Fight fans of a certain age will remember rough, tough 1970s and ’80s heavyweight warrior Eddie “The Animal” Lopez, who sadly died over the weekend according to a report on RingTV.com. It’s not clear what the cause of death was but, as the article points out, Lopez had a long battle with drugs.
Even Lopez’ exact age is unclear, the Los Angeles fighter was believed to be in his early 60s. He was reportedly found dead in his apartment by his daughter with whom he lived in L.A.
Holder of one of the sport’s most memorable nicknames, Mexican/American slugger Lopez was hugely popular during his career; during which he fought big names such as Leon Spinks (who he drew with, in 1980), Gerry Cooney (who he lost to via decision, one of the rare distance fights in the unbeaten Cooney’s career), John Tate (another decision loss) and, in his final ring appearance in 1984, Tony Tucker (a stoppage defeat).
Retiring with a 25-4-2(17) record, Lopez had enjoyed a colourful career despite not having won a single pro title. Naturally aggressive and powerful, always looking for the KO, “The Animal” thrilled his fans. Some of these same fans, along with “Rocky” movie aficionados, will remember seeing Lopez in “Rocky II,” where he plays a fighter who is being trained in the same Philly gym as the fictitious Balboa. Snarling at the out of favour Balboa, who at the time is refusing to face Apollo Creed in a rematch, Lopez’ character also taunts Rocky – “Hey, can’t you think of anything tougher to say than ‘oops’!” he says to Rocky as the slugger accidentally bumps into someone.
Who knows, Lopez might have had the stuff needed to make it as a decent enough actor. Lopez also sparred an exhibition with the great Muhammad Ali, in 1980, as Ali was attempting to get back in shape for his ill-fated fight with Larry Holmes.
Lopez was one of the fight game’s genuine characters but, unfortunately, he is also one of many fighters to have “fallen in with the wrong crowd,” hence his drugs problems. Tributes are currently coming in and everyone who knew “The Animal” has nothing but good stuff to say about the man.
May he rest in peace.