Boxing: Impressive Lopez halts Luevano for world crown

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The Independent Online

Juan Manuel Lopez won the WBO featherweight title with a seventh-round stoppage of champion Steven Luevano in New York on Saturday night.

Lopez, who previously held the same belt at super-bantamweight, showed no problems moving up a division to impress and snatch the belt, finishing Luevano with a crashing left hook to make a significant statement.

The Puerto Rican had Luevano hurt early in the seventh round and seized his opportunity, raining in blows against the ropes before a delightful left put the champion down. Luevano regained his feet before the count was out, but referee Benjy Esteves spared him further punishment and called a halt to the fight.

Afterwards, Lopez hailed Luevano's toughness. "We saw the video and we knew he would be there for me all night," he said. "I could feel I was landing it, and I was very surprised he took so many punches. He took a lot of punishment."

On the undercard, WBA champion Yuri Gamboa needed less than two rounds to demolish Rogers Mtagwa and fuel calls for a showdown between he and Lopez. Gamboa, a Cuban defector and the 2004 Olympic champion, was typically ruthless in demolishing Tanzanian challenger Mtagwa, knocking his man down 15 seconds from the end of the first round. Gamboa took his time and floored Mtagwa again in the second with a lightning combination and soon finished the challenger off.