LOS ANGELES – Josesito Lopez says he feels stronger than ever after training above 150 pounds for his Showtime-televised showdown with Victor Ortiz on Saturday at Staples Center.
Lopez, a near-6-foot junior welterweight standout from Riverside, Calif., normally slows down a bit at the tail end of his training camps for fights that take place at 140 pounds due to fatigue from weight loss. However, Lopez’s fight against Ortiz will take place at 147 pounds, which he says has enabled him to have one of his best camps in years.
“Getting to move up to 147 gives me that much more energy and strength to go tough throughout the whole training camp,” Lopez (29-4, 17 knockouts) told RingTV.com at a media workout at Fortune Gym on Wednesday. “I carry this weight well and Ortiz is going to find that out early in the fight.”
Lopez’s trainer Henry Ramirez believes his 27-year-old fighter can compete with the explosive former WBC welterweight titleholder in the trenches but he doesn’t want him to match Ortiz physically – he wants Lopez to test him mentally.
“Eduardo Garcia trains Mikey (Miguel Angel Garcia) in Riverside, near our gym, and I’ve talked to him about Victor,” said Ramirez, referring to the father of Ortiz’s two pro coaches – former trainer Robert Garcia and current trainer Danny Garica. “Eduardo was around Victor all those years when Robert trained him and I’ve taken the opportunity to pick his brain about Victor’s strengths and weaknesses.
“He told me Victor is very talented and strong, he’s got a lot of ability, but mentally he’s not all there. There’s a weakness in him that they knew about long before it was exposed in the (Marcos) Maidana fight.”
Any fight fan who has remotely followed Ortiz’s career knows about his shootout with the rugged Argentine slugger, who took his best punches and raged back to overwhelm the young prospect to a brutal and humiliating sixth-round stoppage three years ago.
“Garcia told me the guys who will always give Ortiz trouble are those who stay on his ass and pressure him,” said Ramirez.
However, the young trainer, who also guides heavyweight contender Chris Arreola, wants Lopez to be smart about his attack on the powerful southpaw.
“I don’t think Josesito will have to go looking for Victor,” Ramirez said. “I expect him to try to bully Josesito, which we welcome, but I want Josesito to work on the inside and then slide out. I don’t want him to stay in the pocket too long.
“I want him to be aggressive and make Ortiz fight. I want him to work Ortiz’s body and I want him to see where Victor’s mental state is.”
Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) is used to people questioning his psychological fortitude. He desire to fight was questioned after the Maidana loss. His killer instinct was questioned after his draw with Lamont Peterson. And his focus and professionalism was challenged after his bizarre fourth-round KO loss to Floyd Mayweather last September.
Ortiz just laughed when boxing writers told him about Lopez’s and Ramirez’s plans.
“I think that’s funny – tell them good luck,” he said prior to his open workout.
Ortiz is already scheduled to face popular WBC 154-pound titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in a Showtime Pay Per View main event on Sept. 15. However, Ortiz says he’s focused only on Lopez.
“He’s got a lot of heart, he puts everything out there,” Ortiz said. “I’m the same way so that’s danger on both sides.
“Canelo who? I’m all about Josesito Lopez until Saturday and then maybe we can talk about something else.”
Ortiz says he’s always been focused on the sport and claims that fans and boxing people make too much of the Maidana fight
“It was just a loss,” he said. “I accepted that the night it happened. The first thing I said to Maidana after that fight was congratulations, good fight, you got me tonight, but give me three months and we can do it again. He didn’t take my heart. I wanted the rematch. I was willing to fight him for nothing. He didn’t want to do it, so I moved up to welterweight.
Ortiz upset then-undefeated Andre Berto for the WBC strap, which he lost in his very next bout to Mayweather. He says he would like a rematch with Mayweather, something that could be possible if he wins on Saturday and beats Alvarez.
“I still want to fight Mayweather,” he said. “I’ve been dreaming about the day I get that title back. I didn’t get to experience being a champion the first time around. I need it.”
Photos / Esther Lin-SHOWTIME