Best I faced: Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez is universally recognized as the greatest strawweight of all time. Incredibly, he never lost an amateur or pro bout.
Lopez, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2007 after compiling a 50-0-1 (38 knockouts) pro record, held three of the four sanctioning body titles at 105 pounds before winning a version of the junior flyweight world title.
Lopez enjoyed a healthy childhood, growing up an hour-and-a-half south of Mexico City in Cuernavaca, Morelos.
“I had the blessings of my parents,” Lopez told RingTV.com through Memo Schultz of Televisa. “I didn’t want for anything. I took up boxing because my father really liked boxing and I wanted to demonstrate to my father I could have a good career in boxing.”
He was able to do that, making a division record 21 defenses (of the WBC strawweight belt) holding the WBC title for nine years – both division records.
Lopez’s ascension to the WBC throne came on Oct. 25, 1990, when he unseated Hideyuki Ohashi in five one-sided rounds at the famed Korakuen Hall, Tokyo. On the same day on the other side of the world in Las Vegas, Evander Holyfield stopped Buster Douglas for the unified heavyweight titles.
Early in his reign Lopez often fought overseas, beating the best Asia had to offer. “Finito” fought everyone he could at strawweight, he holds wins among others over future junior flyweight champ Saman Sorjaturong (TKO 2), future WBO strawweight title Kermin Guardia (PTS 12) and perenial contender Ala Villamor (KO 8).
In the summer of 1997, Lopez bashed up Puerto Rican WBO champion Alex Sanchez in a unification bout that took place on the undercard of Felix Trinidad-Troy Waters at the famed Madison Square Garden.
He met unbeaten rival Rosendo Alvarez in early 1998, in Mexico City (on the undercard of iconic-Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez’s fight against Miguel Angel Gonzalez) in front of around 50,000 fans.
The Nicaraguan WBA champion gave Lopez all he could handle in the division’s first superfight.
The Mexican was on the canvas for the only time in his career in the second round, before an untimely clash of heads left Lopez unable to continue. The fight went to the scorecards and the bout was declared a draw.
The rematch took place several months later in the fall of ’98. At the weigh in Alvarez came in three-and-a-quarter pounds above the 105-pound division limit. When Alvarez was unable to shed the weight, Lopez’ father advised his son to cancel the fight. However, to the Mexican’s enormous credit he went against his father’s wishes and won a hard fought 12-round split decision, unifying his WBC belt with the WBA championship in what is widely considered his defining fight. It is believed for this fight Lopez earned a career high $150,000.
Lopez vacated his belts and headed three-pounds north, where he bested Will Grigsby to win the IBF belt. Although Lopez fought infrequently and was winding down his career, he beat long-time strawweight rival Ratanapol Sor Vorapin easily before bringing down the curtain on his career against Zolani Petelo on the highly charged Felix Trinidad-Bernard Hopkins undercard again at Madison Square Garden in September 2001.
He officially retired on Nov. 28, 2002.
Interestingly, Lopez says his proudest moment was when he retired as an unbeaten fighter, which meant everything to him. Lopez was named 70th best fighter of the past 80 years by THE RING magazine in 2002.
His trainer Nacho Beristain followed him into the IBHOF in 2011.
A statue was erected of him in Atizapan de Zaragoza, State of Mexico and unveiled on March 30, 2009.
Lopez, now 50, has been married for over 25 years and has five children. He remains involved in boxing working as an analyst for Mexican TV channel Televisa. He is also a highly thought of motivational speaker in his homeland and throughout Latin America.
Lopez graciously took time to speak to RingTV.com about the best he fought in 10 key categories:
Hideyuki Ohashi: He had a good jab, it was strong.
Andy Tabanas: He was moving a lot, all the time.
Kermin Guardia: He was a southpaw and very fast.
Will Grigsby: I won the junior flyweight title (from him), but he didn’t want to exchange punches, he was moving a lot.
Nobody: Me. I didn’t respect anyone. I didn’t look at them like that. Nobody stood out.
Rosendo Alvarez: I received all his punches and I stood up to them, he was very strong.
Alvarez: He had a good chin; he was very strong and difficult.
Saman Sorjaturong: He had a very strong punch. When he hit me it hurt. I won in two rounds; he retired Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez.
Pretty Boy Lucas: He was the most skilful, his technique (was good).
Alvarez/Kwang-Soo Oh and Toto Pongsawang: I fought 11 world champions, I respected everyone. It’s difficult but it’s between those three.
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