By Lee Bates
The word perseverance may come to mind when you think of the career of newly crowned WBO super flyweight champion Jose ‘Carita’ Lopez’ career (39-7-2, 32 KOs). Lopez began his championship quest back in November of 1991 when he turned professional. Many fighters who are considered serious prospects generally go unbeaten at least within their first 10-15 fights. Lopez didn’t win his first professional fight until his 3rd bout. He had a draw in his debut and lost the rematch by decision in his next bout. Lopez was just (4-2-1) through his first 7 bouts. Many fighters would have stopped realistically thinking about world title aspirations at that point. Lopez, however, still believed himself as he would go on to win 15 of his next 16 bouts in route to his first world title fight. Little did he know at the time it would take him 4 more attempts after that fight to win the world title. After 4 failed world title attempts Lopez achieved his goal of becoming a world champion in his 5th opportunity on March 28th by unanimously decisioning Thailand’s Pramuansak Posuwan in his native Puerto Rico.
Its been nearly 4 months since he won his world title and Lopez is now back in the gym while he awaits confirmation on his first title defense. Fightnews spoke with Lopez regarding finally becoming a champion, still fighting at a high level at 37 years old, and his willingness to fight the best in the division.
What are your thoughts and feelings now having had nearly 4 months to reflect on becoming a world champion?
It still feels great. It definitely was a long journey but well worth it. I’m grateful to my promoter PR Best Boxing (Ivan & Peter Rivera) for keeping me active and getting me this opportunity. I was really determined It’s definitely a night I will never forget.
Having had loss in four attempts prior to winning your title were there any doubts in your mind you were going to win the title that night?
I had no doubts at all. All my previous world title attempts were on the road. It was a dream come true to fight for the world title in my native Puerto Rico. I came into the bout extremely confident and determined to win the world title that night and that’s what I did.
37 is considered fairly old for a fighter in your weight class. How have you been able to compete and succeed at such a high level at this stage of your career?
The main thing is I live a clean life. I’m a family man and I keep myself in very good shape.
How do rate yourself amongst the other elite fighters in your weight class?
I think that I’m right up there with the top guys such as Jorge Arce and Hugo Cazares who is now in the division now as well. I definitely see myself doing well against any of the elite fighters in my division.
What fights are you looking for down the road if not next?
I want and hope to fight the best the division has to offer.