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JuanMa Lopez: "I want to go for one big payday and retire."

The Puerto Rican action star fights tonight knowing he needs a win to keep his hopes alive.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Juan Manuel Lopez has been one of the most dependable action fighters of the past 5+ years. He burst onto the scene back in 2008 on a Kelly Pavlik undercard when he stopped Daniel Ponce de Leon in one explosive round. A matchup with fellow Caribbean dynamo Yuriokis Gamboa was perhaps the most anticipated fight of 2010. The fight was famously over-"marinated" and lost steam after Lopez's first loss to Orlando Salido in 2011.

Interestingly, his rematch with Ponce de Leon in March of this year breathed new life into his career, which many thought was finished.

But, perhaps that win—in which Lopez himself was on the floor—only prolonged the inevitable, and, even worse, put JuanMa in a position to suffer more punishment.

Lopez faces Argentinian Jesus Cuellar tonight on the Golden Boy Live! show from the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas, part of the lead-up to Mayweather-Maidana II. Cuellar is on a six-win streak since being stopped for his only loss in 2011. Cuellar has some pop, winning four of his six recent wins by KO.

Perhaps most troubling is the fact that Lopez was in the ring just two months ago in a fight where he was hurt repeatedly and stopped after three rounds.

"I don’t want my career to end on a note like the Francisco Vargas loss," the 31-year-old Lopez told

"Of course, I want to go for one big payday and retire. That’s every fighter’s dream, to get the biggest payday and retire. I always said at 32 I’d like to retire but things happened to stall that a little bit. But I’m not going to go past 34. I want to retire before then."

Part of being a boxing fan means fighters will fight longer than you want them to. Here's hoping JuanMa can reach the place where he feels comfortable hanging up the gloves sooner than later.

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