What has been called the greatest 105 pound fight in boxing history, was actually a return fight. On this day 25 years ago, Mexican great Ricardo Lopez faced tough Nicaraguan Rosendo Alvarez in Las Vegas, the two having fought in Mexico eight months earlier. The two rival 105 pound champions saw their unification battle end via technical decision, this due to a nasty clash of heads in the 7th round. The fight was a TD draw.
The two knew they would have to fight again and they did.
This time, Alvarez failed to make weight, his WBA belt stripped and on the line only for Lopez to win. Lopez, the WBC ruler, could have walked away, yet he agreed to fight an over-the-weight “El Bufalo.” The fans would be forever grateful.
Lopez, known as “El Finito,” was a remarkable 47-0-1, the draw with the 24-0-1 Alvarez the sole blemish on his record. Alvarez too wanted to put things right, and the war was on.
Lopez, a superb technician, boxed brilliantly, his counter-punching skills on display along with his ability to fight fire with fire. Alvarez was pure aggression, and the fight had many highlight periods of torrid action. The pace was a red-hot one, even for small guys. Lopez was cut as in the first fight, with the older man by four years suffering a total of three cuts to his eyes. The first cut came via accidental head clash in round five, Lopez cut by his right eye. Later, along with suffering a fractured nose, Lopez picked up two cuts under his left eye.
But Lopez remained focused, composed, unfazed. Alvarez really tried to pour it in in the 10th round, but Lopez fired back, the action sizzling. Despite the blood compromising his vision, Lopez continued to land some beautiful combinations. Alvarez refused to be hurt. With the crowd on its feet at The Las Vegas Hilton, the war raged all the way to the final bell. Neither guy had stopped slinging out leather all night long.
It was close on the cards, with one judge awarding the fight to Alvarez at 115-113, and the other two judges giving it to Lopez at 116-112 and 116-114. Both men felt they had won the fight. A third fight was a possibility, but Lopez instead moved up in weight in search of another world title.
Both these little giants gave their sport The Fight of The Year on this day in 1998, and for those fans who have not yet seen the brutal brilliance both greats showed when they brought the best out of each other, it’s highly recommended that this is put right ASAP via YouTube.
Lopez retired with an unbeaten record of 51-0-1(38). Alvarez called it quits with a not too shabby 37-4-2(24) ledger. Plenty of experts have Lopez ranked as one of the Top 10 greatest Mexican fighters of all-time. It could be that “El Finito” gave us his finest fight in his final fight at 105 pounds.