Johnny Garton

Jose Lopes

A win is a win for a boxer, right? Well, no, and certainly not in the case of cruiserweight Jose Lopes. The Stratford based undefeated fighter (4-0-0) was last in action in September, when he claimed a points victory over six rounds against Reinis Porozovs of Latvia. However for Lopes, as much as he was happy to keep the momentum in his fledgling professional career, it wasn't the win that he wanted at York Hall as he tells me: "I wasn't pleased with my performance and people could see that; when I get into the ring I just want to knock people out and bring excitement and he was just trying to survive and not get hurt which he has a right to do. I just need to learn from it. I dropped him in the third round but it wasn't enough."

Porozovs is becoming familiar to York Hall fans, his fight with Lopes was followed up by a creditable draw with also young and undefeated cruiserweight Louie Darlin. But for Lopes that is no consolation, as he says himself he was after the big knockout victory and he was going to lengths to try and achieve it. "He's an awkward customer, he came in trying to spoil my work, holding on" says the imposing 25 year old, who officially stands at six foot three and always come to the ring in peak physical condition. "I wanted him to get involved and have a fight but he just held me. I wanted to put on a show so I was chatting to him in the ring saying 'let's fight, let's have a fight' but he didn't! I gave him the roar but it still didn't work. It is what it is, he's here to get paid and not to get knocked out so he did what he had to do. Even at the end of the fight I was still fresh because I didn't get to do any work. He has that experience to not get hurt and I'm the one who should have found a way to stop him or make it into a fight."

On top of the ring chatter to his opponent there was also a moment where Lopes was happy to drop his gloves to his side and roar at the top of his voice at his opponent mid round. The lion impression was met with huge appreciation from his impressive following fans but despite its intentions, it still didn't persuade Porozovs to engage mid ring with him. In his subsequent fight with Londoner Darlin, Porozovs was more physical and front foot as a fighter, attempting to push and manipulate Darlin towards the ropes and ensure that any of the home fighters best work was spoilt. It was a frustration that Lopes could sympathise with, but he assures me that although the ending he sought didn't come, there were lessons learnt that night which will assist him now through his career:

"I worked out I had the wrong mindset, I wanted to knock him out whereas I'm a boxer. I was looking for one shot to knock him out instead of doing what I should do which is boxing using my skills. I got the win, you learn and move on. If I meet any more opponents like that I know what to do with them now, you need these fights for the experience. Next time I will have a look at my opponent as well, which I didn't do this time!"

It is clear that one lesson the likeable cruiserweight has picked up is to do his due diligence on opponents in advance. For his next outing, on December 5th at York Hall, he will again be facing an awkward Eastern European adversary, this time Tomislav Rudan (5-6-1) of Croatia. The only stoppage loss in his career came way back in 2008 on his debut, so it is the ideal opportunity for Lopes to put into practice the pointers he picked up with Porozovs. Lopes has been training hard in the gym, overseen by trainer Don Charles, and insists his camp has been going well. He says December 5th is his chance to prove his previous display wasn't a defining one. "You always get judged by your last performance and I know I have to make it up because my last performance wasn't good enough he tells me in an honest and reflective manner. "I look forward to the next one, I won't rush it and I'll do what I do best which is to box him. If the knockout comes then great but if it doesn't then it's not a problem."
  
When Lopes comes out on December 5th on the Goodwin Promotions show ‘Night of War’ it will be a different look and feel to York Hall.  For their shows, gone is the appearance of the leisure centre and instead the place has more of a ‘big event’ feel to it with impressive staging for fighters to enter from, smoke machines to add mystique to the ring walk, entrance videos and music pumped into the arena.  So what does Lopes make of the new setup from his promotional team?  “It's really good, I've seen the videos and it's amazing. He's the first one doing it in small halls in the UK which is a big deal. It's a good thing to be involved with Goodwin Promotions, they're going to come up and will take over in the UK I'm sure. They will be one of if not the biggest promoters here.”
 
Lopes recognises the ambitions of those in charge of his career and in return, he has similar ambitions of his own.  December will be the second time that his fight has been scheduled for six rounds, but he sees that soon he will be progressing further.  “It was six rounds last time and this will be my second. Hopefully in March I will get my first eight round fight.”  So once he has moved through the gears to an eight round contest, how quickly does he see himself moving onto the championship distances and hunting for belts?  “For next year I want to be looking at titles, certainly the Southern area. Whoever holds the title I'm happy to fight.  I'm looking to win the titles, but Steve and the team will tell me when I'm ready. If they ask me, I'm a fighter and will tell them I'm ready to fight anyone right now! That's why you need someone there to guide you. I would say December of next year I will be fighting for a title.”

At present the Southern Area title is in the possession of stablemate Lawrence Bennett but he has his vision set on bigger prizes as he is due to rematch Matty Askin in early 2016 for the English cruiserweight title.  Rumours have circled that another Goodwin Promotions fighter, former Prizefighter champion Wadi Camacho, is in line for a Southern area title shot and there are a host of other upcoming boxers under the Goodwin banner in the weight class, the likes of Louie Darlin, Mark Little, Spiros Demetriou and Karl Wheeler.  So does Lopes see it as a problem that so many big men are vying for position?  “It's good, that way we can make the fights happen as we're all in the same promotional company.  I know all of them so I don't want to say anything bad, but if we are fighting for a title then we put our friendships to the side and fight for the belt.  It doesn't change anything.”

That attitude is reflective of Jose Lopes.  In the ring he is undoubtedly a fighter, someone with an immense bag of skills but also the desire to hurt his opponent.  Out of the ring he is kind, friendly and wears a smile constantly.  Should he put in a performance that he is happy with on December 5th and make a statement in stopping the durable Tomislav Rudan, the smile will not be far away.  The same, as it seems, with the title opportunities.

Lopes wanted to thank his sponsors who support his career, Vertical Scaffolding and Automatic Garage.