WBO featherweight ruler Juan Manuel Lopez puts his world title up for grabs this evening against challenger Bernabe Concepcion at San Juan Puerto Rico's Coliseo Jose Miguel Agrelot.
Southpaw Lopez, 28-0 (25), is the heir apparent to Miguel Cotto's domestic superstar status in Puerto Rico as the 27 year old from Caguas has already won seven world title bouts in just over five years as a professional.
The big punching lefty came into his WBO super bantam title challenge against Mexican slugger Daniel Ponce De Leon as the decided underdog in 2008 but left with world honors around his waist after a first round KO victory.
After five successful defenses at 122 pounds, Lopez went up to featherweight where he lifted the WBO crown from highly skilled champion Steven Luevano via a seventh round stoppage in January.
This bout against Concepcion will be Lopez's first title defense at 126 pounds and to keep the title he'll have to hold off the Filipino veteran, a younger man at just 22 years of age.
Concepcion, 28-3-1 (15), a former NABF super bantam titlist, got a shot at Luevano's WBO belt a year ago but was disqualified in the seventh after having been found to have struck the champion after the bell.
The bout had been very close and since that time Concepcion won a ten round decision over another Puerto Rican southpaw, Mario Santiago, this past February.
After two early losses, Concepcion has gone 21-1-1 since 2005, with the Luevano DQ his only drawback, but the "Real Deal" will be stepping up a class in facing Lopez.
Lopez is the puncher in this WBO title clash while Concepcion has never been stopped and that is where the deciding factor of this bout lies.
If Lopez can connect flush with regularity, Concepcion will have to rely on his ability to take punches but how long will he be able to take the punishment?
Concepcion must take the fight to Lopez and force the big puncher to throw while going backward and ideally keep the Puerto Rican southpaw from mounting an organized offense.
But not one of Lopez's 28 opponents has been able to pull that off and it will be interesting to see if tonight's challenger can change that streak.
Boxing News Tags: Bernabe Concepcion, Boxing, Daniel Ponce, DQ, Jose Miguel Agrelot, Juan Manuel Lopez, KO, Mario Santiago, Miguel Cotto, NABF, Preview, Puerto Rican, Puerto Rico, Real Deal, San Juan, Southpaw Lopez, Steven Luevano, WBO