Alfonso “El Tigre” Lopez: “I’ll be back”
By Joseph Herron: In the boxing universe, too often a prizefighter’s career is judged by a single performance, with very little regard to his entire body of work.
Throughout boxing’s rich history, even the greatest of champions have been beaten. Only a handful of fighters have retired with an unblemished record. History tells us that defeat in boxing is almost inevitable, yet critics of the sport continue to place an overly officious emphasis on a single loss.
What separates the heart of a champion from the average fighter is how he reacts after swallowing the bitter pill of defeat. A true champion of boxing is determined to learn from disappointment and to come back even stronger for his next big opportunity.
Alfonso “El Tigre” Lopez insists that he possesses the heart of a true champion.
“After experiencing my first loss, I felt bad,” admits Lopez. “I initially felt that I let everyone down, including myself.”
But after reviewing his performance and digesting what had transpired this past Saturday night, Lopez’s forecast for his boxing future couldn’t be more optimistic.
“I proved that I can compete with the best and truly believe that I belong at the world class level,” claims the 28 year old fighter. “Kelly Pavlik is a former champion who has knocked out some great fighters. I not only took him the distance, but I felt like I did enough to get the victory.”
Although the judges at ringside didn’t share his sentiment on fight night, statistics of the bout support Alfonso’s argument.
“It’s very difficult for me to understand how a fighter can land more punches against his opponent and have a higher connect percentage, yet lose almost every round on two of the judges’ scorecards,” states Lopez.
The Cut & Shoot, TX resident landed 180 of 369 punches thrown, while Pavlik landed 168 of 374; yet judge Dick Houck scored the bout 98-92 and C J Ross scored it 99-91 in favor of the former universally recognized middleweight champion.
Judge Adalaide Byrd scored the bout 95-95, which coincidently was more consistent with the two Showtime analysts Al Bernstein and Antonio Tarver, who scored the fight unofficially 96-94 and 96-95 in favor of Kelly Pavlik.
Doug Fischer of RingTv.com also unofficially scored last Saturday night’s bout 96-95 for the Youngstown, OH based fighter.
“Although I don’t agree with the official decision, I accept full responsibility for not putting forth a more convincing argument in the ring,” professes Lopez. “My hand speed, lateral movement, and combination punching was giving him a lot of problems. But instead of boxing him, I elected to try and fight a more physical type of battle for most of the fight, which better suited Pavlik.”
While most boxing scribes recognize that Pavlik indeed had a tough time fighting the Corpus Christi, TX native, very few are citing Lopez as the cause. Most ringside observers have attributed Pavlik’s lack-luster performance with “ring-rust” rather than appreciating the skills and talent of the Texas prospect.
“It bothers me a little bit,” admits Lopez. “I was undefeated before I faced Pavlik for a reason. Kelly stated during the press conference before the fight that he felt completely prepared both mentally and physically, so to say that I wasn’t the reason for the amount of difficulty he had in the ring isn’t a fair assessment.”
“He’s still Kelly Pavlik…he wasn’t exposed or anything like that on Saturday night,” claims the Texas fighter. “If anyone was exposed on fight night, it was me. I was exposed as a good fighter.”
Although he feels somewhat disrespected by this critique, Alfonso has elected to view this with optimism rather than resentment.
“I had trouble getting the best fighters to face me before my fight with Pavlik, so it’s probably a positive for me that critics are calling it ring-rust.”
Lopez recognizes the realistic possibility that his gritty performance may very well have earned him the dreaded “avoided fighter” moniker. This doesn’t seem to bother the Texas fighter.
“This entire experience has been really motivating for me,” states Alfonso. “Being part of such a big fight really makes me want to work even harder to get back to this level. I just have to put together another winning streak and prove to everyone that I deserve to be there.”
“I think I showed everyone that I wasn’t intimidated by my opponent or the environment,” claims Lopez. “I can fight anybody. I am confident that over time the truth will reveal itself and I will get another opportunity.”
Although Lopez saw his unbeaten streak come to an end, he wants to assure his fans that he will learn from this experience and come back even stronger.
“I hope everyone enjoyed my performance on Saturday night. I know I didn’t get the decision, but I feel that I have the mental and physical toughness to compete with anyone in this division.”
“I will get right back into the gym and work my way into position for an eventual rematch with Kelly Pavlik.”Source: Eastside Boxing