Top Rank's Bob Arum has said recently that his long-term vision is to match 122-pound titlist Juan Manuel Lopez and 126-pound phenom Yuriorkis Gamboa, both under his banner, somewhere down the line. But one of the two of them could be facing a stern test from WBO featherweight titlist Steven Luevano before that. Rick Reeno reports that Top Rank has said to "not be surprised" by either fight happening.
Luevano (36-1-1, 15 KO) is scheduled to face Bernabe Concepcion on the August 15 Top Rank PPV from Las Vegas, headlined by Nonito Donaire. He won the vacant WBO title in 2007 by stopping Nicky Cook in the 11th round in Cook's backyard in England. Since then he's defended against Antonio Davis, Terdsak Jandaeng, Mario Santiago (a draw) and Billy Dib. His only loss came in 2005, a 10-round decision to Martin Honorio.
Lopez (26-0, 24 KO) has been on a tear and is climbing P4P lists already. He bashed out a win over Olivier Lontchi on a Top Rank PPV on June 27, and is reportedly quite unhappy with Top Rank's next choice for him, a September 26 defense against journeyman Rogers Mtagwa, who competed in what some called the 2008 Fight of the Year with Tomas Rojas. Most see Mtagwa as not being a credible threat to Lopez or his title.
As for Gamboa (15-0, 13 KO), he's tentatively scheduled to be part of that September 26 card, too, likely against a somewhat soft opponent.
It would seem to me that Arum wouldn't want to take any real risks with Gamboa or Lopez (which I think explains his current softie scheduling of Lopez on some levels), both of whom he probably believes would beat Luevano. Luevano is an above-average technician, but he doesn't have much of a punch and had some real trouble with Santiago, who like Lopez and Gamboa can throw heavy leather. And no offense to Luevano, but there's a lot more money in Lopez or Gamboa than there is in Steven Luevano. In some ways, Luevano would be a scalp for one of them, at least in theory, and he's a legit top five featherweight, too.