The professional license of former WBO titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez was suspended for a one-year period on Tuesday by the Professional Boxing Commission of Puerto Rico because of disparaging comments made by Lopez about referee Roberto Ramirez Sr. following his 10th-round TKO loss to Orlando Salido on March 10.
Lopez (31-2, 28 knockouts) was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and provide 100 hours of community service, according to a report by The Associated Press. Lopez has 20 days to file an appeal.
Peter Rivera, whose Puerto Rico-based company co-promotes Lopez with Las Vegas-based Top Rank, Inc, could not immediately be reached. But Rivera told BoxingScene.com that Lopez is planning to appeal the decision.
“We will definitely appeal the penalty, which we believe is too much for a boxer,” Rivera, vice president of PR Best Boxing Promotions, told BoxingScene. “We are already meeting with JuanMa and his entire legal team … to carry out this appeal.”
Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank, Inc, called the decision “ludicrous.”
“The Puerto Rican commission should be ashamed of themselves,” Arum said. “To punish a kid for saying anything after he has been concussed in the ring in ludicrous. People who have suffered a concussion and who have suffered that type of punishment when they are still feeling the affects of it are prone to say anything.
“And they’re not responsible for what they say. Now if he said it the day after, or sometime after, yeah, you can throw the book at him. But not when he says it immediately upon being concussed and being knocked out. That is not right.”
Lopez was originally dethroned by Salido (38-11-2, 26 KOs) by an eighth-round stoppage in April in a bout officiated by Roberto Ramirez Jr. Salido-Lopez II was refereed by Roberto Ramirez Sr. Both fights took place in Lopez’s native Puerto Rico.
Lopez has twice apologized for his comments, the first time in a March 11 statement.
“I want to apologize to Roberto for the comments I made after the fight against Salido,” he said. “Roberto is one of the best referees in the world, he did a great job and I appreciate him for protecting me because I was definitely hurt. Everyone knows how much I trained for this fight and all the sacrifices I made because I wanted to give a great victory to Puerto Rico. Maybe, in my frustration for failing my country, I said things that right now I don’t remember.
“… And again, I want to thank Roberto for his work. Also, I want to give the credit to Salido for his victory and thank to him for coming to my country to give me the rematch. There was a great fight as all of the fans could watch and I want to thank all the fans for their support. I want the fans to know that I have some things to (accomplish) in boxing and I’ll be back soon.”
Later, Lopez held a press conference in his native Puerto Rico where he issued a second apology last month, also hinting that he would likely retire in the event of a year-long suspension.
“It would advance my retirement. Boxing is my job, I couldn’t go a year without fight,” Lopez said during the press conference. “I want to apologize again, now in public, to Roberto Ramirez for the comments I made after the fight against Salido. I’m embarrassed for all what happened and I want that Ramirez forgive me.
“I don’t remember what I said. I’m ashamed. I saw the fight and, really, I was hurt. Roberto [did] a good job in stopping the fight. I apologize again to Ramirez and to all the fans in Puerto Rico and around the world.”
Arum found the commission’s move even more disturbing given Lopez’s two, separate expressions of remorse.
“He has to file an appeal. What can I do about it?” said Arum. “There’s such terrible politics down there in the Puerto Rican commission, and within various factions of the commission, that what happened is really reprehensible from the standpoint of the commission.”
Photo / Peter Amador-Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org