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Celebrities and boxing: Mario Lopez

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He's had his scalp stapled shut. A powerful punch snapped a rib. And currently he's nursing a torn rotator cuff. The battle scars of a professional boxer? Not exactly, but close.

A far cry from his days as A.C. Slater on "Saved by the Bell," Mario Lopez uses that phrase in a much different way today. For the better part of a decade, Lopez has been the color analyst for HBO International's major fight coverage. He's garnered fans across the world, not only for his acting, but for his immense boxing knowledge.

"I watch boxing all the time. I not only watch it, I spar and train in Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym at least three days a week."
Mario Lopez

"I grew up watching boxing with my dad and grandfather. There's a lot of Latinos in the sport, and Mexican specifically, so it was one of the few places I saw my heritage represented at such a high level. I love everything about boxing. It's the purest form of sport. Man on man, no one to rely on but yourself. If you win, it's because of you. You get all the glory. There's nothing else like it. Whether it's the Super Bowl or the NBA Finals, nothing compares to the energy and the electricity of a championship fight."

Lopez is one of the busiest guys in Hollywood, hosting the daily entertainment show "Extra" and a five-hour nightly syndicated radio show "On with Mario Lopez" that is heard throughout the U.S. and Canada. He has also hosted several TV shows, produced films and even found time to write best-selling books. But whenever he can, he's in front of a TV or in an arena watching boxing.

"I watch boxing all the time. I not only watch it, I spar and train in Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym at least three days a week. I don't know how to do anything halfway so my training is pretty intense. I spar at least once a week, sometimes three. There's something called Old Dogs where I fight guys in my age range. Theoretically, it's probably not the best move for me. I make my money with my face," he laughed. "A lot of people count on me. But it's important to me. It's an outlet to de-stress. I'm a much more balanced and relaxed person because of it. If I didn't have that outlet, I'd probably go a little crazy. My agents wonder why I don't take up golf."

If you've been to a big fight, chances are you'll see Lopez ringside.

"There's nothing like it," he said. "I know all the fighters, the trainers and promoters. It's such a fun and colorful world. And sitting ringside, you really see the speed, the power of the punches, and the conditioning some of these guys have with the pace they keep. And you see the brutal savagery. It's a controlled assault, but a thing of beauty too."

Like many, Lopez wasn't sure if the biggest fight on every boxing fan's mind, Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao, would ever happen. Lopez was shocked when it was announced, tweeting, "It's a little too late but finally some closure to this Pacquiao-Mayweather saga! Boxing and its fans can move on."

Prior to the announcement, Lopez said there are other fights he'd like to see.

"I'd really like to see Canelo [Alvarez]/[Miguel] Cotto. I'd love to see [unified light heavyweight titlist Sergey] Kovalev against [champion] Adonis Stevenson. I'd even like to see [heavyweight champion Wladimir] Klitschko take on [titlist] Deontay Wilder."

All that said, Lopez knows who he wants to win come May 2.

"I'm biased because I knew Pacquiao since he came to the States. I train at the same gym he does at Wild Card. So I'm always pulling for him. Manny and Freddie Roach are my guys, and I know they'll do what needs to be done to win."

In addition to his "Extra" and "On with Mario Lopez" duties, Lopez just produced "Champs" (now in theaters), a documentary featuring Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Bernard Hopkins and their lives inside and outside the ring. You can find him on Twitter @MarioLopezExtra.

Norm Whitehurst can be reached on Twitter @NormWhitehurst