At the age of 34, Joe is a four-year pro. A veteran at 160 pounds, he has an exciting style in the ring and a strong fan base in his home area of Fresno – he draws enthusiastic crowds to his fights, known as “The Smokeshow.”
In his last fight on September 23 in Fresno, California, he won by fifth-round TKO against Jose Leon.
The scheduled 6-rounder was one of the co-features at Valdez Hall, and the early rounds were fast-paced, exciting, and close. Joe scored a knockdown with a left hook to the body in the 5th round – Leon got up, but the referee stopped the fight at 2:39.
In his previous fight on December 2 in Fresno, California, he lost a six-round unanimous decision against Quilisto Madera. The bout was on the undercard of the “Fight for Water 6” event, headlined by the Jose Ramirez vs. Issouf Kinda main event.
Daniel Gligich of The Collegian, Fresno State University’s student-run newspaper, reported from ringside [excerpts]: The undercard featured many great fights. The best one took place immediately before the Ramirez fight.
That bout featured Joe Louie Lopez of Fresno and Quilisto Madera of Stockton. This is the fiercest rivalry in the Valley, with both fighters out for blood. Even at the weigh-in Thursday, the police were needed to keep the two boxers from going after each other.
The two enemies wasted no time, going for the kill from the opening bell. Lopez was the clear fan favorite in his hometown with the crowd chanting for him.
The fight was fairly even throughout but featured a lot of blood. In the second round, Lopez got cut near his left eye, which caused major bleeding and swelling.
Both boxers got great hits in, and every punch to the face splattered blood all over the ring. In the end, it was Lopez’s left eye that made the difference. The swelling affected his vision, which limited his abilities.
Quilisto capitalized and was able to win the fight by unanimous decision, scored 59-53 by each judge. When the fight ended, Lopez and Quilisto embraced each other, showing respect that neither had ever shown the other before. [End Gligich item]
Joe said, “My style is versatile – I’d say I’m a boxer-puncher. I love the aspect of boxing, trying to figure someone out. I’m not one to rush in and start swinging for the fences, but I’ll do what needs to be done. I try to do the opposite of what the other guy is doing. One guy I look to and I really love his style is Andre Ward. Whether that’s what other people see in me or not, that’s what I like to see.
“My nickname is Smokin’ Joe. It kind of evolved. When I fight here in town, it’s like a big event so they call me ‘The Smokeshow.’ I didn’t even give myself that name – they just called me that.”
AMATEUR, PERSONAL BACKGROUND: Joe said, “I was born in South Lake Tahoe, California. I have three sisters. My mother’s family is from Fresno and my father’s family is from the Bay Area. My parents lived in Fresno, they just happened to be in Lake Tahoe when I was born. My mother is retired now – she was a caregiver for elderly people and also worked in retail her whole life. My father, I’m not really in touch with him. I haven’t been in touch with him for most of my life. I grew up with my mom. My grandfather boxed in the Navy, I believe, just as an amateur.
“I always loved boxing. I’ve always been into it, but growing up here in Fresno, I couldn’t find a boxing gym. There were probably two, but I didn’t know how to get into them. I was already into football in high school and junior college – I played running back and safety. I was going to go to a Division I or Division II college, but I got injured and that prevented me from furthering my career in football.
“I was shot in a drive-by here in Fresno. There was a drive-by at a local party. I was probably 22, 23 when that happened – I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I got shot directly behind the Achilles tendon in my left leg – it didn’t hit the Achilles tendon, it went right behind it. It took a while to recover from that and while I was recovering, it ran out my clock – once you go into junior college your clock starts, and I ran out of time. But I kept working out and staying in shape and worked a few jobs here and there. I also started training people as an athletic trainer as a part-time job on the side.
“I was about 25 years old when I started boxing. Since my football career was basically over, I walked into a boxing gym and thought I’d give it a try. The first person I’ve met was my coach, Bryan Williams. He told me, ‘If you stick to this and give it 120 percent, you can make something out of it. You just naturally move well as a boxer. You just seem like you were born to do this. I’ll train you.’ It took off from there.
“Everyone at the gyms I would go to were like, ‘How long have you been boxing?’ I would say, ‘I’ve never boxed.’
“Since I started boxing, everything has been a blur because boxing took over everything. I look back at college football and I kind of forget it.
“I only had eight amateur fights – five wins, three losses. The first five were great, they were easy. I was 5-0 and I thought to myself, ‘Man, my coach was right. This is easy.’ And then I went to the Golden Gloves, the regular state championship at the elite level. That’s when I realized, ‘I can’t just be a good athlete, I’ve got to learn how to box.’ Those experiences are what made me better. It tore me down a little bit. It shook my confidence, but I realized I needed to do something to become a better boxer. It was a reality check.
“I’m naturally right-handed. I still train people part-time.”…