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Making the Rounds: Adam Lopez gaining momentum; trouble between Ryan Garcia, Golden Boy

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
A weekly look at boxing's hottest topics.

Lopez thrills in win vs. Coria

Adam Lopez had no idea when he was cutting weight the day after Thanksgiving for a fight at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas how significantly his world would change in a few short hours.

But a bad, nearly unconscionable, mistake by Andres Gutierrez gave Lopez an opportunity that just may have opened the door to stardom for the budding action star from Glendale, California.

When Gutierrez missed weight by 11 pounds for a bout against former WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez, Top Rank turned to Lopez to take his place in a super featherweight eliminator.

“When people heard that I was fighting Oscar Valdez, they assumed he would walk right through me,” said Lopez, the son of the late Hector Lopez, a silver medalist at bantamweight for Mexico at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. 

Valdez did not walk through Lopez; he nearly lost to him. Lopez dropped him in the second and fought a compelling, spirited bout against a guy who’d held a featherweight belt in his previous outing.

That fight established to those who were in attendance or who had seen it on television that Lopez had the ability to be a factor in the sport. Valdez stopped him in the seventh round, but it was a back-and-forth battle that was filled with action.

“That fight put me on the map,” Lopez said. “My name had bounced around the sport for a long time, but people for whatever reason weren’t really giving me the respect. But I went in there against a two-time Olympian and a former champion and even though I was going through some things with my former manager and only had three weeks to train for the fight, I think I proved I can hang with the best in the world.”

Adam Lopez celebrates after earning a 10-round majority decision over Louie Coria on June 11 at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

He proved that a second time last week, when he outlasted Luis Coria in an entertaining slugfest at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Both men gave as good as they took, and Lopez delivered so much action that Top Rank publicist Evan Korn dubbed him “The Glendale Gatti,” in homage to the late Hall of Famer Arturo Gatti. 

Lopez started slowly and said he had a tough time adjusting after his schedule had been torn apart by the coronavirus pandemic. But once he got untracked, he fought beautifully.

“I think the [pandemic] played a factor in it taking me a while to get rolling,” Lopez said. “I rushed into training. I heard about the fight four weeks out and I rushed myself. I sparred every day just to get the rounds in.

“I didn’t feel 100 percent sharp and I was getting hit more than I normally do, though you have to give him credit for that. He fought hard and came to win. But I was fighting his fight, especially early. When I started to use my jab and create distance and started turning him, I felt like I began to control the fight.”

It was the top-rated show on ESPN for the day and undoubtedly left those who saw Lopez wanting more. 

He’ll be glad to oblige.

“I want to fight all the top guys and I want to be the guy the fans know when they see my name, it’s going to be a real fight,” he said. “This was a great showcase for me — the last two were, really — and I want to take advantage of the momentum I have and keep pushing.”

Garcia vs. Golden Boy, again

Promoter Oscar De La Hoya announced via Twitter on Monday that because he couldn’t reach terms with Ryan Garcia for a deal to fight in July, he was giving the date to welterweight prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr.

This is more bad news, as Garcia and Golden Boy Promotions seemed on the verge of a split last year before a late deal on a new contract seemingly healed the wounds.

Garcia was offered $200,000 for the fight, but felt it was inadequate. One boxing manager told Yahoo Sports he could get Garcia 10 to 20 times that amount, though Top Rank’s Bob Arum scoffed at that notion. He said Garcia isn’t worth that much money, particularly in this marketplace, and sided with Golden Boy.

Garcia is a young fighter with promise and is eager to fight the big names in his division. Hopefully, this situation can be resolved for good because he has the ability to be a huge draw and an iconic personality in this sport.

Edge goes to Fury

Much has to happen yet despite the announced agreement between WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and IBF-WBA-WBO champion Anthony Joshua, which Fury announced via social media last week.

If the two fight as expected in 2021, here’s an early prediction for Fury.

Fury is a brilliant boxer, but he also has the toughness to stand up to a bully like Joshua. Fury will dominate the fight with his jab and when he wears Joshua down, he’ll pick up the pace and stop him.

Things can change — Fury has had mental health issues and if he has a backslide that would make a difference in the prediction — but I’d expect him to stop Joshua in the second half of their fight.

He said it

“I want to fight all the big names at the end of the day, and that’s what I’ve been calling for since I came into the welterweight division. They can’t avoid me forever. But at the same time it’s a business. They want to keep everything in house and they have the right to do so. But at the end of the day, they’re gonna have to see Terence Crawford.” — WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford, to talkSPORT.

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