A star in the making
A former Sam Houston State football player, Alfonso Lopez traded in his pads after finding out he had a talent and passion for boxing
A few short years ago Alfonso Lopez had dreams of making a name for himself on the football field.
An all-district performer at Corpus Christi Moody, Lopez made the decision to walk on at Sam Houston State and found his way on to the roster. Everything was going well, but as fate would have it, he was about to find his true calling in the boxing ring.
Like most kids, Lopez was big into sports while growing up on the Texas coast. He played baseball, basketball, football, and thanks to family tradition, dabbled in a little boxing.
But as Lopez grew older, he concentrated on football and boxing was put on the back burner.
“I boxed a lot when I was a kid,” Lopez said. “We would always box in the back yard and stuff like that. But all the other sports were pushed (by my family) like baseball and football — safer sports I guess they thought. So I ended up playing football and came to Sam.”
Following his freshman year at SHSU, Lopez went back home for the summer. While back in Corpus Christi, he found out that one of his friends was training for a tough man competition and decided to help out.
That was enough to awaken a passion for boxing inside of him that had laid dormant for years.
“I just went back home to help my friend train and work out,” Lopez said. “It just stayed with me and became addicting. When I got back I started playing football again, but boxing was on my mind all the time. It was hard to concentrate so I just walked away from football.”
Not long after he hung up his cleats, Lopez signed up to fight in an amateur boxing event hosted by one of Sam Houston State’s fraternities. In order to take part in the event, potential fighters must take some basic lessons from professional trainers.
That brought Lopez to the doorstep of Felix Rameriz, who along with Henry Harris, trains fighters at Cut N Shoot Boxing Gym in Huntsville. Lopez scored a knockout in his fight, and Rameriz immediately saw pro potential in the young fighter.
“When I first saw him, I was impressed with how fast he picked up on things,” Rameriz said. “He’s strong and has the whole package. I really wanted to work with him but after the fight he was gone. I told Henry Harris about him and thankfully (Lopez) started coming back around.
“We didn’t waste anytime with him and let him fight in the open class in amateur fights. That division is the cream of the crop. He was fighting in the open division after three fights, and most fighters take at least 10.”
Lopez wasted no time making a name for himself by winning the Texas Golden Gloves title in the light heavyweight class in 2005. He successfully defended his crown the following year when he also finished second at the national tournament.
After 30 amateur fights, Lopez’s camp decided it was time to turn pro. The 24-year-old made his debut back in March and scored a unanimous decision victory over Bobby Joe Magee in front of his hometown fans at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi.
“We knew right away that Alfonso could be a world class fighter. We wasn’t getting lucky, he is the real thing,” Harris said. “It took him just eight amateur fights to win a state Golden Gloves title. At nationals, he beat three of the top fighters in the U.S. We had thought about the possibility of fighting in the Olympics, but at his age, it was the right time for him to turn pro.
“I have trained three top 10 fighters, and Alfonso is the best I have seen. He listens and does what we tell him, and I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes.”
Lopez, dubbed “El Tigre,” followed up his first professional win with a spectacular first-round technical knockout of Jason Crawford in June in Pasadena. Lopez backed Crawford into the ropes and delivered a couple of crushing body shots before catching the stunned opponent with a right to the head. There is a video of the bout on Lopez’s official Web site, www.alfonsolopez3.com.
“It was fast, literally. I got in the ring, we started fighting and once I got the opportunity, I stepped in and went to his body first,” a smiling Lopez said about his TKO. “It took all the air out of him and a finished him with a little right hand. That body shot hurt him bad and the ref called it.”
With a 2-0 start to his pro career, Lopez didn’t have much time to enjoy the moment. He has been busy, training six days a week for his upcoming fight Thursday set up by Rock Solid Promotions at the Houston Crown Plaza Hotel.
Lopez will face “The Wolverine” Jason Lane, a fighter moving down from the heavyweight division. It will be Lopez’s toughest test so far, and one of many as he continues his quest for a world championship.
“Alfonso has a great style for professional boxing,” said Bob Spagnola, who sets up matches for Lopez. “Felix and Henry told me a few years ago that I needed to see this kid. Alfonso is a good athlete but what makes him special is that he does everything right. With guys like Felix and Henry training him, it has been easy to find the right fights.
“I have managed eight world champions, and I think Alfonso has what it takes to be one.”
The ultimate goal is for Lopez to eventually drop down to the super middleweight class, but for now he is happy with the way things are going.
By turning pro, he gets to spend more time with his wife, Gina, and their 3-year-old daughter, Madelyn — the real driving force behind him in the ring.
“What drives me is my wife and little girl at home counting on me to do this right,” Lopez said. “Going to the top is the ultimate goal, and the only way to get there is to listen to what my trainers tell me.”
Tickets are still available for Lopez’s upcoming fight Thursday at the Houston Crown Plaza Hotel. Tickets are $25 and can only be purchased by calling Felix Rameriz at (832) 260-6090.