Luevano.

"I'm getting ready to fight the best JuanMa, which I think is going to surface that night -- a good fighter with good technique," Garcia said. "And nothing's going to have to do with my victory over Salido. It has nothing to do if I beat Salido and he beat JuanMa. I'm going to face a great fighter."

Lopez said he is going to show up in Dallas an improved boxer. He claims that he will continue to press forward in his fights -- which has long characterized his style -- but will also try to box more to avoid taking too much punishment.

"I'm going to move a little more and be a little more calm," he said. "Before, I was just a slugger, in search for action all the way.

"I'm going to keep my style but with some adjustments that you will see in front of Mikey. You will see me be aggressive, but I'll box at the same time."

Lopez, who has fought mostly in Puerto Rico and just once in the U.S. since beating Luevano for the title, recently visited American Airlines Center. He had been there just once before -- back in 2010 when he dropped in on an NBA game to see his friend, Mavericks guard Jose Juan Barea.

"And I hope that the third time around, it's to win a championship," he said.