Ever since Andre Ward won the Super Six tournament several years ago, the Bay Area has grown as a destination spot for boxers hoping to improve their skills. That’s a testament to Ward’s impressive victories and the thoughtful approach and defensive tutelage of his trainer, Virgil Hunter. But there is also plenty of new boxing talent developing out of the Bay Area as well. In fact, it’s only a matter of time before two young boxers born and schooled in one East Bay boxing gym join Ward in the elite ranks of the sweet science.
A few feet away from the waters of the San Francisco Bay separating Oakland from Alameda sits Lightning’s Boxing Club, a gym that is producing some serious boxing talent.
Former two-time Golden Gloves champion Kris “Lightning” Lopez now runs one of the best youth boxing programs in Oakland. At least one of his pupil’s drives three hours to train with him. The environment in the warehouse-style gym is reminiscent of the vibe at Robert Garcia’s Boxing Academy in Oxnard: jovial but intense. There’s time for play and camaraderie, but Lopez puts his students, big and small, young and old alike, through their paces.
Two of his most prized students also happen to be his sons, Daniel “The Cannon” Lopez and Dynamite David Lopez.
Both recently returned from Puerto Rico with national championships in hand. It was the second for Daniel, the oldest of the Lopez brothers. We caught up with Daniel to chat about that victory, how he beat the son of two-time world champion Fernando Vargas and what the future holds for him.
Several years younger, 11-year-old Dynamite David Lopez is the No. 1 ranked 70-pound boxer in the country. You only need to watch him hit the mitts for a few seconds to realize that he’s destined for greatness.
Often when videos of kids hitting the mitts or shadow boxing go viral,they’re more show than substance. Casual fight fans or boxing novices see a few fast little arms whistle through the air, and they think they’re watching Floyd Mayweather. But if you look closely, those kids are often off-balance, out-of-position, fail to turn over their punches and don’t get full extension. They’re kids, after all. They have much to learn. But that’s not what we have in David Lopez.
The 11-year-old shows a level of poise not usually seen in fighters so young. His footwork matches — actually exceeds — the impressive hand skills he displays. The kid is smooth. Like any boxer, like every boxer, he’s still a work in progress, but there’s a level of sophistication to his game that is shocking the first time you see him train. Don’t take my word for it. Take a look for yourself.
As you can see, the young fighter even has the charisma of a champion. If he stays on the right path, Olympic medals, lineal titles and maybe, just maybe, boxing immortality could be in his future.
A former college wrestler, Taekwondo black-belt, and wannabe boxer, Paul Navarro (aka Fight Like Sugar) is now a full-time lawyer, part-time fight scribe, and high school wrestling coach.