Matthew Saad Muhammad retains his light heavyweight crown
1980-07-13 : Matthew Saad Muhammad 174¼ lbs beat Yaqui Lopez 173¾ lbs by TKO at 2:03 in round 14 of 15
Location: Great Gorge Playboy Club, McAfee, New Jersey, USA
Referee: Waldemar Schmidt 124-123
Judge: Frank Brunette 125-122
Judge: Paul Cavalier 125-123
World Boxing Council Light Heavyweight Title (4th defense by Saad Muhammad)
See also: Matthew Saad Muhammad vs. Yaqui Lopez (1st meeting)
The Ring Magazine named the bout Fight of the Year for 1980 and the 84th greatest title fight of all-time in 1996.
The Ring Magazine named the eighth stanza Round of the Year for 1980 and the 8th most exciting round in boxing history in 2001.
“It was pretty much the toughest fight I’ve had recently,” Muhammad said Sunday after stopping Lopez in the 14th round to retain his World Boxing Council light heavyweight title. “I went on to prove I’m the undisputed light heavyweight champion.”
Well, he’s still the champion, but it’s far from undisputed. Muhammad is the man the WBC recognizes while the World Boxing Association gives the nod to Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, the former Eddie Gregory.
After the fight, however, it looked like Lopez was the new champion.
The 28-year-old native of Stockton, Calif., was fresh and full of life despite cuts on his nose, cheek and under his left eye. He was talking freely and graciously.
Muhammad, who disappeared for 90 minutes after the fight, was speaking softly, obviously exhausted, his right eye puffy. Every word out of his mouth seemed to sap what little energy he had left.
“I don’t usually look like this,” he said, patting his face. “I usually look pretty good.”
But it was the 26-year-old Muhammad, coming back from absorbing 25 consecutive shots in the eighth round, who delivered the crunching blows when it counted most. Somehow he stayed on his feet while Lopez flailed away, and it cost Yaqui because he punched himself out.
Muhammad, riding his second wind, floored the game Lopez four times in the 14th round — all with powerful right hands — before referee Waldemar Schmidt of Puerto Rico dashed in to stop the bout at 2:03.
It was a terrific contest with Muhammad and Lopez standing toe-to-toe, slugging it out. Both are known as damaging punchers also capable of taking punishment, and that pattern was established early. On more than one occasion each looked ready to go but never more so than in the eighth round when Muhammad was in never-never land as Lopez unloaded punch after punch.
“I feel truthfully he had me in trouble,” Muhammad said in whisper tones. “I won’t sit here and deny it. But at all times I knew I would be victorious.
“I was aware of every moment of the fight,” he said. “The pace was very fast. And I was getting careless. Yaqui is a very experienced fighter but I proved myself to be unbeaten.”
Muhammad, 27-3-2, was ahead on the cards of all three judges, putting on a tremendous rally after avoiding the knockout. Schmidt said he never considered stopping the bout at that point, although Muhammad was in trouble.
Starting with the ninth round, Muhammad won every round going into the 14th and what turned out to be the final round in the scheduled 15-round affair.
Muhammad put Lopez down for the first time 30 seconds into the 14th round with a left-right, left-right combination. He decked him three more times and then leaped to his feet as Schmidt ended the fight.
Just how long Muhammad can go on taking so much punishment is not certain. He has developed a reputation as being easy to hit and was a stationary target for many of Lopez’ shots.
Muhammad, who earned a reported $150,000 in his fourth title defense, said his next challenge will be to unify the title by fighting the other Muhammad.
Lopez, 49-10, is now winless in four title chances. He was paid $40,000.