Juan Manuel Lopez has changed his tune regarding referee Roberto Ramirez's role in his loss to Orlando Salido. (Photo by Amanda Kwok/Showtime)
Juan Manuel Lopez held a press conference in Puerto Rico to publicly apologize to referee Roberto Ramirez Sr, saying that he reviewed the tape and the referee had made the correct call.
Lopez accused Ramirez of having a "gambling problem" immediately after the fight on March 10 against Orlando Salido, which was stopped by Ramirez in the 10th round after Lopez was knocked down and clearly unsteady on his feet after getting himself of the canvas.
"I want to apologize and apologize to referee Roberto Ramirez for the things I said after the fight with Salido. I'm embarrassed about what I said because I said things perhaps in the way that I do not even remember now. ... I saw the fight afterwards and I was really hurt and he stopped it, so I apologize and apologize to the people of Puerto Rico for what happened."
Both the WBO and the Puerto Rican commission are considering a suspension of the fighter, but he's hoping for a reprieve, and truthfully I think he should be given one. It was a stupid thing to say, but he's done all he can do now. He's apologized in public, and says he wants to meet with Ramirez and apologize face-to-face. There's not much more he can do, and a lot of fighters out there have worse offenses against them and are allowed to fight without much trouble. I just don't see what good it does to take a year of his career away for something like this. It was the heat of the moment and he's trying to accept responsibility for it, or at least he's doing all he can to make that believable.
As for knowing he had to be stopped, I'm sure Lopez does truly believe that. In the moment, he probably did not, but he was in a bad way and really shouldn't have been interviewed right then anyway. Lots of fighters in similar situations have been convinced they were wronged by referees who stopped fights, but they weren't. This is one of those cases. Salido recently said that he's glad the referee stopped the fight:
"The referee did a good job. He stopped the fight when it needed to be stopped. If he would've let it continue I could've hurt [Lopez] pretty bad."
And that's the real endgame here: There was nothing more Lopez was going to do that wound up good for Lopez. He was a beaten man and had taken a lot of punishment in the fight, doing his best to give as good as he got, particularly in their stunning ninth round which left Lopez completely gone -- watch him go back to that corner in that video, and see that he has nothing at all left.
It ended because it had to. Hopefully this entire situation gets put to rest soon and we can just remember this for what it was: A great fight.