Boxing is Mexico’s most successful sport, having produced over 100 world champions and 12 Olympic gold medalists. Of all those great fighters there is one man that is considered by many experts as one of the greatest fighters ever to lace up a pair of globes. That man is none other than Ricardo “Finito” Lopez Vera.
Although he was as successful in the ring as countryman Julio Cesar Chaves Sr., he was never given the same level of popularity for the simple reason that he fought at the Minimumweight division of 103 lbs., a division that not many are aware of. Regardless it was impossible to ignore the skills, knockout power, ring intelligence and undefeated record that Lopez had during a truly great 16-year career
Lopez first fell in love with boxing by watching fights on television with his dad on Saturday nights. Such fighters as Jose “Mantequilla” Napoles and images of red globes, bloody faces and one man being able to hit another without getting hit back was something that fascinated Lopez. Those became the men he aspired to be like.
He was seven years old the first time he ever walked into a boxing gym and minutes later, after seeing a sparring session, he approached a trainer wrapping another kid’s hands and demanded to fight him. That became his first time stepping into a boxing ring. From that day on boxing became his passion and he did everything he could to achieve his ultimate goal of becoming a world champion. He even drank five raw eggs to imitate Rocky Balboa from the popular Rocky movies of that time.
Lopez’s first big stage fight was at the 1981 Mexican Golden Globes in which he won the Gold Medal and followed it by winning four more consecutive Golden Globes titles. He then got the opportunity to be managed by legendary boxing manager Cullo Hernandez, who played a major part in the success of his entrance into the pros.
Lopez would go on to win his first world title in Japan on October 25, 1991 after beating Hideyuki Ohashi for the WBC Minimumweight Title. That same year Hernandez passed away and Lopez would be the last champion he would ever manage, a good note to end a legendary career and jump start another amazing one. Lopez would be left in the hands of respected trainer Ignacio Beristáin.
It is usually said that “It's hard getting to the top, but it's even harder to stay on it” and Lopez made sure to stay on top by having 22 title defences against strong opposition. Of all his title defences Lopez’s most competitive fight was his first bout against Rosendo Alvarez, in which, for the first time, he didn’t see his hands being raised. The fight was a draw and the closest one of Finito’s career. He would rematch Alvarez in Las Vegas eight months later and win with an outstanding performance.
In 1999, at the age of 33 and towards the end of his career, Lopez would make a small jump into the 108 flyweight division, in which he defeated Will Grigsby for the IBF title. He would go on to fight two more times and ended his career with a knockout win over Zolani Petelo. Lopez retired with a perfect professional record of 51 wins (KO 38) and zero losses—a record that can truly be defined as one of the greatest in boxing.
Lopez's career is not just impressive because he retired undefeated. That's obviously a great part of it, but most people remember him for his dedication to the sport of boxing, his discipline in the ring, the quality and beauty of his skills, the many title defences he had and the great combination of punching power and technical excellence he had in the ring—hence his nickname “Finito,” meaning "Finest.”
Unlike many all-time greats in the sport of boxing, Lopez’s career ended on a good note, and most importantly his reputation continues to this day. Now at the age of 45 he enjoys the benefits of his hard work and the admiration of his many fans. Lopez was a one-of-a-kind boxer and one that many young fighters should look to for inspiration.
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