There’s nothing quite like a good grudge match and former world titleholders Juan Manuel Lopez and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., two of Puerto Rico’s more well-known fighters in recent years, can’t wait to get their hands on each other.
"There is super real animosity," Vazquez said. "I cannot stand him. He repulses me. He has always undervalued and disparaged me. He's never given me my proper place. This is the first time in my career that I make a prediction: I will knock him out.”
The 33-year-old Lopez (34-5, 31 KOs), who has won titles in three weight classes, and Vazquez (24-6-1, 19 KOs), 32, will meet in a scheduled 12-round junior lightweight fight on Saturday night (Integrated Sports PPV, 9 ET, $29.95) at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The fight was contracted at a catch weight of 129 pounds as an accommodation to the smaller Vazquez, a former junior featherweight titleholder.
The fighters nearly came to blows during this week’s final press conference when they posed for the traditional face off.
“Vazquez was interrupting at all times during the press conference,” said Lopez, a hard-hitting southpaw returning from a 25-month retirement (seemingly an ill-advised return given the brutal knockouts he has suffered). “He was singing out loud and during the face-to-face picture. He tried to kiss me and I did not permit (him to). I understand that he's afraid and what a better moment than in front of everybody, including the press, to release his emotions."
Said Vazquez: Juanma Lopez and many people have belittled me. They have disparaged my sacrifice, the food that I put on the table for my family. But Saturday I will hurt him. I have a Machiavelli plan to destroy him so he will respect me.
"I am very happy for this opportunity. I will be back on top and refocus my career towards another world title and many other good things for me and my family. To that person who is always looking for me to fail, and you know who you are, standby for a great surprise."
Carlos Maldonado, president of Black Tiger Promotions, which is putting on the fight, said he is aware of the bad blood between the Lopez and Vazquez and will take extra measures to make sure there are no issues at the weigh-in on Friday.
"Security will be tripled for Friday's weigh-in so everybody can feel at ease and secure, including the press,” Maldonado said.