On Tuesday, Golden Boy Promotions announced that former WBC welterweight titleholder Victor Ortiz would rise into the 154-pound division to challenge unbeaten WBC beltholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in the main event of a Showtime Pay-Per-View card from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Sept. 15.
Josesito Lopez (29-4, 17 knockouts), a hardnosed junior welteweight from Riverside, Calif., found it somewhat premature to announce Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) against Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs). The reason?
Ortiz is schedule to face Lopez on June 23.
“The fight alone is motivation enough,” said Lopez, who, at 27, is two years older than Ortiz. “But just the fact that, in my eyes, they’re jumping the gun, it adds more motivation. That’s certainly it right there.”
Ortiz must first get beyond Lopez to face Alvarez, a bout that would take place if he his victorious unless Ortiz suffers an injury during the bout such as a broken hand or severe cuts that would hinder his participation.
During a conference call on Wednesday, Ortiz said he is not overlooking Lopez, and, in fact, is not thinking about Alvarez.
“I’m ready for Josesito. There’s no thoughts of me fighting Canelo. There’s no thoughts of training for Canelo,” said Ortiz. “There’s nothing there in my mind for Canelo right now. As of right now, there’s only one guy that I want, and that’s Josesito Lopez. I’m ready.”
Lopez’s trainer, Dan Goossen, nevertheless, took exception to the move to name Ortiz as Alvarez’s next opponent.
“The fight is just 10 or 12 days away. If they wanted to show respect, I would think that maybe after June 23, then that’s when the announcement would come if you were successful against Josesito,” said Goossen. “But from our end of it, no matter what kind words we put on to this, I thought that it was done improperly and disrectfully.”
ORTIZ: LOPEZ ‘IS NOT ON STEROIDS’
Lopez became the opponent for Ortiz as a replacement for former two-time titlewinner Andre Berto in the wake of Berto’s positive drug test for traces of the banned substance norandrosterone, which forced him out of the rematch with Ortiz, who defeated Berto by unanimous decision in April of last year.
“It was unfortunate circumstances that we received this opportunity, because of the situation with Andre Berto,” said Goossen. “I know that he’s a clean fighter.”
Ortiz said that he respects the ability of Lopez, who is coming off a disputed split-decision loss to Jessie Vargas last September.
“Lopez is a great fighter. I think that he and Berto kind of go hand in hand,” said Ortiz. “They’re both great fighters. I can’t ease up on either of them. I guess that the difference there is that Josesito is not on ‘roids.”
“I definitely think that I won. I’ve had a chance to see the fight again, and I feel that I won,” said Lopez. “I feel like nine out of 10 people that you talk to would feel the same thing. Unfortunately, the judges didn’t see it the same way.”
LUCAS MATTHYSSE WILL GO FOR THE KNOCKOUT AGAINST HUMBERTO SOTO
On the undercard of Ortiz-Lopez, hard-hitting junior welterweight contender Lucas Matthysse (30-2, 28 KOs), of Argentina, and former WBC 130-pound and lightwieght titleholder Humberto Soto (58-7-2, 34 KOs), of Mexico, will face off.
Soto is riding a 15-bout winning streak that includes six knockouts, and Matthysse is after his third straight stoppage victory.
Matthysse take a knockout mentality into his clash with Soto, having scored two consecutive stoppages.
Prior to his last fight, a sixth-round knockout of Angel Martinez in February, Matthysse fought three southpaws in a row, sandwhiching split-decision losses to ex-titleholders Zab Judah and Devon Alexander in around a eighth-round knockout of DeMarcus Corley.
“Zab and Devon were very difficult fighters, and obviously, having to adjust to them was difficult,” said Matthysse. “But with Humberto, we know that he is going to come to fight. He’s going to come to go to war. That makes me very happy, because I’m ready to give him a war.”
JUAN MANUEL LOPEZ EYES RING RETURN
Former WBO titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez (31-2, 28 KOs told RingTV.com that he still is suspended from fighting in his homelande by the Professional Boxing Commission of Puerto Rico because of disparaging comments he made about referee Roberto Ramirez Sr. following his 10th-round TKO loss to Orlando Salido in March.
But Lopez said that he is hopeful or returning to the ring as early as November or December, even though his suspension from fighting in Puerto Rico extends until March.
“I’m looking forward to getting out of Puerto Rico and fighting in Las Vegas. It’s a different venue, but money talks,” said Lopez, whose criticism of Ramirez Sr. were made during his post-fight interview with Showtime’s Jim Gray.
“Right now, my suspension is until March, but there has been talks about it, and I’m hoping to maybe fight in November or December. I think that there are a couple of fights at 126 that I would be interested in, but I’m also looking at moving up to 130.”
Photo by Bryan Crowe, Fightwireimages.com
Photo by Gene Blevins, Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions
Photo / Peter Amador-Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org