HE might never be appreciated the same way as his more mainstream counterparts but don’t let that fool you.
Mexican great Ricardo “Finito” Lopez went through 52 fights unbeaten in a Hall of Fame career that stood out not just because of his dominance but because of the failure of nations around the world to produce a strawweight who could compete with the excellent little champion.
Lopez was a craftsman who could box wonderfully and fight when he had to. He did everything well and had no apparent chinks in his armour, capturing the WBC, WBA and WBO titles at strawweight and the IBF crown at light-flyweight.
As an 18-year-old he turned pro in 1985 and, like many young Mexican pros who punch for pay so young, and therefore do not build serious amateur credentials, he learned his trade by fighting regularly in the competitive Mexican arenas.
His power marked him out as one to watch as only one of his first nine opponents made it beyond round three.
He went the 10-round distance a few times in the late 1980s, building experience all the while, and in 1990 he fought outside Mexico for the first time, travelling to Japan to relieve Hideyuki Ohashi of his WBC title.
The little marvel then spent the remainder of the decade bossing the division (making 21 defences), generally tucked away on the undercards of big pay-per-views in the USA, often in Las Vegas. But he travelled, defending in South Korea, Thailand, Japan and at home in Mexico.
In fact, it was at the famous bull-ring in Mexico City where the only blot on his copybook occurred.
He had been floored (in the second round) by 24-0 Rosendo Alvarez and suffered a cut above his right eye, causing the fight to be halted. With the scorecards split (one for Lopez, one for Alvarez and one draw) at the time of the stoppage, Lopez was in the toughest fight of his eight-year reign. When the end came, in round eight, and a technical draw was announced, Ricardo did what true champions do. He fought Alvarez again and won a split decision.
But the signs of decay were there. Lopez was, after all, 32 – old for a little man in this business.
He moved up and won the IBF light-fly title in his next fight, making two defences before packing it in.
His last fight, an eighth-round stoppage victory of Zolani Petelo in Madison Square Garden on the Felix Trinidad-Bernard Hopkins bill, saw him bow out in style but he waited until he was home to announce his retirement from boxing in front of his own fans on the 12th anniversary of his first world title fight.
Lopez did not get the credit he deserved and coming from a country that has produced some of boxing’s greatest, most colourful champions, that might always be the case. But aficionados who watched him at his sharp, accurate best will always be grateful for being able to say they saw a genius at work.
LIFE AFTER BOXING
LOPEZ now works as a boxing broadcaster for the Mexican Televisa network.
His son, Alonso López (born 1986), is a fledgling professional boxer and like his father competes in the flyweight division.
UPON hearing of his induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, Lopez – who was enshrined in the same class as Roberto Duran and Pernell Whitaker – said: “My induction confirms to me that I took the right decisions in my career. Hard work now bears fruit in the form of this very high honour which I will share with the best men in the history of boxing. And for that, I am both grateful and proud.”
Born July 25, 1966 in Cuernavaca, Mexico Wins 51 Knockouts 38 Losses 0 Draws 1 Best win Saman Sorjaturong w rsf 2 Worst loss n/a Pros Smooth boxing, chin, power Cons Lack of star power meant he had to fight in opponent’s backyard