1970-02-15 Jose Napoles w rsc 15 (15) Ernie Lopez, Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA - WORLD

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1970-02-15 Jose Napoles w rsc 15 (15) Ernie Lopez, Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA - WORLD. Referee: Larry Rozadilla. Punching with machine-like precision, Napoles (145½) opened up to drop Lopez (146) in the first round and although the latter did well in the opening four sessions, mainly with hard rights to the head, once the champion got on top there was no stopping him. His accurate left jab would find Lopez all night, and in the ninth and 15th he put ‘Indian Red’ over for two more knockdowns. Towards the end of the contest Lopez had shot his bolt, but although still trying to take Napoles out with one blow he was totally weakened and out of steam. Having disposed of his leading challenger, Napoles was given time out by the commissions to sort out his next opponent and maybe a shot at the middleweight title.

In early July it was announced that he would be making a defence against Austria’s European champion, Johann Orsolics, on 12 November following a couple of warm-up bouts. Then, at the end of August, it was reported that the only thing that could prevent the fight taking place would be if Orsolics was defeated by Eddie Perkins, which unfortunately happened at the Trade Hall, Vienna, Austria on 3 September when the European champion was knocked out in the fourth round.

It was then stated that Napoles would take on Perkins in Chicago on 20 October before that too fell through when the promoters could not work out a TV deal. Finally, Napoles signed for what he considered an easy defence against Billy Backus, who was the nephew of former champion, Carmen Basilio. With an in-and-out record of 29 wins in 43 fights Backus had actually retired earlier in his career, but had come back to earn a number-two rating after beating Percy Pugh (twice) and Manuel Gonzalez. An awkward southpaw who came forward incessantly, he had won the New York State title when beating Ricky Ortiz.