Birthday boy Ricardo López is one in an elite group of world champions to retire undefeated and surpass legends Floyd Mayweather & Rocky Marciano in terms of wins, finishing with a dazzling record of 51-0-1. This great ‘little’ Mexican nicknamed ‘El Finito’, who stood 5 foot 5 inches tall, defended his WBC strawweight title 21 times, a record for the division to rival the great bigger men such as champions Larry Holmes and Joe Louis. López is relatively unknown to casual fans despite being recognized as the greatest strawweight of all time and being inducted into the International & World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006.

Ricardo López turned pro in 1985 at the age of 18 after winning four consecutive ‘Guantas de Oro de Mexico’ amateur championships and without ever losing an amateur fight in 41 bouts. His run began at minimumweight, accumulating 26 wins in a row before receiving his first shot at the world title in 1990. El Finito traveled to Tokyo, Japan to take on the WBC champion Hideyuki Ohashi and quickly despatched him inside four rounds, with a superb three-punch combination that finished with a deadly accurate left hook.

In 1993 whilst still at minimumweight, López convincingly stopped Thailand’s Saman Sorjaturong in round 2, who went on to become a two-time champion himself. One of his standout knockouts at Minimumweight was against Ala Villamor in 1996 which we previously posted on our Instagram channel.

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In his 20th world title bout, López unified his WBC title in defeating Puerto Rican WBO champion Alex Sanchez via 5th round TKO. A year later in 1998 in a bid to add the WBA title to his collection, López suffered his first and only blemish on his record against the unbeaten Nicaraguan, Rosendo Alvarez. Alvarez started strongly and in round 2 he sent López to the canvas for the first time in his career with a looping overhand right. López recovered well in the rounds that followed, but a clash of heads in the 7th badly cut the Mexican and due to WBC ruling, Alvarez had a point deducted. The fight was subsequently stopped, scorecards counted, and the result eventually announced a draw. A rematch followed in late 1998 and despite Sanchez coming in overweight, López claimed his 3rd minimumweight world title with a unanimous decision win in what is widely considered his defining fight.

Ricardo López vacated his minimumweight belts and moved up to defeat IBF light flyweight champion Will Grigsby over 12 rounds via unanimous decision. A defense of his new IBF title in Las Vegas against Thailand’s Anucha Phothong was his penultimate fight, before knocking out Zolani Petelo in the final fight of his career, who had recently vacated his IBF minimumweight belt, the only title that López had not claimed before moving up.

López had everything; speed, timing, technique, IQ, footwork, distance control, stamina, composure, a solid chin, power, combinations, countering and had no obvious weaknesses. Although criticized by some for not moving up in weight earlier to face tougher opposition, he fought 11 world champions during his glittering career and will go down as one of the greatest Mexican fighters ever.

Happy Birthday, champ!

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