“IF YOU’RE THE MAN YOU SAY YOU ARE, TELL YOUR MANAGER
AND PROMOTER THAT YOU WON’T FIGHT ANYONE BUT ME NEXT.”
HOLLYWOOD, FL, October 13 – After WBO super bantamweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez barely survived a 12 round war with huge underdog Rogers Mtagwa Saturday night in New York City, it was no surprise that Lopez’ team began scurrying for the door when it came to the proposed unification bout with WBA / IBF champion Celestino Caballero.
“I’m not surprised at all,” said a disappointed and angry Caballero. “Everyone knows that Lopez and his team don’t want any part of me, and him almost getting knocked out by an old man with 12 losses just confirms that he will continue to fight opponents who either can’t punch, can’t move, or can’t be stronger than he is.”
Most boxing observers expected that the highly-anticipated unification bout would be signed and announced following the Lopez-Mtagwa match, but Lopez’ life and death struggle in defense of his title has made Bob Arum and Top Rank, Lopez’ promoters, look for less threatening opposition, and Arum has even claimed that Caballero turned down an offer for the fight, something Leon Margules, Executive Director of Seminole Warriors Boxing, says is a lie.
“We were never even presented an offer for the fight,” said Margules. “I want this fight, Celestino wants this fight, and the fans want this fight, so we are willing to do whatever it takes to make it. But I know after Saturday night, the odds of getting this fight done have dwindled considerably.”
Meanwhile, Caballero hopes one last plea to Lopez will turn the tide and give fans a 122-pound superfight in 2010.
“JuanMa, I saw in Primera Hora that you said that you want to fight me, but that your promoters don’t want it,” said Caballero. “I’ll take you at your word on that, but if that’s true, you need to let Top Rank know that you’re the champion and you’re the boss. You’re the one in the ring doing the fighting, so if you’re the man you say you are, tell your manager and promoter that you won’t fight anyone but me next. If you do, I promise I won’t punish you for 12 rounds; I’ll just take you out in five or less.”