Too often in this great sport we find ourselves focused on the politics and business ventures involved, rather than the brave warriors who lace up the gloves and put their health and livelihood on the line. More often still are the accomplishments and battles of some of these combatants overlooked due to fighting at a lower weight class than your Mike Tyson’s and Ray Leonard’s. When boxing fans think of undefeated icons of the past, a few names come to mind, Rocky Marciano (49-0), Joe Calzaghe (46-0) but few people bring up Ricardo Lopez (51-0-1). Though well known to the hardcore boxing fan, for the casual fan I want to shine a brief light on the accomplishments of the former undisputed Minimumweight (Strawweight) Champion Ricardo “El Finito” Lopez.
Lopez started boxing at an early age and ended an accomplished, undefeated amateur career in 1985 after winning four consecutive Guantes de Oro de México (Mexican Golden Gloves) Championships (1981-1985). With the wealth of amateur experience, and manager Cullo Hernandez, Lopez started his first of many wins on January 18, 1985 with a third round knockout win over a fighter named Rogelio Hernandez. He amassed 23 wins with 17 knockouts before receiving an opportunity at a title, the WBC Continental Americas belt. That fight was held on November 7, 1989 against an experienced Rey Hernandez and ended with a 12th round knockout for Lopez.
Fast forward to October 25, 1990, after two successful defenses of his Continental Americas belt, Lopez was to go against his most accomplished opponent yet, the WBC Minimumweight World Champion, Hideyuki Ohashi. Ohashi was by no means a perfect boxer, with losses already in his past, but had experience at the world level that Lopez was lacking. El Finito rose to the occasion, showing his boxing superiority by taking the belt by a 5th round TKO, giving him his first world title.
After 20 successful title defenses, and obtaining the WBO World belt along the way at Madison Square Garden, Lopez was given the only blemish on his record on March 7, 1998 in front his home crowd in Mexico. The defense was against the game Rosendo Alvarez. After a very competitive fight, the match was ordered to go to the score cards by the ring doctor in the 8th due to a head butt. The result being a technical draw, and the only recorded fight in El Finito’s career (amateur of professional) not ending in a win. More recently in the boxing world, and I’m not pointing any fingers, we see boxers (be it due to their personal feelings, or their managements decision) not correcting the question mark by their name. Instead of settling instances of close calls, we see them move on and leave the asterisk there. This was not the case with Lopez whose immediate next fight was a rematch against Alvarez to settle the question. In another close match, Lopez had his hand raised with a split decision victory, marking another successful title defense, and his last fight at Minimumweight. He fought three more times in his career, winning and defending the IBF World Light Flyweight Title.
On November 28th2002, Ricardo “El Finito” Lopez announced his retirement from the sport at a press conference, ending his career with a record of 51-0-1, honors as one of the best to ever lace up the gloves and the first boxer to retire with both an undefeated amateur and professional career. In 2007, Lopez was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and World Boxing Hall of Fame, his first year of eligibility. Lopez now works with a boxing broadcaster on the Mexican television network, and assists with the training of some new prospects of the sport. I think it will be interesting to see if the former champion can help develop new champions for the future.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article, and I intend to write more about former greats in the future. Please follow me on Twitter @TheGreatToddman, I would love to hear you opinions and talk boxing with you.