Derrick Kelly Gains Welterweight Title at Forum : Hector Lopez Begins Comeback With Win, but Castillo Loses Split Decision

Times Staff Writer

Derrick Kelly won a championship and Hector Lopez won the first bout of his comeback and TV announcer/boxer Ruben Castillo may have been knocked back behind the microphone when he lost a decision in another comeback bout at the Forum Monday night.

Kelly, a Los Angeles welterweight who is 18-1 and ranked eighth in the world by the World Boxing Council, beat Luis Santana (38-8) on a 12-round unanimous decision to win the North American Boxing Federation welterweight title.

Lopez (18-1), who won an Olympic Games silver medal in Los Angeles in 1984 when he was a 17-year-old Glendale Hoover High junior, registered a 10-round unanimous decision over Rogelio Lopez (16-7).

Hector Lopez was boxing for the first time in 7 months, having spent part of that time in jail on kidnap charges involving his girlfriend.


Through those 7 months, Lopez retained his No. 1 WBC featherweight ranking, but he looked a bit less than that Monday night.

Hector was much the harder hitter against Rogelio, staggering his opponent several times. But he was unable to put him away. Or even down. Hector Lopez piled up a huge points lead with his quicker feet, leaping right hands, countering left hooks and left jabs for the first six rounds.

Hector then appeared to have decided that he couldn’t stop Rogelio, and switched to a movement strategy. Hector also seemed to run out of gas in the later rounds, and even he admitted he lacked sharpness.

Nonetheless, the judges scored it 98-94, 98-92 and 99-91 for Hector. The Times card was 99-90.

“I got tired, and I wasn’t sharp,” he said. “I hurt my left hand--the main knuckle--in the sixth round, so I kind of backed off from slugging with him then,” Hector said.

Rogelio Lopez, while he came up short in punching power and quickness, may have won the courage award. Hector, until he gave up trying to knock out Rogelio, landed some thumping shots to Rogelio’s head, particularly in the third and fourth rounds.

Hector opened the fourth round, for example, with 13 unanswered punches, but never backed up a step.

Wheeler wants to press now for a world title bout against any of the three federations’ champions--Jeff Fenech (WBC), Jorge Paez (Internatioanl Boxing Federation) or Antonio Esparragoza (World Boxing Association).

First, though, comes a Feb. 7 preliminary hearing on the kidnap charges he faces, in Pasadena Superior Court.

Kelly, too, is in search of a title. Any title.

“Derrick is ready for anyone in the world at 147 pounds,” said Richard Allen, his manager. Kelly-Santana wasn’t nearly as interesting as Lopez-Lopez. The boo birds started in at round 6, and howled periodically until the end. Kelly fought a retreating fight, peppering Santana’s swollen, cut face throughout with left jabs and countering left hooks.

The judges had Kelly comfortably ahead, 118-110, 117-111 and 117-112. The Times card: 118-110.

There were no knockdowns, but Kelly nearly took Santana out several times. In the sixth, Santana performed a pirouette when Kelly whacked him with a straight right.

In the last 40 seconds of the fight, Kelly came to life. He went on the attack, firing away from both sides, and turned the relentless Santana into a punching bag.

It was Kelly’s second win over Santana. He beat him in the Forum’s welterweight tournament in 1987. Santana had successfully defended the NABF championship four times. Santana had successfully defended the championship four times.

Castillo (65-6-2) lost a split decision to Santos Moreno (46-15-2), a verdict greeted by boos. Castillo, 31, didn’t thrill anyone with his sharpness, but he seemed to have been slightly sharper, slightly more in command.

But he got just one 96-95 score, the other two judges calling it for Moreno by 96-94 and 97-94.

Castillo, normally a Forum TV boxing commentator on Prime Ticket, screamed about the decision afterward. But he called the loss “a minor setback,” explaining that his enthusiasm for his comeback hasn’t dimmed.