The list of to-do’s seemed simple enough.
There were quick jabs and constant movement. There was the discipline of keeping his distance and maintaining his aggression.
At a sparring session at the Coronel Boxing Club in Sylmar, 23-year-old Damien Lopez worked diligently to prepare for an upcoming fight against a challenging opponent.
The 2013 Burbank High graduate shifted from the center of the ring to the outskirts of the ropes to work his sparring opponent, Cristian Coria, a 5-foot-9 boxer out of Argentina.
Lopez’s session simulated much of the situations he will face when he takes on boxer Moris Rodriguez, his upcoming opponent in his 10th professional bout set fro Saturday evening at the Commerce Casino.
Lopez is ready for the challenge.
“He hasn’t seen a fighter like me,” said Lopez, who is undefeated in nine professional bouts. “He hasn’t felt power like me. He hasn’t felt speed like me. He hasn’t felt defense like me or movement like me. I’m just completely different. Sometimes they call me awkward.”
Lopez, a former Burbank High football player, is a 5-foot-10 welterweight with an 8-0-1 record with five knockouts. Though Rodriguez holds a 7-13-1 record, Lopez acknowledges records are not an accurate reflection of a fighter, and that every boxer is different.
Nevertheless, Lopez is confident his strengths will overwhelm his upcoming opponent. After all, his nickname is “El Machine.”
“It’s going to be my advantage,” said Lopez, who had 49 amateur fights before turning pro in June of 2016. “It seems like this opponents haven’t had anyone that punches as much as I do continuously and staying in front of him at the same time.
“[Rodriguez] is slightly shorter, about the same height as [Coria]. He’s not bad. He throws a lot of punches, but I guess he throws lazy punches and that’s what I’m going to try to catch him with.”
To keep him on his toes, Lopez hones in his ringside coaches’ advice, words from father David Lopez and Burbank Boxing Club trainer Steve Harpst.
“He’s a straight-forward fighter,” said David of his son’s opponent. “His record doesn’t show it, but he puts up a good battle.”
As Lopez prepares for his bout, his father said he’s grown with every fight in one aspect or another.
“He’s getting a little stronger, definitely,” said David. “You can tell. I think he’s also getting smarter. In the beginning, he was a little more wild on shots, so the control of that is getting a little better. Just little by little, you can see his maturity in the boxing ring.
“Just like any other sport. You start to see the progress in it — his power, his stamina, being smarter in the ring and not taking so many shots. Things like that.”
Lopez has represented the Burbank Boxing Club since he was 10. The club formally called the Burbank YMCA home before the club was cast out of the facility after many years. But as the program has grown in numbers, Harpst and the Lopez family ave bounced around to bigger facilities to accommodate.
Harpst, who’s known the Lopez family for more than a decade, said the 146-pound fighter has grown tremendously since his professional debut, and the longtime coach and Burbank Boxing Club founder knows what it takes for Lopez to be successful against his tough opponent.
“He improves every fight,” Harpst said. “Every fighter is different and he has to make the adjustment. He has to know how to make the adjustment. His skill requires it.”