Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Steven Luevano and Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Rogers Mtagwa: Predictions

Something that is becoming a bit of a tradition - Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa fighting on the same card at Madison Square Garden - is about to happen again this Saturday. But for the first time, both men may have their hands full on the same night.

You may recall that Juanma didn't exactly have a walk in the park the last time out, as he ended up getting rocked late in his bout with Rogers Mtagwa. Lopez was comfortably ahead on the scorecards, but he literally ended up holding on for most of the 12th round so he could make it to the final bell.

The former super bantamweight titleholder moves up to try to take the WBO featherweight belt away from Steven Luevano, who will pose an entirely different type of challenge. The smooth but relatively light-hitting (15 KO wins out of 37 victories) Californian has the most boxing skill of anyone Juanma has faced thus far, though he's had some close calls of his own over the last two years.

Hopefully Lopez learned to close some of the openings he gave Mtagwa, because Luevano will be able to exploit them much more easily. It will be interesting to see if his power can translate up another weight class, because after making short work of most of his opponents early in his career, he had trouble closing out his last three fights.

Juanma turns 27 this summer, so he's past the prospect stage. I have faith that he's still learning, though, so I think those lessons plus his natural gifts will be enough to ensure Lopez wins by unanimous decision.

Since Gamboa is being positioned for an eventual showdown with Juanma, it's convenient that he'll be in the co-feature facing Mtagwa. Even though we all know boxing doesn't have a transitive property, expect many people to be breathless with predictions that he would beat Lopez if he has an easier time with a common foe.

I expect that he will. The WBA featherweight champ has shown no problems disposing of guys at 126, and I'd give him an edge over Juanma at avoiding Mtagwa's powerful but wild shots.

If you've never seen Gamboa fight, you're in for a treat too. Unlike most of his countrymen who have difficulty shaking the Cuban amateur style, Yuriorkis goes into the ring looking to take his man out.

One thing that is a little troublesome is the rumor that Gamboa missed today's press conference in New York because he was having trouble making weight. His camp says he's just delaying facing the New York cold, but it's something to keep in mind.

Assuming all is well, Yuriorkis should simply have too much talent to lose. Mtagwa will come to fight, just as he did against Lopez, but Gamboa will prevail by mid-round KO.

Next time Lopez and Gamboa share a card at MSG, let's hope it's as opposite sides of the same fight.

Posted by The Franchise

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