As a lifelong boxing fan, it was fascinating to research old fight footage while preparing to write the story which ran in Saturday’s edition of The Record about famed Stockton fighter Alvaro “Yaqui Lopez’s trip to attend the funeral of old friend and foe Matthew Saad Muhammad.
And I was left with the feeling that if their classic 1980 brawl happened today, Yaqui would very likely have won and been crowned WBC light-heavyweight champion.
The fight was selected as The Ring Magazine Fight of the Year and the eighth round was the Round of the Year. In the eight, Lopez hit Saad Muhammad with more than 20 unanswered punches. To his credit the Philadelphia fighter battled back, but this is a different sport now. Boxing officials are much more conscious of head injuries, and today the ref stops it in the 8th on a TKO.
The fight was also fought under the old 15-round rule for title bouts, instead of the current 12 rounds. Lopez dominated and faded late, but may have piled up enough points to win through the 12th. It would have been very close.
But the rules were the rules, and Yaqui certainly would never look for an excuse. He was stopped in the 14th round of that fight, and made a good friend out of the deal. So in a very real way, Yaqui did get a victory out of an historic night.