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Lopez is star of night but old men Johnson and Marquez make some noise

07
Nov

Glen Johnson, 41, stopped Allan Green on the Juan Manuel Lopez-Rafael Marquez card Saturday to reaffirm his place among the best fighters. Photo / Millennium Photo.

In the main event, an aging warrior fell short against a rising star but gave us more thrills than many expected. In another fight, a remarkable old man proved once again that age is just a number.

Juan Manuel Lopez was the stud of the night Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, scoring an impressive knockout over 35-year-old Rafael Marquez when the Mexican declined to come out of his corner after the eighth round.

Marquez didn’t hand the victory to the emerging Puerto Rican hero and naturally bigger man, though; he provided some scary moments before ultimately taking considerable punishment and then quitting with what he said was a right shoulder injury.



Lopez (30-0, 27 knockouts) was emboldened by his domination in the first few rounds, which supported the prevailing presumption that Marquez (39-6, 35 KOs) was in decline after so many ring wars.

Smelling a dramatic knockout and bursting with confidence, Lopez charged Marquez recklessly in the third and fourth rounds and paid a price as the underdog began to connect. In the fourth, he rocked Lopez with a series of hard punches that clearly stunned him and had viewers thinking upset.

An apparent wipeout suddenly became a real fight.

However, by the sixth round, a more-judicious Lopez began to break down his older foe with a frightful accumulation of hard punches in the seventh and eighth rounds, although Marquez, true to form, continued to fight back bravely in what appeared to be a lost cause.

The former champ from Mexico City decided enough was enough after the eighth round, claiming he aggravated a shoulder problem that apparently originated sometime before the fight.

Thus, the result most observers expected became reality. Lopez stopped his most-accomplished opponent yet to remain undefeated and continue his climb up the list of best and most-marketable fighters in the world.

He definitely had to earn it, though.

“He's the best fighter I ever fought,” Lopez was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. “If I'm No. 1, he's No. 2. He was hurting me. ÔǪ It's the toughest fight you'll ever see in this division. Every time he hit me he was strong as an ox.”

Of course, Marquez was hoping for a different result. Still, he proved to his doubters that he is not in the condition of his four-fight rival, Israel Vazquez, whose talents have clearly faded.

Marquez gave a fearsome young opponent a bit of hell before going out. And if his shoulder was actually an issue, well, things might’ve turned out differently.

“If I hadn't hurt my shoulder,” Marquez said, “it would have been an all-time great fight. I'd like a rematch.”

Even in the defeat, Marquez left the ring with more admirers than he had coming in.

The same can be said of Glen Johnson, whose performance against Allan Green on the Lopez-Marquez undercard had to leave everyone who watched shaking their heads in amazement.

Johnson (51-14-2, 35 KOs) is 41. He turned pro in 1993. He had 66 fights going into Saturday. He hadn’t fought at the 168-pound limit, the weight for this fight, since 2000. He has been a light heavyweight since then.

In other words, it’s incredible that he was even in this fight. The fact he won it to move into the Super Six World Boxing Classic semifinals defies logic.

Green (29-3, 20 KOs) wasn’t a pushover. The Tulsa, Okla., fighter, trying to bounce back from a miserable performance against Andre ward, fought Johnson on even terms for seven-plus rounds. He led on two cards by the same score (67-66) and trailed on a third (68-65) after seven.

Johnson showed no signs of his age or effort to get down in weight, though. He landed some rights stunned Green, who remained fairly busy but didn’t fight with gusto.

The end came in dramatic fashion. With Green’s head down, Johnson landed a right behind his ear and then another right to his face as he was falling to the canvas.

Green, who had complained that Johnson was hitting him behind the head, plead his case again to referee Robert Byrd while he lay on the canvas. He got to his feet at around the count of 9 but Byrd, convinced Green could not go on, stopped it 36 seconds into the round.

Just like that, the old man reaffirmed his place among the best boxers in the world and earned at least one more important fight in the Super Six semifinals.

He won’t know who his opponent is until after the Arthur Abraham-Carl Froch fight on Nov. 27. If Abraham wins, Johnson will fight the Armenian. If Froch wins, Johnson will fight Ward.

“It means a lot,” Johnson said immediately after the fight. “I’ve dedicated lot of time to this business, a lot of sacrifice. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, some were justified and a lot weren’t unjustified.

“I never quit on myself. I go back and work hard in gym to come back for these opportunities. And this one was here. I just tried to make the most of it.”

That he did.

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