Wednesday 23rd January 2019,

Of Prospects and Trial Horses


On December 12, undefeated super bantamweight Adam Lopez will face former world champion Eric Aiken on a six-round undercard bout at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, which is Lopez’s hometown. The headline bout will be a battle of former lightweight champions, now campaigning at 140 pounds, as undefeated Omar Figueroa Jr. faces the shop-worn but usually exciting Antonio DeMarcos.

There will be two relatively high-profile heavyweight bouts, with undefeated 2012 Olympian Dominic Breazeale taking on Charles Martin. Two-time world-title challenger Chris Arreola will battle the hard-slugging, once-beaten Travis Kaufman. There’s a lot to like about this card.

But I’m finding myself strangely fascinated by the six-rounder between Adam Lopez and Eric Aiken. Beyond the action in the ring, this is a matchup that demonstrates a lot about the way the sweet science works.

At 13-0, the 24-year-old Adam Lopez is ranked No. 8 by the WBA, on the strength of his two ShoBox wins this year over previously unbeatens Pablo Cruz and Eliecer Aquino. While Lopez is clearly on a nice run, it’s comical to call him a top-10 contender at this point. Aside from Cruz and Aquino, he’s defeated exactly two other fighters with winning records–17-15-2 Miguel Tamayo and 3-2-1 Adam Ochoa.

Cruz had never defeated a fighter with a winning record. He’d built the perfect 11-0 record that he brought into the ring against Lopez against fighters with a combined record of 14-60-2. A guy who builds an undefeated record against opponents with an average of less than 1.5 wins a piece isn’t a contender. He’s a calf being fattened for slaughter against somebody else who might, maybe, be a contender.

Acquino might have been a marginally better opponent than Cruz. Three of his 15 wins coming into his bout with Lopez were against fighters with winning records. But he’d also never fought outside of his native Dominican Republic prior to facing Lopez. And he followed up on his majority-decision loss to Lopez by getting knocked out by the undefeated Emmanuel Rodriguez.

Adam Lopez might be the prospect, but Aiken is the fighter in this bout that really got my attention. Talk about a blast from the past. Aiken hasn’t even had a fight since 2012, when he was knocked out by journeyman Bayan Jargal.

Aiken is probably most well known as the guy who was stopped by Robert Guerrero, for the Ghost’s first world title. He actually put together a pretty nice year in 2006. Aiken knocked out former bantamweight world champion Tim Austin in April of that year and a month later handed Valdemir Pereira his first loss, via DQ. Aiken dropped Pereira twice before Pereira was DQ’d for low blows in Round 8. When a fighter loses like that, it’s a good indication that he’s already getting his butt kicked.

But Aiken was stopped by Guerrero in his very next fight and hasn’t won since. He’s 0-6-1 with a No Contest in his last eight fights. He’s faded from a world champ to a trial horse.

But he still might be toughest test yet of Lopez’s career. At the very least, he’ll likely become a recognizable name on the young prospect’s resume.

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