Twenty-Four Years Ago Today, Miguel “Happy” Lora Captured WBC Bantamweight Title
By Jaime Castro-Núñez - Can we boxing fans forget Miguel “Happy” Lora, the boxer who moved the hips like Shakira? I don’t think so…
Article posted on 09.08.2009
Born Miguel Lora Escudero on April 12, 1961, he started to box at an early age, as he grew up following Colombian legends Cipriano “Barbulito” Zuluaga and Enrique “Quique” Higgins. His path to glory started in 1977, when he won the gold medal in the National Tournament of Boxing, held in his native Montería. Three years later he captured the WBC Fecarbox super flyweight title and in 1982 he won the Colombian super flyweight belt. In 1983 he defeated countryman Rubén Darío Palacios to win the vacant WBC Continental Americas bantamweight title. From 1983 to 1985 Lora kept his victorious career, which called the attention of Miami-based boxing promoter Félix “Tuto” Zabala, who promptly recognized Lora’s talent. Then he started to train under the tutelage of Amilcar Brusa..
On August 9, 1985, exactly 24 years ago today, an undefeated Lora fought in Miami his 24th bout against Mexican champion Daniel Zaragoza for the WBC bantamweight belt. It was a historic night for Lora, who gave Zaragoza a boxing lesson throughout the fight, dropping him three times. At the end of the night, Tony Castellano scored the bout 116-109, Miguel Doante wrote 118-107, and Lou Filippo scored 115-110, all to the winner, by unanimous decision, and new champion of the world, from Montería, Colombia, Miguel “Happy” Lora.
Miguel “Happy” Lora defended the belt three times in 1986, first against tough Puerto Rican Wilfredo Vázquez, a bout that Lora himself would remember as the hardest of his entire career. Then he easily dispatched Dominican Enrique Sánchez, and three months later he out pointed American Alberto Dávila in a 12-round war celebrated in Barranquilla before 50.000 spectators. In the same year he was elected Colombia’s Sportsman of the Year. On July 25, 1987, Lora continued his victorious path knocking out Antonio Avelar, and four months later he managed to win over Ray Minus. In 1988 he defended the belt for the sixth time against Lucio “Metralleta” López in Barranquilla. Months later, in Inglewood, CA, he out boxed Alberto Dávila. Miguel “Happy” Lora’s reign ended when he faced Raúl “Jíbaro” Pérez in Las Vegas, NV. After that loss, he unsuccessfully tried to capture the WBO bantamweight belt, first against Gaby Cañizales and then against Rafael del Valle. Lora´s final record was 40-3-0 with 17 Ko’s.
During the years as a champion, Miguel “Happy” Lora was well-known for his charisma and exquisite style and was considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters at the time. His best punches were the left hook and the jab, which saved him many times. He was confident and his natural talent made of him on of the best bantamweights in the history of the sport. Today he lives in his native Montería and serves as sports advisor to city Major Marcos Daniel Pineda.
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