Mon, Jun 29, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Lopez stops Lontchi in 9th, keeps belt

AP , ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY

Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez stopped Canadian Olivier Lontchi in the ninth round to retain the WBO junior featherweight title on Saturday.

For Lopez (26-0, 24 KOs), the TKO was his 14th consecutive knockout.

“He was very awkward and very difficult to fight,” Lopez said. “The way he was fighting, he wasn’t really boxing. He was running a lot. I didn’t feel like I was fighting as much as chasing. But I knew my strength would eventually get to him. My power would wear him down.”

The 26-year-old earned the win when Lontchi went to his corner after the ninth round and told trainer Howard Grant he was unable to continue.

“He had a rib injury coming into the fight and he got hit with a bad shot there the round before [the eighth],” Grant said. “He actually wanted me to stop it after the eighth, but I told him to try it for one more round.”

Lopez scored two knockdowns in the scheduled 12-round bout.

He dropped Lontchi for the first time in the second round with a right hook to the side of the head. Early in the ninth, Lontchi walked into a straight left and went down in a heap before rising on unsteady legs.

“He’s a superstar, no question about it,” said Lopez’s promoter, Top Rank chief executive Bob Arum. “I can’t see anybody who can stand up to him in the junior-featherweight or featherweight division.”

Lontchi, a native of Cameroon now living in Montreal, also earned some kudos with a respectable effort. The 26-year-old did not have enough firepower to slow Lopez’s advances, but did his best to frustrate Lopez with an unorthodox style that included steady movement interspersed with occasional flurries.

Lopez, who was defending his title for the fourth time, appeared headed for an easy win when he dropped Lontchi in the second round.

Two rounds later, however, Lontchi began to find the mark with his own punches.

He caught Lopez off-guard with a series of crisp, straight rights that sent sweat flying from Lopez’s brow.

With each passing round, Lontchi gained confidence. Lopez was still in command most of the time, but Lontchi didn’t wilt.

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