Rugged junior welterweight Josesito Lopez shocked the boxing world when he broke Victor Ortiz’s jaw en route to stopping the former 147-pound titleholder after the ninth round of Lopez’s first major welterweight bout in June. Can he do it again against an even bigger foe?
Fans of the sport’s latest “Rocky” story will find out when Lopez challenges Saul “Canelo” Alvarez for the unbeaten Mexican star’s WBC 154-pound title on Sept. 15 in Las Vegas. As he was going into the Ortiz fight, Lopez is a huge underdog against Alvarez, but he brings certain attributes and intangibles that should make for an entertaining fight. Here’s how they matchup:
HEAD TO HEAD
Skills: Both Alvarez and Lopez are aggressive boxers with big hearts and underrated versatility. Alvarez, who has a good jab, solid footwork and tighter technique than Lopez, is more willing to box when necessary.
Power: Alvarez is the naturally bigger fighter and he has a much higher knockout percentage than Lopez (70.7 to 51.4).
Speed and athletic ability: Alvarez and Lopez have comparable hand and foot speed, reflexes and stamina. Alvarez is better coordinated and more explosive.
Defense: Neither fighter is known for his defensive prowess but Alvarez does a better job of keeping his hands up and stepping back or leaning away from punches.
Experience: Both fighters are experienced young pros who have fought a variety of styles. Alvarez has gone more rounds (260 to 195) and has been in with slightly better competition.
Chin: Apart from an off-balance knockdown against Wes Ferguson, Lopez has always exhibited an excellent chin, which absorbed the best shots Ortiz could unload. Alvarez has solid whiskers but was badly rocked by Jose Cotto, a natural lightweight.
Conditioning: Lopez hasn’t always dedicated himself to the sport. Lack of training led to late-round fades that resulted in close decision losses to Ferguson and Edgar Santana. Alvarez has trained to fight the 12-round distance since he was 17.
Wear and tear: Alvarez has more fights than Lopez (42 to 35) and he’s gone more pro rounds, but he hasn’t been in many grueling fights. Lopez had tough fights with Jessie Vargas and Ortiz but is still a fresh fighter.
Ability to cope with external pressure: Alvarez has been a main event fighter showcased on national TV (in Mexico) since he was a teenager.Lopez, though developed on club shows, proved with the Ortiz fight that he’s not one to be intimidated by the big stage.
Corner: Lopez is guided by one of California’s better young trainers, Henry Ramirez , who also trains heavyweight contender Chris Arreola. However, Alvarez’s father-and-son coach team of Jose and Edison Reynoso have more world-class experience.
Outcome: Alvarez will start fast and try to test the chin of Lopez, who will pass with flying colors (and fists). After some early fireworks, Alvarez will wisely back off and work his jab while stepping around the ever-advancing Lopez during the middle rounds. Alvarez will attack when he sees openings, and his punches will knock Lopez back on his heels. But the gritty challenger will punch back and land power shots every time the Mexican star tries to close the show. Both fighters will sport facial bruises and lacerations going into the late rounds, which will feature vicious body-head exchanges. However, Alvarez will be the busier fighter and finish stronger.
Prediction: Alvarez by competitive unanimous decision.