Eddie ‘The Animal’ Lopez, who once drew with Leon Spinks, dies
Eddie “The Animal” Lopez, a Los Angeles-area heavyweight who once drew with Leon Spinks, died on Friday, according to friends.
Lopez was found dead in his room by his daughter, with whom the ex-fighter lived in East L.A. He had problems with drugs for much of his life but it’s not clear whether that led directly to his death. He was believed to be in his early 60s.
Lopez (25-4-2, 17 knockouts) was a good-looking, popular figure and one of the best Mexican-American heavyweights ever. He turned pro in 1976 and fought until 1984, losing to big-name opponents John Tate, Gerry Cooney and Tony Tucker but drawing with Spinks.
The Spinks fight occurred in March 1980, 16 months after Spinks lost the heavyweight title to Muhammad Ali in their rematch. Some believe Lopez deserved the decision.
“He was a hell of a fighter,” said former fighter and friend Ruben Castillo. “He came right at you, he would try to take your head off. That’s all that mattered to him. And he was a super, super, super guy.”
Lopez became close to Carol Steindler, who once ran the Main Street Gym in L.A.
“Eddie could’ve had a great career but he was in and out of jail and took drugs. He was in that element and couldn’t get out of it,” she said.
John Montes, another former fighter, said Lopez was involved with the wrong people much of his life – he was a member of one of the biggest gangs in East L.A. – and didn’t always respect authority but was well liked in the boxing community.
“He had a habit of hanging out with the wrong crowd,” Montes said. “He got caught up in that, in drugs. No one could tell him what to do. He was that type of person.
“He was a great guy, though. And a good fighter. He was a little like Chris Arreola as a fighter. He did what he wanted to do. It’s amazing he accomplished what he accomplished given how he lived his life.”