Unbeaten junior middleweight titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez turns 22 on July 18, and Josesito Lopez will be 28 a day later. With the announcement of their next fight, however, the two boxers are enjoying early birthday gifts.
Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 knockouts) will make the fifth defense of his WBC belt against the upset-minded Lopez (30-4, 18 KOs) in the main event of a doubleheader on Sept. 15 that will open with WBC featherweight beltholder Jhonny Gonzalez (52-7, 45 KOs) pursuing his 13th straight win and his 12th knockout during that run in his fifth defense against former 122-pound titleholder Daniel Ponce de Leon (43-4, 35 KOs).
The card will be on Showtime, and a press conference is being planned for next week, possibly on Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Sergio Martinez fight on the same night in Las Vegas on HBO Pay-Per-View.
“Of course we all know that Sept. 15 has been a traditionally strong boxing weekend, particularly for the Latino fans, being Mexican Independence Day weekend. It’s a time when people gather around and have a barbecue and enjoy the fights,” said Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer.
“So, this fight card will be a quadruple-header on Showtime from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and we are currently working on finalizing the two opening bouts, which will be exciting, toe-to-toe action fights.”
Promoted by Golden Boy, the event will be broadcast at 6 p.m. on the West Coast and at 9 p.m. on the East Coast. The buildup of Alvarez-Lopez will include the Showtime sports documentary series All Access: Canelo vs. Lopez, which will air several times on CBS and Showtime in advance of the fight.
“Showtime has made the commitment to promote this card as if it is a pay per view event. Fans won’t have to dig into their pockets. It’s not a pay per view, it’s a free-per-view. CBS is committed to helping and heavily promoting this event. We’re talking about the reality, All Access series that will be shown on Showtime and will get runs on CBS as well. CBS will be using its extensive sports schedule to promote this amazing card,” said Schaefer.
“We are going to showcase top-caliber boxing talent in Canelo Alvarez and Josesito Lopez for the millions of viewers watching that night. It is also a special gift to all of the Mexican and Mexican-American fans who have supported the sport for so long. You have their most celebrated fighter, Canelo, appearing on Mexican Independence Day weekend.”
Lopez is coming off an upset, ninth-round TKO over former welterweight titleholder Victor Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 KOs) on June 23.
“I am happy to be fighting Josesito Lopez on Mexican Independence Day weekend and to give all of our fans a tremendous battle,” said Alvarez. “I was ringside for his fight against Victor Ortiz, and saw the talent that he possesses. It will be very competitive, but nothing can take away my desire to be the best in the sport.”
Alvarez is coming off the fourth defense of his belt against ex-titleholder Sugar Shane Mosley, whom he defeated by unanimous decision in May. In vanquishing Mosley, Alvarez ended a winning streak of 21 consecutive bouts against fighters of Mexican decent.
“I am excited to be fighting for the Mexican people and Mexican-American fans on Mexican Independence Day weekend,” said Alvarez. “I look forward to showing so many people who will be watching me across the United States…that I love being a champion, and have them think of me as one of the greatest fighters ever.”
Lopez will be making his junior middleweight debut against Alvarez, having fought at a career-high 144 and three-quarters pounds against Ortiz when he entered a clash weighing more than 140 pounds for only the eighth time as a professional.
“I know that they put me in the ring with Victor Ortiz to have me beat, and now, they are doing the same thing with Canelo,” said Lopez. “But guess what? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I am no fool, and look where I am now. I beat Victor, and I am going to beat Canelo, too.”
Lopez vanquished Ortiz at The Staples Center in Los Angeles, breaking his right jaw. As part of an operation to stablize Ortiz’s injury, the fighter’s mouth was wired shut and both a metal plate and screws have been inserted.
“When Josesito Lopez fought Victor Ortiz at The Staples Center, not many people gave him a chance. To tell you the truth, I didn’t give him much of a chance, and look what happened. hat night, he sent Victor Ortiz to the hospital with a broken jaw and multiple fractures and out of boxing for six months,” said Schaefer.
“So the one thing is that Josesito Lopez made me a believer. He made me a believer and he showed the heart and will that counts for a lot in the sport of boxing. There is nobody who has more heart and will than Josesito Lopez. That night, Josesito Lopez demonstrated that he deserves to fight Canelo Alvarez and a fight for the world title.”
It had been Ortiz who was in line to face Alvarez until being vanquished by Lopez.
“I am happy to have the chance to continue my career fighting another great champion in Canelo Alvarez,” said Lopez, who is promoted by Dan Goossen. “I plan on using this giant platform to introduce myself to sports fans across the United States, fighting on Mexican Independence Day weekend.”
Lopez recently signed with adviser Al Haymon to become a part of a stable of fighters that also includes Floyd Mayweather Jr., Paul Williams, Danny Garcia, Austin Trout, Peter Quillin, Andre Berto, Devon Alexander, Chris Arreola, Andre Dirrell, Seth Mitchell, Adrien Broner, Gary Russell Jr., Erislandy Lara and Rico Ramos.
“This breaks down very simply. The man that everyone thought was going to give Canelo the fight of his life in Victor Ortiz was beaten badly by Josesito Lopez. So, in our eyes, we felt that Ortiz was going to be quite the challenge for Canelo, and, obviously, Josesito fought his way into replacing Ortiz with himself,” said Goossen.
“Josesito earned it. This is what it’s all about. So after the fight, and after he beat Ortiz, I had talks with Ken Thompson, who is our partner and co-promoter, and we both agreed that we should go in that direction. After Al Haymon got involved, then our intentions were all about moving forward with that goal.”
An under-sized and overwhelming underdog heading into the bout with Alvarez, Lopez was chosen over other 154-pound considerations such as IBF beltholder Cornelius Bundrage, WBA “regular” titleholder Austin Trout, hammer-fisted southpaw James Kirkland. and former welterweight beltholder Carlos Quintana.
“We have secured in Lopez the one fighter I think who deserves more than anyone else to fight Canelo,” said Schaefer. “There were a lot names being discussed and a lot of names being speculated in the media. There were several 154-pounders and 154-pound world champions such as Austin Trout and K9 Bundrage and I’m sure that Canelo is going to eventually get to them. But there is really only one man who deserves to get this fight, and that is Josesito Lopez.
“When we sat down with the list of names for Canelo, we went through the list and we told Canelo not to take this guy easy, because Josesito Lopez is going to come on Sept. 15 with one and only one goal, and that’s to do exactly the same thing that he did to Victor Ortiz to Canelo Alvarez. So it will be a very intriguing fight and a very interesting fight and I am happy for the fight fans that we were able to get this fight done.”
Kirkland had originally agreed to replace left-hander Paul Williams as Alvarez’s new opponent after a career-ending injury from a motorcycle accident rendered the former two-time welterweight titleholder paralyzed from the waist down. But Kirkland cited recovery from shoulder surgery on his right arm and money as his reasons for not taking the bout.
“We know the exceptional talent we have in Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez,” said Oscar De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions. “Certainly Josesito Lopez deserves the opportunity to face Canelo after his stunning victory over Victor Ortiz.”
Gonzalez, of Mexico City, defended his belt with a unanimous decision over once-beaten former beltholder Elio Rojas in Cancun in April. Although Gonzalez won, Rojas ended the titleholder’s streak of 11 straight stoppage wins that includes a fourth-round knockout that dethroned Hozumi Hasegawa in April of last year.
“Of course, we have the fight right before Canelo already locked in, which will be one of the more exciting fights in the Mexican market among Mexican fans, which is Jhonny Gonzalez against former world champion Daniel Ponce de Leon,” said Schaefer.
“The theme of the card and the two fights when they are announce will be ‘knockout kings.’ Once we get the entire card announced, you will see a never-before-seen knockout ratio between these participants. So we are really thrilled and excited to put this card on Showtime.”
Gonzalez has not lost since suffering a third-round KO to Toshiaki Nishioka in May of 2009 that ended his streak of six straight wins and five consecutive stoppages.
“This is a fight I have been wanting for a long time and now to have the opportunity to do it for my Mexican people is so great,” said Gonzalez. “That is a big weekend for everyone and I am going to show the world why I am still the best in the division.”
Ponce de Leon is coming off a unanimous decision over fellow Mexican southpaw Eduardo Lazcano in May that followed his sixth-round knockout of Omar Estrella in January.
“Gonzalez is a very good fighter, but I have the experience and ability to beat him and take his title from him,” said De Leon. “The Mexican fans will all be watching and there is going to be tremendous pressure on all of us to win our bouts and look great doing it. I will become the new champion that night and my career will move up to a new level.”
Photo by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Photos by Delane Rouse, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com