By William Trillo
Nowadays, when our favorite heroes fail to live up to expectations it’s not uncommon for them to deal the “I have an addiction” card and tell you that their problems are the direct result of his said, “illness”.
Juan Manuel Lopez took that to a whole new level this weekend when after getting brutally KO’d by Orlando Salido, (for the second time in as many fights), Juanma pointed the fickle finger of blame directly at the referee Robert Ramirez, who mercifully stopped the action before Lopez could face more of Salido’s wrath.
Juanma said referee Ramirez had a gambling habit that was the motive for his decision to stop the fight. “In the first fight, his son (Roberto Ramirez Jr.) stopped it,” Lopez told Showtime’s Jim Gray. “Now the father stopped it. The referee stopped the fight because he has gambling problems. I told the (Puerto Rican Boxing) Commission the referee was a gambler. “And they did wrong as putting him as the referee. It was very irresponsible for putting him as the referee knowing he has a gambling problem.”
Gambling problem or not, Ramirez did the right thing by stopping the fight when he did. The only gamble that would have transpired in the ring at that point would have been for Ramirez to gamble with Lopez’s life by allowing him to fight on in a round that had over 2 minutes left.
Since his ill-advised accusations Lopez has apologized for his statement but it does not appear Ramirez is ready to forgive and forget so quickly. Ramirez is demanding a formal and world-wide apology from Lopez and with that there is no guarantee Ramirez still won’t be filing defamation of character charges.
More importantly for Juanma, this was his moment to recapture the hearts of his Puerto Rican fans, and quite frankly, up to that point the fight was a classic and win, lose or draw Lopez may have won back the fans he had lost over the past year. Unfortunately for him, with the bowl of sour grapes he served up on Showtime it’s likely Juanma has dug a hole for himself that will be difficult to climb out of.
Talk of a rematch surfaced immediately after the fight from both fighters but again, this is a gamble that will only produce more losers than winners. Salido has given Lopez the beatdown convincingly twice now and seeing a third installment is just asking for disaster. Personally I would like to see Juanma take a long break from boxing and get his life back in order.
It is truly a shame to see what has happened to Lopez. Here is a kid who only a few years ago was on the brink of Super Stardom on the island and was the heir apparent to Felix “Tito” Trinidad. But after a few poor choices outside the ring and a loss of focus in the squared circle it appears Juanma will have to salvage a lot more than just his boxing career.
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