|One breath at a time for Abraham Lopez|
Throughout the history of boxing, there are fighters who have an attribute that gives them a noticeable advantage inside the ring.
Some fighters have blazing speed. Some have devastating punching power. Some fighters know how to use their reach, allowing them to repeatedly connect over their opponents.
Then there are the few that have the natural ability or were “born” to be a fighter, like Muhammad Ali, Ray Robinson, or Ray Leonard.
Abraham Lopez may be an undefeated fighter, but he has yet to fight in a career-defining fight. However, the fighter from La Puente, CA may have a decided edge with a unique advantage that some fighters have trouble dealing with in fights.
Breathing. Although breathing is what people do anyway, boxers at times have had to pace themselves during fights to not be short of breath or have a difficult time getting “a second wind.”
Lopez is studying to become a respiratory therapist, where the acquired knowledge he has receives in the classroom has allowed him to apply his training regimen.
Lopez will use that and the talent that he possesses on Friday night, when he takes on fellow Southern California super featherweight Gabriel Tolmajyan in an eight round bout at the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa in Cabazon, CA.
The bout will precede the welterweight main event bout between Kendall Holt and Tim Coleman. Both fights will be televised as part of ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights.” The card will be promoted by Gary Shaw Productions.
In his last bout in October, Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) knocked out Gerardo Espinoza in the fourth round at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, CA. Promoted by Thompson Boxing and managed by Frank Espinoza, Lopez has gained a sizable following in Southern California, where he has fought 14 of his 16 professional bouts.
He will face another top prospect in Tolmajyan, who is unbeaten in his last 11 bouts. In his last bout in December, Tolmajyan won a hard-fought eight round split decision over Daulis Prescott, who entered the fight with a 23-0 record.
Lopez recognizes the importance of the fight, considering Tolmajyan is a southpaw and has fought as high as the lightweight limit.
“I know that he is a great boxer who is fast in the ring,” Lopez told Fightnews.com over the phone on Tuesday. “I know he likes to box, but my style allows me to fight on the inside or box from the outside as well. I prefer to stay on the outside, which allows me to hit and not get hit.”
Lopez has scored sensational knockouts in his career, including a 16-second first round annihilation of Edward Utorov in August of 2009. Although Lopez can punch and box fairly decent, he has had to make necessary adjustments throughout his career.
Lopez had to dig deep to outbox Aaron Garcia, earning a close eight round majority decision last April. Although Lopez is still young, he has realized to pace himself and not allow himself to get carried away in fights, allowed him to focus on boxing his opponent.
“I’m a lot smarter fighter in the ring now compared to when I started,” said Lopez, who goes by the nickname of “Chamaco” (slang for kid). “I realize now that three minutes go by very quick. Slowing down my pace has allowed me to relax in the ring.”
Another reason Lopez may attribute his intelligence in the ring could be against who he has sparred against. Lopez has sparred against a who’s who of talented featherweights and super bantamweights throughout his career.
Because of the accessibility of fighters who are managed by Frank Espinoza, Lopez has sparred against Israel Vazquez, Abner Mares, Daniel Ponce De Leon, and Yonnhy Perez to name a few. While Lopez was able to hold his own in the ring, he was able to gain a great deal of experience from them.
Although he was able to gain experience in the ring, it is the spoken advice given to Lopez that he embraces.
“I learn more about myself by applying what I learn in sparring. I’ve learned a great deal from what Israel, Daniel, Abner, and Yonnhy tell me. However, I try to physically apply what they tell me to work on in the gym. That is how I feel you learn best.”
As the 24 year old has gained valuable experience in the gym, he has also gained wisdom and experience in the classroom. Lopez is a full-time student at Mount San Antonio junior college in nearby Walnut, where he is studying to be a respiratory therapist.
He is eager to enter into the field of medicine once his boxing career concludes. The short amount of classes needed to become a therapist attracted Lopez to enter the field, but not interfere with his boxing career.
An admitted lover of books, Lopez has learned and applied using breathing techniques during training and sparring to pace himself. After hours of training, the breathing techniques have helped him, which could give him an important advantage during fights.
“I’ve connected my education to my career to assist me in training. I’ve learned many breathing techniques that have helped me during sparring and during my recent fights. Learning about the lungs and heart and its purposes have allowed me to pace myself and to push myself if I need to.”
Lopez could have a bright future in either the ring or in medicine. He puts in long hours of training and running through his neighborhood. He wakes up at 4AM to run for about an hour, then volunteering at a nearby hospital at 6AM some days of the week.
Although Lopez has a long way to go in fulfilling every boxer’s dream of winning a world title belt, he is on the right path towards that goal.
“I understand the business of this sport. (Manager) Frank (Espinoza) makes an investment in me and I have to perform. I don’t take the easy way out and I don’t back down from a challenge.”
“The experience I’ve after every fight or sparring session will only benefit me. I’ll be a featherweight for a long time and the hard work I put in will give me that edge for the rest of my career.”