Josesito Lopez: Lopez garnered some attention when he stopped then-unbeaten prospect Mike Dallas Jr. in January of last year. And even in defeat against Jessie Vargas in September – by a controversial split decision – Lopez, ruggged beyond his weight, looked as if he would be a handful for just about any opponent. Still, we didn’t exactly see this coming. Victor Ortiz was supposed to be an elite talent, a fighter who would squash a relative unknown like Lopez en route to a lucrative fight against Canelo Alvarez. Lopez didn’t cooperate. The resident of Riverside, Calif., stepped into the ring with steely determination, considerable ability and perhaps the best chin in boxing. It was clear almost from the beginning that he spelled trouble for Ortiz, who landed more punches but seemed to take the harder shots. Then, with his jaw (and will?) broken after nine rounds, Ortiz said he could not go on. Just like that, Lopez (30-4, 18 knockouts) was a major player in boxing. And make no mistake: He earned it.
Victor Ortiz: Only those who have tried to fight with a broken jaw could know what Ortiz was experiencing late in his fight with Lopez, if in fact it was broken. And, yes, it’s easy for us to suggest that he should’ve continued to fight. After all, many others – Muhammad Ali included – have fought with damaged jaws. Still, perceptions are perceptions. Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 KOs) was deemed by many a quitter when he stopped fighting against Marcos Maidana in 2009. That word was used again to describe what happened on Saturday night, whether that’s fair or not. Ortiz is young (only 25) and remains a good fighter. After all, he was leading on all three cards when the fight was stopped Saturday. The question many have is whether he has the mental toughness to realize his full potential. More people than ever undoubtedly are answering that question in the negative.
Alvarez’s next opponent: Richard Schaefer, Alvarez’s promoter, said Alvarez’s scheduled fight on Sept. 15 bill be on pay-per-view TV, Showtime or CBS depending on the opponent. Among the names that have been mentioned: Lopez, Cornelius Bundrage, Austin Trout, Vanes Martirosyan and Carlos Quintana. Of course, none of those fighters would make for a pay-per-view event. James Kirkland and Miguel Cotto are pay-per-view material but neither appears to be in the picture as a possible opponent. Schaefer also said he has a “wild card” possibility big enough for a pay-per-view event but wouldn’t say who it is. I would try to lure Kirkland into the ring, although earlier negotiations reportedly broke down over a shoulder injury and money. That would be a war. For the record: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Sergio Martinez are also scheduled to fight on Sept. 15. It will be fascinating to see what opponent on what network Schaefer comes up with.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Lucas Matthysse: The hard-punching Argentine did the smart thing in his fight against Humberto Soto on the Ortiz-Lopez undercard – he didn’t leave his fate in the hands of the judges. Matthysse (31-2, 29 KOs) has been burned twice by questionable scorecards; many believe he beat both Zab Judah (2010) and Devon Alexander (last year), each of whom walked away with split-decision victories. This time, Matthysse took matters into his own hands by stopping Soto (58-8-2, 34 KOs) after five rounds. The talented Mexican was competitive, outboxing and outworking Matthysse at times. However, Matthysse landed the head-snapping punches that catch the eyes of the judges more often than Soto. And then two overhand rights and a vicious straight right put Soto down and hurt him a split-second before the bell to end the fifth round, ending the fight. Thus, Matthysse will get another big, lucrative fight, possibly against countryman Marcos Maidana.
Michael Dallas: Dallas’ career was in doubt after consecutive losses to Lopez (KO 7) and Mauricio Herrera (majority decision) last year. The central Californian made a nice statement by shutting out Miguel Gonzalez in February, a solid step back toward prospect status. Then, against capable Javier Castro on Friday in San Jacinto, Calif., on national TV, Dallas looked like the fighter many expected him to be. He dominated Castro from the opening bell to the moment referee Lou Moret stopped the fight to save Castro (27-5, 22 KOs) from further punishment. Dallas (19-2-1, 8 KOs) fought well and with impressive fire, which surely left an impression on those who saw the fight. Dallas still must beat a top-tier opponent to prove his mettle but this was a solid step in the right direction.
Lopez, immediately after he beat Ortiz: “I’m a man. And I’m not intimidated by anything. I have a big heart. He tried to intimidate me but it didn’t work. Victor has no heart.”
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org