Friday, April 8, 2016


   Alvaro Lopez was born in Zacatecas, Mexico.  He earned the nickname "Yaqui" when his trainer was asked if he was of Native American decent at an amateur event.  The trainer was caught off guard, and answered "Yes - Yaqui Indian"... the nickname stuck even though Lopez was actually Mexican!  The man who dreamed of becoming a bullfighter began boxing in the amateur ranks and after a 13-3 amateur record he turned professional on April 24, 1972 in Stockton, California.  Lopez won his first 3 bouts but lost in his 4th pro bout against a young unbeaten fighter named Jesse Burnett who would later fight for the World Title.  Lopez and Burnett would face each other 3 more times.

   After 2 years and some great wars, Lopez built up a reputation as an action fighter who many were mentioning as a possible future world champion.  May 10 1974 saw Lopez in his first title fight as he challenged Hildo Silva (26-5-4) for his California State Light Heavyweight Title Belt.  It was said to be a war, and when the dust settled, Lopez had his hand raised and was now the California State Champion.

   As always happens when you win any title, the competition level was stepped up each time out, and Lopez managed to put together a very impressive 7 fight win streak which included victories over ranked contenders Joe Cokes (19-4-1, 11 ko's), a rematch victory over Hildo Silva, Mike Quarry (48-5-3), and Gary Summerhays (23-7-2) leading to a defense of his California Title in a rematch against the man who handed him his first defeat - Jesse Burnett.  Lopez lost a very close majority decision, and demanded a rematch and a chance to regain his title.  It was granted and took place less than 2 months later.  It was the third time to face Jesse Burnett, and it was the charm as Lopez won another tough split decision to regain his California State Championship.

   Lopez put together 4 more wins after the fights with Burnett, he rose in the world rankings and on October 9, 1976, found his self in Copenhagen, Denmark fighting John Conteh (28-1, 21 ko) for his WBC Light Heavyweight World Title.  It was a war (as all Yaqui Lopez fights were) that ended with Conteh retaining his world title by unanimous decison.  Scores were 148-146, and 149-145 x 2.

   Yaqui went right back to work putting together a 7-1 streak, with the only loss coming on a cut which stopped the fight against Lonnie Bennett (27-3, 23 ko) in Indianapolis, IN.  His performance kept him in the top 10 of both governing bodies, and he was given a second chance at the world title, this time for the WBA belt, but he had to travel to Italy and face one of the most feared fighters in the world - Victor Galindez.  It was Sept. 17, 1977 and the fans were treated to a brutal slugfest which ended in a razor close 15 round decision for the Champion Galindez on scores of 148-146, 147-146, and 146-145

   Again, Lopez was world ranked but without a world title which his fights with Conteh and Galindez proved that he was worthy of.  He would go back to California and start another campaign hoping for another shot at the title.  After impressive wins against mid level opponents, he scored a huge win over fellow world ranked contender "The Jewish Bomber" Mike Rossman (32-3-3, 19 ko) via 6 round tko.  Earning his self a 3rd shot at the Light Heavyweight World Title, and a rematch against Victor Galindez for the WBA version again in Italy.  After 15 more brutal rounds, another decision loss for the title.   Scores were 148-145, 148-146, and 146-144 for Galindez.

   In his next fight, Lopez faced Jesse Burnett for a fourth and final time.  Winning a hard fought 15 round majority decision in Alvaro's adopted home town of Stockton, CA
putting him right back in line for a title shot and in his next fight he traveled to Philadelphia, PA to face legendary Matthew Saad Muhammad (21-3-2, 14 ko)(who was known as Matt Franklin at the time) for the NABF Light Heavyweight Championship.  Lopez was stopped in round 11 of another of many incredibly brutal wars.

   Lopez went right back to business and put together another string of 6 wins and 1 loss, which included a win over Bash Ali, and the loss coming to popular James Scott (17-0-1, 10 ko) by decision in a bout held at Rahway State Prison, NJ.

   The win streak and performance against Scott earned Alvaro his final shot at the Light Heavyweight World Championship.  It was July 13, 1980 and he would face Matthew Saad Muhammad for the 2nd time, but now he was the WBC World Champion.  Lopez fought another close bruising battle, ending with Lopez being stopped in round 14 of what became the 1980 Ring Magazine fight of the year!

   Out of the frying pan and into the fire, in his next fight Lopez squared off with an up and coming contender, an undefeated former olympic gold medalist named Michael Spinks (13-0, 8 ko).  Spinks stopped Lopez in round 7 of their battle.

How much World Class competition can one man face?

   4 straight knockout wins later, Alvaro Yaqui Lopez got one more shot at the NABF Title.  July 24, 1981 vs defending champion S.T. Gordon (20-5, 18 ko) having moved up in weight, this was for the Cruiserweight championship.  Lopez started good and was ahead on all 3 scorecards when he was caught, and stopped by the hard punching champion in round 7.

   Lopez remained in the Cruiserweight division and fought on.  His last 2 pro bouts were both title bouts.  Sept. 21, 1983 saw Lopez stopped in round 4 of a contest for the WBC World Cruiserweight Championship against Carlos "Sugar" Deleon (35-3, 24 ko).  And in his final professional fight, Lopez lost in a rematch against Bash Ali (23-9) for a chance at the California State Cruiserweight Title belt.  It was a very close 12 round split decision loss on scores of 117-112 Lopez, 118-112 Ali, and the deciding judge saw it a 1 point win for Bash Ali at 115-114.

Alvaro Yaqui Lopez had a glorious career, he faced the best of an era of greatness in the Light Heavyweight division, and although he did not win the world title, he is considered a great among boxing fans, and is a member of the California Boxing Hall of Fame.  Yaqui Lopez ended his pro boxing career with a record of: 61 wins, 15 defeats, and 39 wins by knockout.

See Lopez's entire pro ledger: CLICK HERE

If you would like to see Alvaro "Yaqui" Lopez in action, I have the following bouts available on DVD:

VICTOR GALINDEZ #1                               [L-15] {WBA Light Heavy Title}
 MIKE ROSSMAN                                       [tko-6]
VICTOR GALINDEZ #2                               [L-15] {WBA Light Heavy Title}
MATTHEW SAAD MUHAMMAD #1         [tko-by-11] {NABF Light Heavy Title}
 JAMES SCOTT                                            [L-10]
MATTHEW SAAD MUHAMMAD #2         [tko-by-14] {WBC Light Heavy Title}
MICHAEL SPINKS                                      [tko-by-7]
TONY MUNDINE                                        [tko-3]
JOHNNY DAVIS                                          [L-10]
CARLOS "Sugar" DELEON                           [tko-by-4]

Contact me:                                                   

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