Miguel “Happy” Lora, the boxer who moved like Shakira

miguel lora29.05.07 - By Jaime Castro-Núñez: Montería, in Northern Colombia, is a tranquil, yet commercially active city located along the banks of the Sinu River, well-known for its fructiferous soil, for the beauty of its women, and for being the home-city of Miguel “Happy” Lora, the charismatic boxer that reigned in the bantamweight division from 1985, when he categorically defeated Mexican warrior Daniel Zaragoza in Miami, FL, to 1988, when he loss the belt to Raúl “Jíbaro” Pérez in Las Vegas, NV.

Born Miguel Lora Escudero on April 12, 1961, he was nicknamed “Happy” by his Aunt Marina, who used to wake him up saying, in English, “happy day, Miguel” and he remained Miguel “Happy” Lora for the rest of his life. Lora started his boxing career at an early age, as he grew up watching local legends such as Cipriano “Barbulito” Zuluaga and Enrique “Quique” Higgins, whose skills impressed him to the point that he did not want to do anything else, but boxing.

So it was that he started training day after day, after school, moving his hips, one, two, job, to the sides.

At the age of 16, in 1977, he won the gold medal in the National Tournament of Boxing, held in Montería. Three years later he captured the WBC Fecarbox Super Flyweight Title, and in 1982 he won the Colombian Super Flyweight Title, always moving his waist, one, two, uppercut, to the sides. In 1983 he defeated Rubén Darío Palacios to win the Vacant WBC Continental Americas Bantamweight Title. He kept winning and eventually called the attention of boxing manager and promoter Félix “Tuto” Zabala, who promptly recognized Lora’s potential. Then he started to train under the tutelage of Argentinean master Amilcar Brusa, who polished the diamond and taught him how to stay away from dangers, one, two, hook, step back.

On August 9, 1985, an undefeated Lora fought in Miami his 24th bout against Daniel Zaragoza for the WBC Bantamweight Title. One, two, straight right hand and down went Zaragoza. On the corner, Brusa seemed excited as his pupil was dominating the opponent, one, two, job, step back, straight left hand and down went the Mexican. In his native Montería, no soul was on the streets, as every Monterian was watching the swing, one, two, hook, step back. Then he resumed his performance, almost dancing like Shakira while playing with the one-two, circling the rival, not letting his hips lie, another hand and Zaragoza went to visit the ants for the third time. At the end of the night, Tony Castellano scored the bout 116-109, Miguel Doante wrote 118-107, and Lou Filippo scored 115-110, all to the winner, by unanimous decision, and new champion of the world, from Montería, Colombia, Miguel “Happy” Lora.

The new WBC Bantamweight champion defended the belt three times in 1986, first against tough Puerto Rican Wilfredo Vázquez, a bout that Lora himself would remember as the hardest and most memorable of his entire career. The challenger had been down in the second round, but he stood up and came in the fourth with a hand that Lora did not see and he went down for the very first time. The fight resumed and Lora applied Brusa’s teachings: one, two, escape from danger, step back, job, move the waist, one, two. Back home, a victorious, swollen Lora would jokingly answer to a journalist who asked about his swollen eyes: “that’s an allergy.” Then he easily dispatched Dominican Enrique Sánchez, and three months later he outpointed American Alberto Dávila in a 12-round war celebrated in Barranquilla before 50.000 spectators. In the same year of 1986 he was elected Colombia’s Sportsman of the Year.

On July 25, 1987, Lora continued his victorious path knocking out Antonio Avelar, and four months later he managed to win over Ray Minus, using all his defensive skills, stepping back, throwing punches, escaping from the Bahamian’s hands, one, two, moving his hips like Shakira, almost dancing, combinations, one, two.

In 1988 he defended the belt for the sixth time against Argentinean Lucio “Metralleta” López. The fight, held in his native Colombia in the historic city of Cartagena, showed a better-than-ever Lora, taking Metralleta´s best punches, shaking the challenger’s amalgams with all sorts of combinations to his jaw, one, two, hook, step back. Months later, in Inglewood, CA, he outboxed Alberto Dávila to successfully defend the belt. Miguel “Happy” Lora’s reign ended when he faced Raúl “Jíbaro” Pérez of Tijuana in Las Vegas, NV. After that loss, he unsuccessfully tried to capture the WBO Bantamweight Title, first against Gaby Cañizales, and then against Rafael del Valle. Lora´s final record was 40-3-0 with 17 Ko’s.

During the years as a champion, Miguel “Happy” Lora was well-known for his charisma and exquisite style, and was considered one of the best Pound-for-Pound fighters at the time. Nowadays he lives in his native Montería, still trotting every morning, practicing the one-two that made of him one of the best bantamweights ever, one, two, moving to the sides, still agile as a hare, one, two, moving his hips, pretty much like Shakira.

Article posted on 29.05.2007

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