I’ve never met a boxer who hasn’t made an impression on me, for invariably they’re very special individuals and something of a breed apart from most other sportspeople. Occasionally however you come across someone who makes a greater impression than most and such a man is Stratford’s Jose ’The Look’ Lopes. Currently residing in Tilbury, the highly articulate 27 year old cruiserweight has a keen intellect somewhat at odds with his violent trade, but as anyone will tell you intelligence without hard work rarely results in much at all. Lopes however has the discipline of character to translate potential into action and having graduated this month with a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of East London after a gruelling four years, he’s evidently a man prepared to graft and sacrifice for his goals. On 25th November he’ll be applying that same single-mindedness and steeliness of character to an altogether less academic objective as he bids for the Southern Area title on the packed ’Violent Engagement’ show by the Goodwin’s at York Hall, a top of the bill assignment from which he’s determined to emerge victorious.
Facing him across the ring on what will certainly be a well-attended night is the highly experienced, three time and defending champion Wadi ‘Machoman’ Camacho (18-7) out of Canning Town, and many are touting the match-up as a potential small-hall classic. With one loss on a nine fight ledger to Ossie Jervier in March this year, a man Camacho went on to beat in a below par performance just six months later, the statistics would suggest Lopes has it all to do, but there’s something in the quiet resoluteness of the Angolan born boxer that makes you think the form sheet may prove irrelevant. That controversial penultimate round stoppage against Jervier was a loss that Lopes is focused on proving was an aberration, and having bounced back with a superb three round TKO win over Slovakian Milan Cechvala in July he’ll be looking to produce an equally emphatic outcome against Camacho, and thus propel himself towards ultimately emulating his hero David Haye and unifying the division. That’s a pretty lofty goal, and one that will almost certainly remain a pipedream should he lose to the Machoman. With southpaw Camacho now aged 32 and with two losses in his last four bouts, the consequences of losing for either boxer are substantial. Historically of course such a high stakes context has given the fans some classic fights, and this one could be a cracker.
Father of one Lopes is fairly brimming over with anticipation: “Not long now! This is where it all starts for me. We’ve trained hard and I’m ready to take what’s mine. It’s my first title and the biggest night of my career. Studying for so long for my degree was hard, especially when you have to find the time to train, but I’m fully focused. You never know what will happen and I wanted something to fall back on, but if the boxing goes well hopefully I’ll never have to use it!” says the man trained by Paulo Muhongo at the Selby Boxing Club in Tottenham.
“Sparring has been great and this is the best camp I’ve had so far. I’m ready for anything he brings. I’m going to win this and move on, I’ve got big goals and I’m not here just to be the Southern Area champion. In my mind I know I can win and I’ve got to demonstrate that to the people. We’ve sparred, sure, but that was three years ago and I’d had only one fight, so if he’s thinking I’m still the same fighter he’s mistaken. I had little experience back then but I still gave him a good few rounds. I Jose and only me and my manager know what went on. I took a gamble and everyone knows I was in control. I won eight rounds out of the nine, whereas he was really hurting Wadi in their fight. Wadi thinks he’s more than he is and that’s what’s going to let him down on the night. I’m coming to take the belt and he’s in for a hard night, I’m ready man, I’m ready!”
Lopes is relishing fighting top of the bill at such a fabled venue as the York: “I’m thankful to Steve Goodwin for making the fight, and I’m going to get up there and show everyone what I can do. For my style Wadi is the best I could ever get, he’s not a clever southpaw, he just comes forward and that’s good for me. If he was a really good boxer then yes, I would have things to worry about but he’s not. I just can’t wait. After I win I’ll be looking to move on to another championship. I want to move on to a higher level and get more exposure. You’ve got to understand I’m young and I’m hungry and he’ll know all about it. It’s going to get hard for him, I’m going to start pushing up the pace and it won’t go ten rounds – I’m taking that belt.”
There’s no denying the confidence in Lopes and his very real sense of anticipation for the battle ahead is irresistibly infectious: “To the fans I would say it’s going to be explosive, and if you want to watch a good operator in the ring and be entertained for however long it lasts then get your tickets!!” I couldn’t put it any better myself Jose!
To purcharse direct from Jose for his next fight click here
(‘Violent Engagement’ takes place at the York Hall on Saturday 25th November)
Written by Andrew Fairley (@andrewfairley1)