Fireworks will fly during Mexican Independence Day weekend in Las Vegas, Nev., when two-division world champions Juan Manuel Lopez and Rafael Marquez collide for Lopez’s WBO featherweight title, Saturday, September 18, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The 12-round world title tilt will be televised live on Showtime Championship Boxing.
These two warriors boast a combined record of 68-5 with an astounding 61 knockouts – a winning percentage of 93% and a victory by knockout ratio of 90%.
"I am looking forward to showing my skills against a great champion like Rafael Marquez, one of the all-time greats and a future hall of famer,” said Lopez. “It will be the biggest fight of my career."
“To join the elite class of Mexican champions like Julio César Chávez, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Fernando Montiel and my brother Juan Manuel, who have won world titles in three different weight divisions, has always been a goal of mine and now that opportunity has arrived, fighting for a third division world title as my country celebrates its Independence Day.
"Making it even more special is that Juan Manuel and I would be the only brothers to accomplish such a feat,” said Marquez. “This has become the most important fight of my career and I will train for it as if I were fighting for my life.”
"This world title fight between Juan Manuel Lopez and Rafael Marquez is one of the premier battles in the sport of boxing. It will be fascinating and entertaining from start to finish,” said Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank.
“Rafael and JuanMa have never taken a step backward in their professional careers, which is what makes them so exciting and attractive to their legions of fans,” said Gary Shaw, president of Gary Shaw Productions. “This has ‘Fight of the Year’ written all over it and I’m very proud to be associated with it.”
"Marquez and Lopez are both big punchers," said Fernando Beltran, president of Zanfer Promotions in México. "They can trade, deliver big hits and take it. That is what makes this such a big-time fight."
“Lopez vs. Marquez has all the makings of a classic,” said Ken Hershman, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Showtime Sports. “The heart, determination and incredible power of Rafael Marquez make him the most formidable opponent in the young and impressive career of JuanMa Lopez.
"As a fan, I can’t wait for Sept. 18. As a television programmer, I know that this matchup delivers on our promise to subscribers—to televise the most competitive, compelling and significant fights in boxing.”
Lopez (29-0, 26 KOs), from Caguas, Puerto Rico, returns to Las Vegas for the first time in more than four years. The pride of Puerto Rico and a consensus Top 10 pound-for-pound fighter has won 16 of his previous 17 fights by knockout. He earned his first world title by knocking out defending WBO junior featherweight champion Daniel Ponce De Leon in the first round of their June 2008 fight.
After five successful title defenses – four by knockout – he vacated the title and successfully challenged WBO featherweight champion Steven Luevano, stopping him in the seventh round, on January 28, at Madison Square Garden. In his last fight, Juanma successfully defended his featherweight crown with an exciting second-round TKO of the Manny Pacquiao-managed contender Bernabe Concepcion on July 10 in Puerto Rico.
Marquez (39-5, 35 KOs), of México City, also makes his first visit to the Entertainment Capital of the World since 2006. Already the author of a first-ballot Hall of Fame career, Marquez boasts victories over world champions Tim Austin, Israel Vazquez (2), Mauricio Pastrana (2) and Mark Johnson (2).
Marquez captured the IBF bantamweight title in 2003, knocking out undefeated defending champion Tim Austin in the eighth round and ending his six-year title reign. Marquez successfully defended the title seven times before vacating it in March 2007 to challenge WBC super bantamweight champion Israel Vazquez, winning the title via a brutal seventh-round stoppage, beginning one of this era’s most exciting rivalries.
Marquez evened up their historic series on May 22 with a third-round knockout victory, the first to be fought at featherweight.