Forgotten Legends: Ricardo Lopez

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By: Steve Gallegos

In the sport of boxing, it is very difficult to be dominant and remain dominant. To retire unbeaten is a great accomplishment in itself. Former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano retired with an unbeaten record of 49-0 and Floyd Mayweather is very close to matching or breaking that record. There was however another fighter who has already accomplished that feat that many have forgotten about. That fighter was Ricardo Lopez. Nicknamed “El Finito” which means “The Finisher“.

Lopez truly lived up to his moniker as he was probably the most dominant champion during the 1990’s as he dominated the smallest weight class in boxing; the Strawweight division. He was a devastating power puncher with a finesse left uppercut. Lopez was born in Cuernavaca, MX and he had an outstanding amateur career in which he did not lose a bout, going 39-0. He would turn pro in 1985 at the age of 20 and would go on a hot streak, going 26-0 with 19 KO’s over the next five years.

He would get his first crack at a world title when he met Hideyuki Ohashi of Japan. They met on 10/05/90 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan and it was for the WBC Strawweight Championship. Lopez dominated from the opening bell and would win the title via fifth round TKO. He was now a world champion and it was the start of one of the most dominant reigns in boxing history.

He would successfully defend his title nine times over then next three years, seven by KO. Hungry for national exposure, Lopez would sign with promoter Don King in 1994 and he began fighting on major cards in the U.S. 1996 would be a big year for Lopez as he began to appear regularly on Showtime televised cards, scoring 4 big knockout wins. Two of those knockouts made Showtime Championship Boxing’s top 10 knockouts of 1996.

Talks began for a major fight with Light Flyweight champion Michael Carbajal, however the fight never came to fruition. Instead Lopez decided to unify the 105 lb division and would score an impressive fifth round TKO over Alex Sanchez at Madison Square Garden to claim the WBO Minimumweight Title in August of 1997. It would be in his 48th bout that Lopez would experience the only blemish on his record when he met WBA Minimumweight champion Rosendo Alvarez of Nicaragua.

They met on 03/07/98 in front of a huge crowd at the Plaza De Toros in Mexico City, Mexico and it was the co-feature for the huge Super Lightweight clash between the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez vs fellow forgotten legend Miguel Angel Gonzalez. Alvarez came in with an unbeaten record of 24-0 and would prove to be a tough challenge for Lopez. In the second, Alvarez would land a hard straight right hand that put Lopez down for the first time in his career. Lopez would get up off the canvas and weather Alvarez’s relentless pressure to make it out of the round.

The fight would turn into an exciting back and forth war over the next five rounds. Showtime commentator Bobby Czyz said that the fight was a 105 lb version of Leonard vs Hearns. In round seven, both men collided heads, causing a huge cut over Lopez’s right eye. Due to the WBC rule, the uncut fighter gets deducted a point when a headbutt occurs, therefore Alvarez would lose a point.

In between rounds, the fight would be stopped by the ringside doctor, causing the fight to go to the scorecards. One judge had the fight scored 67-64 for Lopez. Another judge had it scored 68-63 for Alvarez and the final judge had it scored 66-66, making the fight a technical draw. The difference maker in this bout was the point deduction in the seventh round for Alvarez. It was an unpopular decision and the fans began throwing debris into the ring. It was a disappointing end to a great fight and it was the toughest test of Ricardo Lopez’s career. A rematch was inevitable and Lopez and Alvarez would meet again eight months later in Las Vegas.

Alvarez was not able to make the contracted weight of 105 lbs and would lose his title on the scales in what was one of the first times that a title was lost on the scales. The fight would still take place and Lopez would exact revenge on Alvarez, winning a 12 round split decision, claiming his third world title. With nothing more to prove in the Strawweight division, Lopez would move up to the Light Flyweight division and 11 months later would claim the IBF title with a 12 round unanimous decision over Will Grigsby.

He would successfully defend his title twice over the next two years and would then call it a career. His record as a professional stands at 51-0-1 with 38 KO’s, having never been defeated as an amateur or professional. He remains tied with Joe Louis for the most successful title defenses without a loss at 26. Lopez would be inducted into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame in Canastota, NY in 2007.

What would it have been like had he fought some of the elite in the smaller weight classes such as Michael Carbajal, Johnny Tapia or Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson and did his loyalty to promoter Don King prevent these bouts from happening? Did the fact that he fought in the smallest weight class prevent him from getting the notoriety that he deserved. In the end it was the most dominant career in boxing that the world has forgotten about.

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Lucas Browne: “Wilder Is Lucky He Faced Molina. I Would Have Knocked Wilder Out”

LUCAS “BIG DADDY” BROWNE believes he would have ripped the WBC heavyweight crown away from Deontay Wilder if he had been the American’s opponent this weekend.
 
Wilder made the first defence of his crown against the unheralded Eric Molina on Saturday night and, despite scoring multiple knockdowns before stopping the Texan in the ninth, it was far from a vintage performance.
 
Molina wobbled the champion with a left hook in the third and attacked his body well in the sixth and seventh before his resolve eventually gave out.
 
While Browne is the mandatory contender with the WBA and remains on course to face Ruslan Chagaev, Wilder is a fighter on his radar and after Saturday’s showing, he’s confident he can knock the Alabama-native out.
 
“Eric Molina put up a better showing than most expected and I take my hat off to him for that, but let’s be honest, he was handpicked to make Wilder look good,” Browne said.
 
“If I’d have hit Wilder with a hook like that one in the third, he wouldn’t have stayed on his feet. I think he’d probably still be asleep now.
 
“There’s been a lot of hype around Deontay. People have said he’s the saviour of heavyweight boxing, but that performance just made me sad.
 
“I really can’t see what everyone sees in him. Every time I watch him, I spot flaws that I could exploit. He was lucky he was in with Molina because if he was facing me, he’d have been knocked cold.”
 
Matt Clark, Browne’s co-manager, added: “While we don’t want to take Lucas’s focus off Chagaev, we’d take a fight with Wilder in a heartbeat.
 
“Wilder has built up this big reputation without being put in tough fights. Last night was another example of him looking ordinary against an opponent he was supposed to blast out.
 
“That left hook that wobbled him didn’t even look that hard to me. There is no doubt in my mind that if Lucas had have been facing Wilder instead of Eric Molina, he’d be heavyweight champion.”

Seconds Out Promotions Inks Former Don King Light Heavyweight Marcus Oliveira

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Tony Grygelko of Minneapolis-based Seconds Out Promotions proudly announces the signing of hard-punching former world-title challenger Marcus Oliveira to a promotional contract.
 
From Menominee, Wisconsin, and of Menominee Nation, native, heritage, 36-year-old Oliveira (25-1-1, 20 KOs) is also a former NABF and WBA Fedebol Light Heavyweight Champion.

The promotional agreement is a reunion of sorts, as Grygelko was Oliveira’s promoter for much of his early professional career.
 
“I used to promote Marcus, prior to him signing with Don King, and it’s truly an honor to be able to promote him again and help position him for another world title shot,” said Tony Grygelko. “It seems that with his previous promoter not actively seeking fights, and his loss to Jurgen Brähmer, that Marcus has been written off, but the truth is he is extremely focused and has a burning desire to show all his fans that he has the talent to win a World Championship! He plans to shake off some ring rust off with a couple fights and then he’ll be looking to go after some of the big names in the division, such as Andrezj Fonfara, Sergey Kovalev, Bernard Hopkins, and a rematch with Brähmer.”
 
Oliveira, who was a heavily decorated amateur boxer before turning pro in 2006, said he feels his career had been stalled by an agreement he signed with another promoter. He says he happy to now be free of that contract and back to working with someone he trusts.
 
“I was looking for someone who could get me to the next level in my career and Tony has already done that for quite a few guys, so it was an easy decision,” said Oliveira. “He’s always straight-up with me and treats me well. I have a great relationship with him. I’m very happy about this new direction.”
 
“We’re very excited to be back working with Tony,” said Oliveira’s Manager, Douglas Ward from the Underground Boxing Company. “It’s good to be working with a promoter that has our same set of goals.”
 
Oliveira joins a Seconds Out stable that also includes Carson Jones and recent world-title challenger Caleb Truax.

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