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Holmes, Finito Make World Boxing H.O.F.

BY David A. Avila ON June 05, 2007
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The World Boxing Hall of Fame, whose headquarters are in Los Angeles, released a list of the new inductees for the class of 2007 including Larry Holmes, Ricardo “Finito” Lopez and George Benton.

Yes, it must be a surprise to see Holmes because most boxing fans and experts thought the Easton Assassin was already in the Hall of Fame. His last fight was in 2002 against Butterbean when he captured a unanimous decision after 10 rounds.

Holmes is one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Few other fighters entered the ring with his combination of speed, skill, intelligence and mental toughness. Most experts believe he could have run roughshod over any heavyweight era--he was that good.

A number of his fights became classics including bouts against Ken Norton, Ernie Shavers, Mike Weaver, Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, Gerry Cooney, Mike Tyson and of course Muhammad Ali in the twilight of his career.

That stunning jab is what most people remember when Holmes is mentioned, along with defending the heavyweight title successfully 19 times. Can you imagine anyone today defending the title 19 times against all comers?

Mexico’s Finito Lopez retired undefeated in his career while capturing the WBC, IBF and WBO titles along the way in the minimum weight and junior flyweight divisions.

Trained by Nacho Beristain, he was picture perfect in everything he did inside the ring and was a master boxer who could figure out weaknesses quickly and exploit them with the precision of a surgeon. The closest Lopez came to a loss was against Rosendo “El Bufalo” Alvarez in 1998 when he was dropped by the Nicaraguan for the first and last time in his career.

He defended his titles successfully 25 times.

An example of Lopez’s skill and precision was probably best exemplified when he fought Ratanapol Vorapin at Las Vegas in 2000. That night Lopez put his guard up high and looked over his southpaw opponent carefully. In the second round he suddenly flashed forward with an uppercut and knocked out Vorapin with one punch.

“He must have blinked his eye and Finito caught him,” said Shane Mosley, who watched the fight with interest. Ironically Vorapin has not lost since facing Lopez seven years ago.

Lopez fought one more time in New York City on the under card for the Bernard Hopkins-Felix Trinidad fight that took place a few weeks after the 9-11 tragedy. On that night he faced South Africa’s Zolani Petelo at Madison Square Garden. After eight rounds of technical proficiency Lopez figured out the southpaw’s weaknesses and forced referee Arthur Mercante (his last bout as a referee at 81 years old) to stop the fight for a technical knockout victory in the eighth. The knowledgeable fans cheered lustily for Lopez.

After the fight Lopez indicated that it might have been his last fight and it was.

Also on the new list of inductees is famed trainer and former boxer George Benton whose career as a stylish boxer was followed by his ability to hone champions. Among those he trained were Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor and Evander Holyfield.

Other inductees that will be enshrined this coming October are Gerald McClellan, Yaqui Lopez, Efren Torres, Dick Sadler, Lily Rodriguez, Jose Vazquez De La Torre, Steve Alpert and referee Joe Cortez.

The World Boxing Hall of Fame is not associated with the International Boxing Hall of Fame based in New York. But the California organization is the older of the two.

Rocky VI star back in ring

Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver, who played a starring role in Rocky VI, returns to the ring after losing his light heavyweight championship to Bernard Hopkins a year ago. He faces Albanian Elvir Muriqi in an IBO light heavyweight title fight at Hartford, Conn. on Saturday. It will be televised on Showtime.

“It feels like a rebirth. I had to step away from the game,” said Tarver, 38, who was seeking to move into the heavyweight ranks prior to his big loss to Hopkins. “Every fight is a big deal.

Muriqi has never fought more than eight rounds in his career.

“I will actually surprise a few people,” said Muriqi who now lives in New York City. “I’ve been waiting all of my life for this kind of moment.”

Harrah’s Rincon Casino fight card

Ringside Ticket Promotion presents a fight card that pits Tyrone Harris against Puerto Rico’s Pascali Adorno in a lightweight bout on June 15. Also on the fight card will be Elizabeth Cervantes against Joann Chogoalla. The fight card begins at 7 p.m. For tickets or information call (877) 777-2457.

San Manuel fight card

Middleweight Larry Mosely faces Francisco Rincon for the GBU title at San Manuel Casino on June 21. The card is promoted by Ringside Ticket Promotions. For more information call (800) 359-2464.

Montebello fight card

All Star Boxing presents Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis against Francisco Rios Gil in an eight-round junior welterweight contest at the Quiet Cannon golf course on June 22. Also on the card will be undefeated phenom John Molina in a six-round lightweight bout. In a separate bout, Riverside boxer Hector Serrano will also be on the fight card. For tickets or information call (323) 781-4871.

Help for Winky Wright

Super middleweight Winky Wright is preparing for his big showdown with light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins that takes place in Las Vegas on July 21. One super middleweight who feels he would make a perfect sparring partner for Wright is Leroy Brooks, the tall fighter out of New York City. At 6-1 in height and with a long reach Brooks says he’s perfect to imitate Hopkins.

If you want to contact Brooks his e-mail is: LeroyBrooks32@yahoo.com

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