By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing: When Josesito Lopez enters the ring on June 23, he’ll be doing so as a clear-cut underdog. Lopez, a fill-in for Andre Berto, will be facing former two-time welterweight champion Victor “Vicious” Ortiz at The Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Lopez (29-4, 17 KOs)
lost a razor-thin decision to Jessie Vargas last year. It’s rare when a
boxer loses a fight but gains a title-shot. Ortiz (29-3, 22 KOs) lost
his welterweight crown to Floyd Mayweather last year. The title up for
grabs June 23 is the WBC silver welterweight title.
supposed to be tangling with Berto in a rematch of their scintillating
bout from last year. Originally scheduled for Feb 11, the bout was
postponed after Berto tore his left biceps while training for the fight.
Berto threw another monkey wrench in the rematch plans by testing
positive for traces of steroids last month. Needing a replacement,
Golden Boy Promotions called Lopez. The 27-year-old from
Riverside eagerly agreed to face Ortiz.
"This is a once in a
lifetime opportunity and I plan to take advantage of it,” said Lopez at a
press conference announcing the fight.
An underdog is usually a
mix of the unknown, the unseen, and the unremarkable. Lopez might be
unknown and unseen, but his boxing ability is impressive.
was born in Riverside, California. His amateur boxing career began at
age eight. After 70 amateur fights, Lopez turned professional. He won
16 of his first 17 bouts before losing a close decision to Wes Ferguson.
He rebounded with seven consecutive victories, which included four by
knockout. His loss to Edgar Santana was a shocker. Lopez floored the
tough Puerto Rican twice in round eight, but still ended up on the wrong
side of the decision.
Undeterred by the Santana loss, Lopez
soldiered on. He won his next seven fights in a row. In 2011, he faced
undefeated Mike Dallas Jr. of Bakersfield, California for the vacant
NABF light welterweight title. Lopez ignored a nasty cut over his eye to
out punch Dallas in most of the rounds. Dallas wanted to box, but Lopez
kept applying the pressure until Dallas wilted in round seven. The
victory was the biggest of Lopez’s career and earned him an undercard
fight against Jesse Vargas beneath the Floyd Mayweather - Ortiz
mega-fight in Las Vegas. Lopez lost a tight split decision. Many
ringside observers felt he deserved the victory. RingTV.com had Lopez
winning the bout by a point.
Ortiz, 25, had a very successful
2011, capped by a thrilling 12-round decision over Berto that earned him
the WBC welterweight crown. Five months later, Ortiz would lose by
knockout to pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather. The bout was
controversial. Mayweather was clearly winning, but Ortiz was
competitive. In round four, Ortiz head-butted Mayweather in the mouth
and apologized profusely. Unaware that referee Joe Cortez had called for
the fight to continue, Ortiz was soon on the canvas, courtesy of a
booming left hook right hand combo.
The Oxnard, California
resident hasn’t laced up the gloves since, but his confidence appears
unaffected by the Mayweather loss. He insists that he is not taking
“There is a dangerous fighter in front of me who
is on the same path as I was a year ago before I fought Berto,” Ortiz
told The Miami Herald. “But the difference here is I’m too hungry to let
my chance go.”
Last week Golden Boy Promotions announced that
Ortiz would fight super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez on
September 15 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lopez didn’t like it.
it’s a screw up for Golden Boy for making the announcement,” said Lopez
during a media conference call. “It’s not only disrespectful to me, but
something that could wait.”
Lopez’s promoter Dan Goossen concurred with his fighter.
think we've got a very competitive fight," Goossen told
doghouseboxing.com. "I think Lopez may be the underdog, but he's a live
underdog. They've got a saying in other sports - where it's bulletin
board comments like this that get teams fired up. And in this case, this
is locker room material."
Ortiz is the more talented of the two
fighters, but Lopez is arguably the more motivated. If Lopez can hurt
Ortiz, an upset is possible. If he can’t, Ortiz should prevail.
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