“Going up to 154 to face Canelo, obviously, that’s going to be an issue in most people’s heads. But as long as I have faith in myself, I can get stronger. Remember, I don’t have to worry about my weight. And I’m a big, tall guy. I’m not to worried. I mean it’s good for people to question my ability to go up to 154. I mean, I understand it. But only I know.
“I don’t blame anybody for questioning that. Their reasons for doing that are obvious. I’ve been fighting at 140 for most of my career. But the people in my camp and the people who know me, the members of my team, they know my potential. They know that the weight is the least of issues in my situation.”—Josesito Lopez, assessing his chances against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez during an interview with RingTV.com.
LAS VEGAS -- When he walks into the ring on Saturday night opposite Mexican star and WBC junior middleweight titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, challenger Josesito Lopez knows that there will be few in the MGM Grand Garden Arena who expect him to last the 12-round distance, let alone defeat the unbeaten 22-year-old fighter.
Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 knockouts) is coming off the fourth defense of his belt against ex-titleholder Sugar Shane Mosley, whom he vanquished by unanimous decision in May.
Although he failed to earn his fourth consecutive knockout, Alvarez ended Mosley’s winning streak of 21 consecutive bouts against fighters of Mexican decent.
Lopez (30-4, 18 KOs), meanwhile, captured the hearts of many with a career-defining, ninth-round upset stoppage over former welterweight titleholder Victor Ortiz at The Staples Center in Los Angeles in June, breaking Ortiz’s jaw in the process.
It had been Ortiz who was in line to face Alvarez, but Lopez has taken his place.
“Josesito earned the right to be here. I’m not underestimating him at all,” said Alvarez. “I want to continue on this path, but I have to get through Josesito first.”
But Lopez, 28, will be making his junior middleweight debut against Alvarez, having fought at a career-high 144 and three-quarters pounds against Ortiz in a match up that represented only his eighth time weighing more than 140 pounds.
“I can’t say I don’t like being the underdog,” said Lopez. “It adds excitement to the fight and makes me want to pull off the upset that much more.”
Can Lopez accomplish the unfathomable for the second consecutive fight? RingTV.com’s panel of experts pondered that question, and the results are below.
Saul Alvarez KO 9 Josesito Lopez: Josesito Lopez is a very good fighter — at 140 pounds. He’s a good fighter at 147. But 154 might be asking a bit too much.
“Canelo” Alvarez will not overlook him, and I expect him to have a very good night, using his ever-improving boxing skills to dominate and score a ninth round TKO.
Saul Alvarez KO Josesito Lopez: Josesito Lopez shocked everyone with upset of Victor Ortiz, but this time he’s biting off more than he can chew. “Canelo” Alvarez is too big, too skilled and just too damn good for Lopez to win.
Canelo will dominate the fight, punishing Lopez with pulverizing, thudding shots. The shorts will take their toll and he’ll stop Lopez late.
Saul Alvarez KO 10 Josesito Lopez: Josesito Lopez introduced himself to “Canelo” Alvarez with his stunning upset of Victor Ortiz. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Canelo will make sure it won’t happen again.
Lopez’s evident heart isn’t big enough to offset Canelo’s advantages in weight, which will exert leverage in powerful combinations from which there’ll be no escape in the later rounds.
Saul Alvarez UD 12 Josesito Lopez: “Canelo” Alvarez will pound out a unanimous decision against Josesito Lopez in a good action-packed fight. It will be one that the fans will enjoy. Lopez will fight his heart out, but I believe Canelo is too big and too strong.
Saul Alvarez late-round TKO Josesito Lopez: Though they’re close in height and walk around at nearly the same weight, “Canelo” Alvarez is accustomed to absorbing punches at 154 pounds, in addition to being the more polished, skilled fighter.
That will all allow Alvarez to wear down the always-game Josesito Lopez toward the end of what should be an entertaining, action fight for as long as it lasts.
Of course, Lopez will win the second he sets foot in that MGM Grand ring, regardless of the official outcome. He has come quite a long way the past three months.