Juan Manuel Lopez appears he can't take it any longer: The 122-pound titlist might look to unify with Celestino Caballero after all, setting aside a January 23, 2010 date for the bout, according to Primera Hora (link via BoxingScene.com).
"I am willing to fight Caballero whenever, but first his promoters have so sit down and speak with mine. I have listened to Caballero and not said anything, so I hope that when the fight comes, he backs up everything that he says. I am going to knock him out. He won't make it past the eighth round."
This reminds me of the segment of White Men Can't Jump where BIlly Hoyle is jaw-jacking at Flight and Willie during the two-on-two tournament, and his teammate, Sidney Deane, gets pissed off along with Flight and Willie. Billy's reasoning is simple: He's trying to anger Flight and Willie, who probably don't play well when they're mad. He's also trying to anger Sidney, who he assumes does play well when he's mad.
So the question is this: If Caballero has really annoyed Lopez this much and goaded him into a fight that SOMEONE obviously didn't want, does Lopez fight better or worse when he's pissed off?
This fight does have to happen, though. Vazquez and Marquez are not in Lopez's picture, even though JML plans to move up to featherweight. He says he'll now save that for June 2010 in order to fight Caballero at 122. Past Caballero, there is no real challenge for Lopez at junior feather, and a move up or this fight is 100% necessary. You can't be as good as Lopez appears to be and fight the likes of Olivier Lontchi and Rogers Mtagwa. It's no disrespect to either of those fighters, but the fights aren't up to snuff. They're just not. And Lopez seems to know that, too, as he's protested fighting Mtagwa.
I have to say, as much as Caballero has done and as loud as he's been to get this fight made, I don't think he stands much of a chance with Lopez. He's just not that good. He's earned his way onto P4P top 20 (some top 10) lists to some degree, but a lot of his success comes purely from being a total freak of nature. I don't blame him for that or anything, but Lopez is way too good for him, in my opinion. Caballero was lucky to escape with his title against Jeff Mathebula last time out.
I think I'm also having a bit of a hard time buying Caballero as the folk hero calling down the cads that rule boxing. Caballero has a fight on August 29 with a guy who has less business challenging for a world title than Lotchi or Mtagwa, and a lot of the guys he's fought since 2007 were iffy contenders (Jorge Lacierva), really really old (then-43-year old Elvis Mejia), past their prime (Mauricio Pastrana), well out of their weight class (Lorenzo Parra) or overrated and protected (Steve Molitor). Again, this is not something I really blame Caballero for; he beat all those guys and I don't think many folks have been knocking down his door to fight him, either. But I think Caballero is reaching that point where people are starting to make more of him than is really there. Maybe I'm wrong; I've said before that I simply don't like watching him fight and that might affect my judgment. If anyone wants to defend Caballero, he probably deserves it.
But I do hope this fight is made. It should be. It's the last big fight at 122.