RESEDA — Adam Lopez came in at 126 pounds, the featherweight limit. For a boxer, it’s like tying your shoes or locking the door. It’s the lowest common denominator.

So Lopez was just sitting around his Las Vegas hotel room, chilling, getting his mind right for Luis Coria, who was challenging Lopez for his NABF featherweight belt.

He didn’t know Rachel Charles, his PR person, was coming down the hall, followed by destiny.

“I’m drinking my water, and Rachel comes in and grabs me,” Lopez said. “She says, come on.”

They went to see Buddy McGirt, Lopez’s trainer. There was something different in McGirt’s face.

“What’s up?” Lopez asked.

This was up. Andres Gutierrez was supposed to fight Oscar Valdez, who was 26-0 and had moved to 130. But Gutierrez plopped onto the scale at 141. The Top Rank promoters were livid enough to throw him out of his hotel.

First, they needed a stand-in.

“This is what they got,” McGirt told Lopez.

Lopez managed to keep his heart within his chest.

“I can beat Oscar,” he said.

Thus began a four-hour siege of interviews and photo shoots that would have exhausted anyone of less ambition. Lopez had fought his way up through the ballrooms, the clubs, the bars, anywhere with a ring. Now he was going from non-event to Main Event, quicker than overnight.

The dream accelerated when Lopez knocked down Valdez in the second round.

Then Valdez recovered his championship identity and knocked down Lopez in the seventh, and the fight was stopped.

Lopez lost a fight and won a name. One man’s midnight snack becomes another man’s feast.

“I train the whole year,” Lopez said. “If someone says there’s a fight coming up, you take it. It’s not a regular sport. It’s a business more than anything else. You have to stay dedicated, trust your vision.”

Lopez now looks for more national telecasts on Top Rank cards, maybe as soon as April. He actually went up to 129½ pounds to fight Valdez, but he has no problem at featherweight.

“That division might open up for Adam,” said Carl Moretti of Top Rank. “We don’t expect Shakur Stevenson (the WBO champ) to stay at 126 that long. Adam is a legit guy there.”

Lopez landed his Top Rank deal after an eight-round TKO of Hector Ambriz Suarez in October of 2018.

Before that, his trail ran through the Quiet Cannon in Montebello, the Westin Bonaventure ballroom, even the exclusive Jonathan Club on Figueroa, where Lopez and Ryan Lee Allen were the lounge act.

“That was a weird one,” Lopez said. “It’s an all-male club. My brother and I were on the card but we couldn’t even bring our mom, who goes to all our fights.

“All these rich guys, they were screaming and drinking and betting on the fights. I said, I don’t care about these guys. Just let me fight, give me my check ($1,500) and go.”

The other big break was finding McGirt, a two-time world champion who won 73 fights and was named Trainer of the Year in 2002.

“We’d go over and spar with his guys,” Lopez said, “and we’d beat ’em up, and there was always this old dude yelling at us. Turned out, it was him.

“I picked his brain every second. For the first month, all he let me throw was a jab on the heavy bag. Get the low stance, good balance, move your head. Then we’d go to the right hand. He built me from the bottom. I’d get frustrated. Was I doing it all wrong? But no one had showed me the fundamentals.”

Hector Lopez didn’t fight that way. He found his own angles.


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