20-20 Hindsight: Froch Makes the Scene, End of the Road for Taylor and What's Next for JuanMa

If you're a boxing fan and didn't enjoy the weekend that just ended, then I don't know what to tell you.

Friday night offered a more entertaining than expected fight between Cory Spinks and Deandre Latimore. Saturday was even better, with Carl Froch's dramatic late KO of Jermain Taylor and thrilling performances (for different reasons) from Juan Manuel Lopez and Gerry Penalosa - and they were spaced out in a way that you could catch both fights.

Froch should be the weekend's big winner, as beating a guy with some name recognition like Taylor makes him a known quantity outside of the U.K. for the first time. And yes, the way in which he did it also helps.

Since he's spoken recently about staying in the U.S., it will be interesting to see if he does exactly that. The top American contenders at super middleweight might not be up for a shot at Froch right away - guys like Andre Dirrell, Allan Green and Andre Ward - but there are other possibilities within a division that suddenly looks more interesting than it's been in a while.

I wouldn't mind seeing Froch fight Mikkel Kessler, Sakio Bika or Librado Andrade. There's also Lucian Bute for a battle of undefeated titleholders, though The Cobra would be wise not to fight him in Montreal.

It's probably not out of the question for a rematch with Taylor either, as the fight was close enough to warrant one. If that doesn't happen, we may have seen the last of Jermain as a top contender.

Taylor has just three career losses, but all have come in his last four fights. His best moments have come against guys that aren't known to be devastating KO artists (Winky Wright and Bernard Hopkins) and he just doesn't seem to be able to put it together against fighters who can withstand what he dishes out in early rounds. The always excellent Dougie Fischer has a great summary of what Taylor's turned out to be in his latest mailbag post on The Ring Blog.

Saturday's fight added a second "What if?" moment to add to his first fight with Kelly Pavlik as he was unable to finish Froch. It's one of the bigger ironies in boxing that a man nicknamed Bad Intentions has been undone by his lack of a killer instinct.

In contrast, JuanMa Lopez does have the know-how to go for the kill when he smells blood. He just wasn't able to do it against Penalosa, who turned in one of the gutsiest efforts in recent memory by standing and trading with the Puerto Rican star for nine tough rounds.

One nice thing about Penalosa's ridiculous staying power is that it allowed Lopez to display his whole offensive package. He can box or brawl, he mixes up head and body shots extremely effectively and he can deliver volume while still having plenty of snap on each punch.

JuanMa is also too big and strong for most guys at 122 lbs., so it came as little surprise when he stated after the fight that he was headed for 126 at the end of this year or the beginning of 2010. Even though he likes to stay busy - Lopez fought four times in 2008 - that realistically means we'll only see him in two more fights, tops, at super bantamweight.

No doubt every fight fan would love to see him face Israel Vazquez or Rafael Marquez, who he name-dropped in his post-fight interview, but would they be as eager to fight him after putting each other through hell three times in the past two years? Another compelling match-up would be with Celestino Caballero (assuming he beats Jeffrey Mathebula later this week) in a bout that would unify three of the four alphabet belts at 122.

After that, the sky's the limit for Lopez. He's already a superstar in Puerto Rico and only his lack of real rivalries and the fact that he plies his trade in the lighter weight classes are keeping him from that same status on a wider scale.

Posted by The Franchise

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