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Unbeaten Lopez looks to continue success in pro boxing ranks

Unbeaten Lopez looks to continue success in pro boxing ranks
Professional boxer and Burbank High graduate Damien Lopez, right, works out with Steve Harpst at the Burbank Boxing Club at the Burbank YMCA. (Miguel Vasconcellos)

Damien Lopez remembers the rigorous workouts he endured as a football player at Burbank High.

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A 2013 graduate, Lopez attributes his workouts with the Bulldogs for helping develop his stamina and instill in him the work ethic to stay in shape and be successful.

Lopez, 22, has been able to carry over that work ethic and stamina into the professional boxing ranks. Lopez, who represents the Burbank Boxing Club at the Burbank Community YMCA, turned pro in June of 2016 after 49 amateur fights and has enjoyed success in the ring as he remains unbeaten after six bouts.

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“I really think my stamina in boxing comes from all the years that I played football,” Lopez said. “In football, we would have very tough workouts and we would be doing something usually every day. I think I have been able to transfer that to boxing.

“There are some of the same things that I learned in football about staying in shape that is the same in boxing. It’s all about working hard if you want to be successful.”

Lopez began playing football at age 9 and took up boxing at the Burbank Boxing Club one year later. He continued to train in boxing while he played youth football and at Burbank High.

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“He just has a great engine and he just keeps going and moving forward,” Burbank Boxing Club trainer Steve Harpst said. “He just goes and he’s just got that kind of motor. He is in great shape and he really takes his workouts seriously and he stays in great shape.

“He has always been in the gym and he is always in shape. He’s not one of these kids that you have to keep an eye on that he’s doing what he needs to do. He is always in the gym. And when he fights, he just goes at opponents. I say he fights like he has a pizza in the oven.”

Lopez, a welterweight who is 5-feet-10, fights at 146 pounds and is trained by his father David, put his stamina to work in his last bout. In his first six-round fight, Lopez knocked out Rodolfo Gamez in the fifth round at Valley Fight Night at the Burbank Marriott Convention Center in April.

Lopez, who goes by the nickname “El Machine” improved to 5-0-1 with three knockouts. Harpst estimated Lopez averaged 150 punches per round against Gamez.

“That’s why they call me the machine, I just keep going,” said Lopez, who lives in Santa Clarita. “I felt really good in that fight and I could have gone eight or even 12 rounds if I needed to. I like to throw a lot of punches and I try to wear the other guy down.

“I am like any boxer that I want to learn from every fight and I want to keep getting better. I always want to prove myself and I know there is always room for improvement and I try to keep getting better.”

Harpst said he is in the process of setting up the next fight for Lopez, which could be as early as later in June or July. All of his professional bouts have taken place in Southern California, with two of the last three in Burbank.

“I think Damien is such a good example for the other boxers in our club,” Harpst said. “I see the amateur kids and the little kids in our club; they are looking to see how hard he works and they start to follow suit. They are like ‘Wow, if he can do it maybe we can too.’

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“He has been with us since he was 10 years old and just to see how much he has progressed is amazing. But he has been successful because he has the desire and he has put in the hard work. It really gives me a great deal of pride to see his success. There isn’t much loyalty in anything anymore, especially in boxing, and for him to stay with us all this time, I just couldn’t be more proud of that fact.”

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