ABRAHAM LOPEZ vs LOPEZ — Professional boxers are unique.
They walk into street corner boxing gyms with a look in their eyes that spells hunger in one form or another. If they were all the chatty type they could tell you stories that make you shakily cringe or cry big peanut sized tears.
It’s not like MMA where most of the fighters are middle class and can easily pay a couple of hundred dollars to martial art studios for lessons in jujitsu or striking techniques. Boxers are usually from neighborhoods where two meals a day are not guaranteed. It’s a dangerous unforgiving world.
Abraham Lopez is the exception. He’s the George Lopez Show kind of middle class where manicured lawns and health insurance are part of life.
The undefeated Lopez (21-0-1, 15 KOs) of La Puente, Calif. meets Mexico’s Sergio Lopez (21-11-1, 14 KOs) on Friday, Dec. 2, at Belasco Theater in downtown L.A. The Golden Boy Promotions show will be televised on www.RingTV.Live and Estrella TV.
Abraham Lopez comes from a cozy middle class home and if you look closely he’s one of the most happy-go-lucky guys in the sport. He’s more likely to be working in a law office or medical practice than inside a boxing ring trading blows with fighters looking to tear his head off.
Coincidentally, he’s a respiratory therapist. But for now, boxing remains his only job. He’s lived most of his life in La Puente with his mother working in a pharmacy and his father a former machinist now working as a driver. It’s a middle class world that usually doesn’t produce prizefighters, but when it happens, look out.
Back in the early 1990s there was another middle class boxer by the name of Marco Antonio Barrera who made quite a living in the world of boxing. His parents worked in the Mexican film industry and Barrera was a law student. The black haired Barrera proceeded to win world titles as a super bantamweight, featherweight and super featherweight. It can be done.
“My mom wants me to return to my old job as a therapist,” said Lopez. “My dad tells me to ‘do what I want, you’re a man’.”
The La Puente prizefighter has been lacing up the gloves for more than eight years as a pro and several more as an amateur. He doesn’t need boxing to provide a livelihood or prove his machismo. But inside the boxing ring he seems to change into another person.
Lopez was in a nip and tuck battle this past June against East L.A.’s undefeated Julian Ramirez for the vacant NABA featherweight title. A large crowd at the StubHub Center saw both Southern Californians exchange some vicious combinations for the first few rounds. Then a sudden change took place with Lopez taking an extra step back and using an educated jab to keep distance. After 10 rounds in a very close battle the judges scored it for Lopez.
“You learn from every fight. I learn about distance,” said Lopez, 29. “Sometimes I have to be the aggressor. Sometimes I have to be defensive. But hopefully the learning keeps continuing.”
Every fight presents obstacles you just cannot predict.
Last year, at Fantasy Springs Casino, the featherweight from La Puente was matched against a tough fighter from Ghana named Alfred Tetteh. The African boxer out of Washington D.C. proved to be quick, strong and skilled. It was an even match until a fifth round exchange saw Lopez land a blow into Tetteh’s armpit as he was in motion to fire a blow too. Down he went and never could get up in time. Who knew you could knock a guy out with a blow to the arm pit?
It’s all been a learning experience for the boxer from middle class Southern California.
“I want to be a world champion. At least I want to try,” says Lopez. “I’ll take on anybody at 126 pounds. Hopefully winning the NABA got me a little closer to a world title.”
Colombian bantamweight Oscar Negrete (14-0) meets Mexico’s Raul Hidalgo (26-14), a C-level fighter who’s familiar to Los Angeles boxing fans. In the past he lasted 10 rounds with Julian Ramirez but was stopped by Jojo Diaz and Jessie Magdaleno.
Negrete has improved each and every time but during 2016 he’s been impressive with a better understanding of timing and separation. Instead of putting his head down and firing nonstop Negrete has shown an understanding that providing the judges with a better viewpoint of his skills is important. It also helps in avoiding head butts.
Tall L.A. featherweight Edgar Valerio (8-0) returns after suffering some nasty cuts due to accidental head butts this past September. Valerio meets Lupe De Leon (9-14), a veteran from Texas who has fought young killers one after another. De Leon, 37, has made a career of fighting guys like Jerry Belmontes, Casey Ramos, Ronny Rios and Gary Russell Jr. when they were young and undefeated. He defeated Derrick Wilson who defeated Charles Huerta.
Angel Bojado (1-0) returns to face Abraham Calderon Ruiz (1-3) in a super welterweight fight. It’s been four months since the younger brother of Panchito Bojado last entered the boxing ring. In his pro debut he seemed to have trouble with his timing and with stamina. But like his brother, he seems to be a naturally gifted boxer.
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