Danny Lopez leads boxing Hall of Fame inductees
Updated: June 11, 2010, 12:55
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CANASTOTA, N.Y.(AP) Danny "Little Red'' Lopez will always be remembered for one fight, and yet his victory over Davey Kotey more than three decades ago plays second fiddle in Lopez's mind.
His most satisfying moment in the ring? It came in a fight against Ruben Olivares in 1975.
"He was going back and he hit me with a shot, knocked me down,'' Lopez said. "I was getting back up and he thought I was hurt. He came in to knock me out and I hit him with a straight right hand.''
Ah, that right hand. In a 10-year professional featherweight career, Lopez used it to fashion a 42-6 record with 39 knockouts, a resume that has earned him a place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
The 57-year-old Lopez heads the 13-member class to be inducted on Sunday. Among the other living inductees voted in by the Boxing Writers Association are: light flyweight champ Jung-Koo Chang, the first South Korean boxer to make the Hall of Fame; manager Shelly Finkel; referee and commissioner Larry Hazzard; German promoter Wilfried Sauerland; matchmaker Bruce Trampler; and Ed Schuyler Jr., the longtime boxing writer for The Associated Press.
Posthumous honorees to be enshrined include: light heavyweight Lloyd Marshall; featherweight champion Young Corbett II; lightweight champion Rocky Kansas; heavyweight contender Billy Miske; broadcaster Howard Cosell; and Paddington Tom Jones.
Lopez followed his brother Ernie into the ring, learning the sweet science in Orem, Utah, at the age of 16 before turning pro in 1971 and beginning his career with 21 straight knockouts.
That Lopez doesn't consider his victory over Kotey in 1976 his favorite moment in the ring is probably because it wasn't a knockout. It was memorable, nonetheless, because he beat the WBC featherweight champ in his homeland of Ghana in front of a crowd of 122,000 fans - the largest crowd in the sport's history at that time - and the bout didn't get under way until nearly five hours after it was scheduled to start.
Spurred by fans from the American embassy who had helped him overcome a bad case of diarrhea, Lopez won the title on a 15-round decision.
A string of eight successful title defenses followed, including a sixth-round knockout of Kotey and a 15th-round KO of Mike Ayala in 1979.
After losing in a ninth-round knockout to Bobby Chacon on May 24, 1974, Lopez rebounded with wins over Chucho Castillo, Olivares, Sean O'Grady and Art Hafey before meeting Kotey for the WBC featherweight championship.
Lopez's title run ended in 1980 when Salvador Sanchez knocked him out in the 13th round. After Sanchez knocked him out again in their rematch, Lopez retired, though he fought one more time.
Schuyler covered more than 300 world championships for AP and figures he was ringside for about 6,000 fights.
Among his favorites were the first and third Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fights, Ali's "Rumble in the Jungle'' against George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns, Marvelous Marvin Hagler-Roberto Duran, and the 1976 Olympic finals in Montreal, where the United States won five gold medals and beat the Cubans head-to-head three times.
"It is nice to know that I'm going to be in the Hall with so many of the fighters I covered, fighters who made the sport great,'' Schuyler said.
Cosell was not at the Ali-Frazier "Thrilla in Manila'' or the "Rumble in the Jungle,'' yet he was a champion of the sport. Perhaps most significantly, he stood by Ali when Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title and forced into a three-year retirement because of his refusal to serve in the military in Vietnam. Cosell also was one of the first to call him Ali when the fighter changed his name from Cassius Clay.