By Francisco Salazar
Photo: German Villasenor
Josesito Lopez has not stepped inside the ring yet against Victor Ortiz. He will do so on Saturday night at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. However, Lopez thinks that Ortiz has landed a significant blow against him within the last couple of weeks. It was not a left cross or right hook by the southpaw Ortiz. Instead, it was the announcement that Ortiz will fight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on September 15th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV. That did not sit well with the normally soft-spoken Lopez, who felt slighted by the actions of Golden Boy Promotions, who promotes Ortiz.
However, Lopez is not going to sulk or complain. Instead, he is preparing for this fight, which he admits is the biggest fight of his career and he is ready to shock the world on Saturday night.
The 12 round welterweight bout between Ortiz and Lopez will headline a seven-bout card presented by Golden Boy Promotions, in association with Goossen Tutor and Thompson Boxing Promotions.
The bout, along with the Humberto Soto-Lucas Matthysse bout, will be televised on Showtime at 9PM ET/ 6PM PT.
Lopez, (29-4, 17 KOs) from Riverside, CA, is coming off a close 12 round split decision loss to Jessie Vargas on September 17th. Ironically, Lopez fought on the same card that featured Floyd Mayweather knocking Ortiz out in the fourth round.
Unlike a few fighters, Lopez is not dwelling on the loss to Vargas. Instead, he is moving on, eager to prove to the boxing world that he is one victory away from joining the elite in the welterweight division.
“It was tough taking that loss (against Vargas) when you work so hard,” Lopez told Fightnews.com in a telephone interview on Tuesday night. “However, I learned from it and have no regrets. I feel stronger and my punches are a lot harder. I’ve had great preparation for this fight and hoping to not leave this fight to the judges.”
Lopez received the fight against Ortiz last month, when it was discovered that Andre Berto, whom Ortiz was to fight in a rematch, allegedly tested positive for a banned substance.
This will be Lopez’s second significant bout at the welterweight limit.
Much has been publicized in recent weeks when Ortiz was chosen to face super welterweight world title belt holder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on September 15th. Ortiz was chosen to replace Paul Williams, who suffered a possible career-ending back injury in a motorcycle accident outside Atlanta. For now, Williams has lost the use of both legs.
Golden Boy Promotions, who promotes Ortiz, explained that the fight against Alvarez will go forward as long as Ortiz does not lose to Lopez on Saturday night. While negotiations for Alvarez-Ortiz went public, it did not sit will with Lopez or his co-promoters, Dan Goossen and Ken Thompson.
“I was a little surprised and not expecting that,” said the 27 year old, who had won seven fights in a row prior to his loss to Vargas. “I found it disrespectful. I don’t need anymore motivation for this fight, but I think it’s a big mistake from Golden Boy to put a fight together. It’s not going to be easy, but I want to go in there and spoil everything.”
Lopez has had the services of Henry Ramirez, who has trained him since he was 16 years of age.
“He has been saying that this could be my ‘Rocky’ moment,” said Lopez. “We have that mentality of go big or go home.”
Since he took the fight against Ortiz, Lopez has been sparring with three southpaw fighters, all from Southern California and all focusing on a strength that Ortiz has.
“I’ve been sparring against Oscar Andrade, Jose Reynoso, and Rashad Hughes. One fighter comes forward like Victor. One moves around and uses angles like him. It has really helped me to prepare for anything that he wants to bring to the ring on Saturday night.”
While Lopez has had numerous high points in his young career, there was a time that Lopez stepped away from the sport.
Lopez lost a close and somewhat disputed 10 round majority decision to Edgar Santana in April of 2008. Lopez spent time away from the gym, dabbled in real estate, and decided to return to the ring.
It was one of the best decisions Lopez made, even though he missed the sport while he took time away from the ring.
“I felt a little discouraged after the Santana fight, especially after I thought I won the fight. I decided to step away and take some time off. I refocused and went back to the gym. Since then, I felt that I have gotten better with every fight. I’m a late bloomer and with the experience I’ve have, I feel that I’m putting everything together.”
Lopez will have a sizable contingent of fans inside STAPLES Center on Saturday night. He would love to reward them for being loyal through the good and bad in his career with a career-defining victory over Ortiz.
“Their support has been the world to me. My friends and family and a lot of people have seen that I have no quit in me and I would love to give something back for all of their support.”
Although Lopez is 27, he understands that he may not get many opportunities such as these if he loses to Ortiz on Saturday night. Motivation or not, Lopez has put aside his thoughts about the proposed fight between Alvarez and Ortiz.
Instead, he wants to shock the world and put himself there among the best at 147. A victory over Ortiz on Saturday night will do just that.
“I know that a victory over Ortiz is within my reach.”