Garcia vs Lopez: Preview and predictions from the BLH staff

Chris Farina/Top Rank

Mikey Garcia faces Juan Manuel Lopez tonight in the HBO main event from Dallas. Will Garcia stay unbeaten, or will Lopez get his career back on track with a high-profile win?

Scott Christ

I expect this to be a fantastic fight. Lopez's value is sometimes downgraded because he hasn't lived up to the considerable hype -- or even come particularly close -- but he's a big puncher, reckless to an almost insane degree, and he's never in a bad fight. JuanMa may not be who we (or they) thought (or said) he was, but he's a good fighter and a hell of a lot of fun to watch. And personally, I'm still not entirely sold on Garcia. I was getting there during his win over Orlando Salido in January, but the finish left something of a bad taste in my mouth; it was as if, in my view, the corner didn't want to know what would happen the rest of the way. They took the easy way out, which is a Business Decision and all that, and Boxing Is a Business and all that, but, y'know, boo and the like.

Garcia could run away with this fight, as he's a very skilled boxer-puncher who doesn't take any unnecessary risks, and he has the power to take Lopez out at any time, given that JuanMa first off doesn't have the world's best chin, and second, has almost no defense. If Mikey is smart, he'll win rather comfortably, though I'd expect excitement no matter how this plays out. Lopez won't allow it to be dull. And if Garcia makes mistakes or hasn't taken this seriously enough or whatever, then Lopez is good enough to pull the upset here. I'm going with the safe pick, because fight predictions are a business. Garcia TKO-10.

Tom Craze

Lopez, clearly, is a flawed fighter, and a vulnerable one at that. It's the combination of the two that makes him such an exciting guy to watch. He's rarely in a bad fight, and those two heavy stoppage defeats at the hands of Orlando Salido, while stripping away some of his lustre, have done little to negatively affect the intrigue around this, his next big opportunity.

Salido, it's been said, is the very embodiment of the type of boxer that was always likely to cause Lopez fits, a guy willing walk through two shots to land one. Mikey Garcia, clearly, is not that kind of fighter, and so, if that pair of losses for Juanma against Salido weren't so potentially shattering, it would be a little surprising to see the Oxnard man as heavily favored as he is here. That's not to say Lopez will automatically thrive against someone who's not going to use brute force as a weapon in the same way as Salido did, but it should give him a little more space to work.

It doesn't take much, though, to see what Lopez's deficiencies are, and it's hard to imagine the Brothers Garcia not knowing how best to exploit them. Garcia has been so untroubled, so effortless, thus far that it's very hard to pick against him here. Lopez may start brightly, but he'll struggle against an opponent who's just more composed, more intelligent. Garcia will frustrate him and set traps, eventually leading to a fairly abrupt conclusion sometime after the midway point. Garcia TKO7

Dave Oakes

This has the potential to be one of the best fights of the year. Lopez is rarely in a bad fight and Garcia is the up-and-coming boxer, one who will be eager to show that he's the number one in the division.

I'm slightly surprised by how much Lopez is being written off prior to this fight. Yes he's got vulnerabilities that are clear for everyone to see, but people shouldn't forget how good he is. He's only lost to one fighter in thirty-five bouts, has been a world champion at two weights and hits with serious power. This certainly won't be a walk in the park for Garcia.

The unbeaten Garcia looks the more solid fight; his defence is tighter than Lopez's and he's the more composed of the two, looking to methodically breakdown opponents rather than bludgeon them out like the Puerto Rican does.

I've not seen Garcia's chin tested by a solid puncher yet, although there doesn't seem to be any obvious signs of weakness in that department. I believe Lopez has the power to hurt any featherweight, whether or not he can consistently penetrate Garcia's defence remains to be seen. I can see Lopez being very dangerous early on; he'll be looking to put the heat on his younger, more inexperienced opponent and will be trying to test his chin.

The fight should swing Garcia's way as the rounds wear on, his work-rate, stamina and more controlled approach paying dividends as Lopez tires. I think the fight will be a thriller with both boxers trading shots and both having moments of success and moments of concern. I believe we'll see the best of Lopez, I'm not sure whether or not it will be enough for him to win the fight, though. It'll be close but I'm going with the younger man to finish the stronger to take a close decision. Garcia by SD.

Final Tally: Mikey Garcia 3, Juan Manuel Lopez 0.

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