Former world welterweight titleholder Josesito Lopez (31-6, 18 KOs) will make his 2014 debut April 24 when he takes on fellow Southern California boxer Aron Martinez (19-2-1, 4 KOs) on a special ESPN Thursday Night Fights at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage, California.
Lopez captured the welterweight championship in 2012 when he stopped heavily-favored Victor Ortiz. Trailing on all three scorecards, Lopez convinced Ortiz to quit by breaking his jaw.
The victory earned Lopez a shot at junior middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in Las Vegas, Nevada, three months later. Alvarez mowed Lopez down with ease, flooring him three times en route to a sixth-round stoppage. Lopez returned to the ring nine months later against tough Marcos Maidana at the Home Depot Center (now the Stub Hub Center) in Carson, California.
Lopez looked sharp that night. He boxed intelligently, using the ring and jabbing. He resisted standing toe-to-toe with Maidana. In round six, Maidana drew closer. He pushed Lopez into the ropes and let fly with an overhand right. The blow sent Lopez crashing to the canvas. He hauled himself up, but was soon being battered. The assault prompted referee Lou Moret to wave off the contest.
The loss crushed Lopez. He howled in protest, but the referee's decision appeared just.
Five months ago, he was back in the ring. His opponent was former junior welterweight contender Mike Arnaoutis. Arnaoutis, who came into the fight with nine losses, scored a flash knockdown in round three. Lopez fought well in spurts, but also struggled. Lopez notched the victory in the 8th round when Arnaoutis couldn’t continue due to a cut from an accidental head butt over his left eye.
“I’m not entirely happy with my performance,” said the always classy Lopez to Michelle Chong of myboxingfans.com after the fight. He’ll have to perform better if he expects to beat Martinez.
“This is Josesito's opportunity to put himself right back into the mix of one of the hottest divisions in boxing today," said Dan Goossen, President of Goossen Tutor Promotions.
"Quite frankly, Martinez knows the same thing. What's at stake here is someone's career, which will bring out the very best from both fighters in what will be terrific for the Southern California boxing fans and those watching the ESPN telecast."
Martinez, 32, is a talented boxer who lacks firepower. He holds victories over prospects Prenice Brewer, Dashon Johnson and Joseph Elegele. He battled undefeated Jesse Vargas over 10 rounds before dropping a decision two years ago. Martinez fought once in 2013, defeating Alberto Herrera.
After successive losses to Messrs. Alvarez and Maidana, there were whispers that the twenty-nine-year-old Lopez, who rarely has an easy fight, looked shopworn last December.
On April 24, Lopez will have a chance to prove that he’s back.