Ariel Lopez Here to Show That It’s the Fighting That Matters

Being the main event in the greatest city in the world is a big deal, but as super bantamweight prospect Ariel Lopez approaches his headlining gig against Gregorio Lebron at Sony Hall in New York City this Thursday, he’s not feeling any pressure, because to him, each walk up those four steps into the ring is the biggest one of his life.

“Every fight is important for me, no matter what,” said Lopez. “I’ve always trained hard for every fight.”

That’s just the Cholula, Puebla, Mexico native being a pro. But he is well aware that there’s more involved when you’re the face on the poster. So more interviews, more social media and fielding ticket requests from family and friends. Add in that he’s 20-1-1 with 11 KOs as a pro and on the rise at 122 pounds, and the stakes get even higher. But this is exactly where “El Kuman” wants to be.

“Little by little, step by step, I’m still going up and I’m getting more,” Lopez said. “Now I’m trying to stay more active on social media and stuff like that. I’m not really good with the social media [laughs], but I’m trying to post more now. I’m getting a lot more followers because of this fight, because of Heather [Hardy]. She’s helping me out a lot with this, too.”

Heather Hardy, a former world champion and one of the area’s most respected and popular fighters, has recently started advising local talent at Gleason’s Gym in Lopez’ adopted hometown of Brooklyn. And she sees something special in Lopez.

“If I had to summarize him, he is the male version of Heather Hardy’s fighting style,” she said. “He fights for his two kids, keeps his head down in the gym, and when I say that he’s a male Heather Hardy, if you put him in there with a bulldog, he won’t come out until coach says it’s time. You drop him in and it’s like Jordan (Maldonado) used to say about Amanda (Serrano): he put her in the ring and would then go make sandwiches, leave them in their sparring until he was ready to come back. That’s this kid.”

Hardy also describes him as “very shy,” which could be a problem in this day and age, but when you’re a hungry action fighter with Mexican blood, that makes up for not being a TikTok wizard. But don’t take that the wrong way – Lopez isn’t in the ring to recklessly wade into a firefight. He’s there to win while entertaining the fans and showing his skills in the process.

“I feel like it’s different nowadays,” he admits. “They expect a Mexican fighter to just go out there and throw punches and not move his head. That’s what everybody wants, to see who the toughest guy is. That’s a little bit of pressure because they expect the Mexicans to go in and destroy the person. But I feel like I could do a little of both. If the knockout comes, then it’s on the way, but if you’re doing a good job boxing, then keep boxing. The important thing is to come up victorious.”

He points to the fights between Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez as the ones he admires, where there were plenty of heated exchanges, but just as much high-level skill and boxing, as well. And if you’re already thinking that seeing a young fighter with a dash of Marquez, Vazquez and Hardy infused into his style is one you want to see, well, that makes up for not Tweeting every 20 minutes.

And that’s the point. Ariel Lopez is a reminder that in the fight game, fighting still counts.