Floyd Mayweather Jr claims to be 'The Best Ever' but Ricardo Lopez had a longer unbeaten record
By Ike Robinson
Last Updated: 28/09/15 5:55pm
Floyd Mayweather Jr calls himself 'The Best Ever' but Ricardo Lopez may have a superior claim to that title.
The Mexican known as 'El Finito' officially retired in November 2002 - more than a year after his final bout; a successful defence of his IBF world light-flyweight title via an eighth-round stoppage of Zolani Petelo in New York.
The victory brought down the curtain on a truly remarkable career with Lopez's record at 51-0-1-KO38. His only failure to win during his 52 fights was as a result of a technical draw with Rosendo 'El Bufalo' Alvarez in 1998 - a situation he swiftly amended with a rematch victory in Las Vegas.
Born in July 1966 in Cuernavaca - just south of Mexico City - Lopez turned professional at the age of 18 in his hometown and duly knocked out Rogelio Hernandez. Lopez cemented his reputation as a strawweight with heavy hands with seven more knockouts in a row.
Having boxed in the capital several times already, Lopez, who stands 5ft 5in tall, boxed there again for the WBC Continental Americas title in November 1989 - scoring a final-round stoppage of Rey Hernandez and defending the belt the following year with a knockout of Jorge Rivera on his American debut.
It was on October 25, 1990 that Lopez made the leap in to the big time. Granted his big shot by the WBC, he seized opportunity with both hands as he stunned Tokyo with a fifth-round stoppage of Japan's world strawweight champion Hideyuki Ohashi.
Lopez then took his newly-acquired belt on the road. Over 19 defences that took in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Mexico and the USA, he was taken the distance only four times as he continued to garner praise for the power of his punching.
WBO world champion Alex 'El Nene' Sanchez was next up for Lopez. It was his first fight at Madison Square Garden and he made his mark in some style - sending the Cuban to the canvas as early as the second round and going on to batter him to a halt in the fifth.
The battles with Alvarez followed. In the second of those bouts, Lopez added the WBA crown to his resume in what was to be his final bout at strawweight. Following the split decision win, Lopez took 11 months off and when he returned, stepped straight in to a world title clash at light-flyweight.
Minnesota's IBF world champion Will Grigsby, whose neat skills had earned him a host of points victories at the top level, was the target. Lopez handed him a dose of his own medicine as he showcased his technical ability to score a wide points victory and become a two-weight world champion.
Any fears his punching power had not carried over to the 108lb-division were dispelled in his final two bouts when he hammered Thailand's Ratanapol Sor Vorapin inside three in Vegas and then rounded off a legendary sporting career with the victory over Petelo.
Perhaps because of the weight classes, Lopez is often left out of conversations about who the greatest boxer ever. His world title fights often came on the undercard of heavyweight events such as Mike Tyson v Evander Holyfield I in November 1996. His record and reputation, however, speak for themselves.