Battle-tested Adam Lopez finally faces Luis Coria tonight
The return of live-televised boxing on Tuesday, courtesy of Top Rank, ESPN and the Nevada Athletic Commission, did not yield prime HBO Boxing After Dark-level competition. Surprise, surprise, Boxing Twitter.
There’s a pandemic going on, there isn’t a huge budget for this provisional twice-a-week series or a large pool of readily available boxing talent to pull from, and the lineup for the inaugural show was hampered by a positive COVID-19 test (Mikaela Mayer, which nixed the co-featured bout) and the original opponent (Rafael Rivera) for headliner Shakur Stevenson falling out a couple weeks before the show.
So, no, y’all didn’t get Gatti vs. Ward with Stevenson vs. Felix Caraballo.
However, tonight’s Top Rank/ESPN offering looks more competitive on paper. The junior lightweight main event between former 122-pound titleholder Jessie Magdaleno and tough gatekeeper Yenifel Vicente is a solid matchup, but the featherweight co-feature between Adam Lopez and Luis Coria should be the fight of the night.
Lopez (13-2, 6 KOs) is a smart boxer-technician trained by hall of famer Buddy McGirt. Coria (12-2, 7 KOs) is bold boxer-puncher trained by former Trainer of the Year Robert Garcia.
Both have suffered setbacks, but it’s Lopez, a 24-year-old native of Glendale, California, who is more tested having faced much-better competition in his 15 pro bouts, including unbeaten Stephen Fulton (currently No. 10 in The Ring’s junior featherweight rankings) and Jean Carlos Rivera (15-1 at the time they fought).
Lopez is also the better known of the two young guns. He’s the son the late Hector Lopez, a former contender from featherweight to junior welterweight, and one of the “breakout” fighters of 2019. However, unlike prospect/contenders such as Stevenson, Vergil Ortiz Jr., Xu Can and Ryan Garcia, Lopez raised his stature in the sport with a loss.
If you wondered if that was still possible in boxing, it is when you step up in weight to take on an undefeated former world titleholder on 24-hour’s notice and you give the huge odds favorite hell. That’s what Lopez did against Oscar Valdez (27-0, 21 KOs) on November 30.
Lopez agreed to fight Valdez after the two-time Mexican Olympian’s original opponent (Adrian Gutierrez) weighed in heavy. He was scheduled to face Coria on the undercard of Valdez-Gutierrez.
The bigger and vastly more experienced fighter, eventually wore Lopez down to a seventh-round stoppage but “Bluenose” boxed very well and even scored a knockdown in Round 2.
Hector Lopez, who took on eight undefeated fighters – including hall-of-famer Kostya Tszyu and former lightweight champ Miguel Angel Gonzalez – during his 15-year pro career (1985-2000), would have been proud of his son’s performance and willingness to face stiff opposition (Adam has faced seven unbeaten fighters in just 15 pro bouts).
Lopez says his father, who passed away in 2011, still inspires him.
“I’ve got a lot of my dad’s fights on DVD. KCAL (an independent Los Angeles network that used to televise Forum Boxing promotions) made it for me and my brother after my dad died. It’s got old Forum Boxing fights, bouts from the Stroh’s featherweight tournament, which he won, and a bunch of his interviews on it,” Lopez told The Ring last Friday.
“I love watching his fights, but I get more inspired watching the interviews. There’s one interview where he’s recalling his days of being an amateur boxer but also in a gang, maybe when he was 15 years old, the same age I was when he died, and he’s telling his homeboys that he’s aiming for the 1984 Olympic Games.
“They said ‘Boxing,’ you’re crazy.’ They called him ‘Boxing,’ that was his street nickname. ‘Boxing, there’s no way you’ll make it.’ He told them, ‘Well, maybe I am crazy, but I’m going to compete in the Olympics.’”
Hector Lopez realized his dream as a member of Mexico’s Olympic team and earned a silver medal at the Los Angeles Games.
According to Adam, his father made it to the bantamweight finals without working with the Mexican coaches and team. He did not get along with the head coach of the Mexican squad.
“He was in his hometown, he was used to doing things his way and didn’t listen to authority very well,” said Lopez, “so, he left the Olympic training facility and trained on his own, hooking up with (future pro manager) Gordon Wheeler, Ben Lira, Dub Huntley and other L.A. trainers at all his old gyms. The Mexican coaches didn’t even work his corner in the finals.”
Adam is like his father when it comes to his boxing ability and self-belief in the ring, but he’s not the “wild child” his old man was out of the ring and he’s less of a loner, which is a good thing because he’s got a good team around him now. He signed on with Sheer Sports Management just three weeks before getting the Valdez opportunity, which led to just two weeks with McGirt (in Florida).
Now he’s had time to gel with his management-trainer partnership (which includes assistant trainer Ivan Castaneda), even during the pandemic lockdown.
Lopez, who remained in shape during the quarantine, says he got word of Top Rank’s planned June shows two months ago and began real training in a gym four weeks ago, sparring during the last three weeks, “almost every day,” he added, “we got to get it in.”
Last Thursday was his last day of sparring. He did eight rounds and was just eight pounds away from the featherweight limit. Among the rotation of five or six sparring partners during the abbreviated camp was Miguel Contreras (10-0, 6 KOs), a lightweight prospect from Bakersfield, California.
“Miguel is scheduled to be the first TV bout on the June 23 show. The weekend after my fight, I’ll be right back in the gym to help him prepare. He helped me out, so I’m gonna help him out.”
Tonight, Lopez will help his own career if he defeats Coria, who he was scheduled to face in April before COVID-19 cleared the boxing schedule.
Going forward, he says he’s targeted three Top Rank-promoted former Olympians: Michael Conlan, Valdez and Stevenson. Lopezes don’t shy away from challenges.