Mike Coppinger

Maidana, Lopez save fire for June 8 showdown

 

LOS ANGELES – There was no name-calling.

No verbal barbs, no derogatory gestures, nor any throat slashes at La Fonda restaurant on Monday.

It was a stark contrast from the press gathering for the other Showtime Championship Boxing offering in June (Paulie Malignaggi-Adrien Broner), but lack of histrionics aside, the welterweight matchup between Marcos Maidana and Josesito Lopez on June 8 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., looms as a can’t-miss action matchup.

“I know Josesito is a great fighter,” said Maidana, 29. “I know he likes to stand and trade and fight. That’s what I do and that’s why it’s going to be such an exciting fight.”

Lopez (30-5, 18 knockouts), known as “The Riverside Rocky” after shattering Victor Ortiz’s jaw in an upset victory last June, shared Maidana’s enthusiasm for the matchup as a fan-friendly fight.

“I’m so excited about this fight and I’m the one receiving the punches. I can only imagine how excited the fans are,” said Lopez, 28. “Years ago before I was at this level I thought, ‘Man, this would be an exciting fight. I would love to get in there and bang with him.’ Now we’re here. It’s a hell of a match-up. It could be the fight of the year.”

Both fighters announced their arrivals in the sport with victories over Ortiz in which they made the more popular fighter quit. Maidana (33-3, 30 knockouts) outlasted Ortiz in a Fight of the Year candidate in 2009, scoring two knockdowns but also hitting the canvas twice himself. Lopez did the trick three years later, when Ortiz retired on stool following the ninth round.

Now they meet in a battle that should catapult the winner to a more meaningful fight in a stacked division.

“We should have called this ‘High Stakes’… The winner between Marcos Maidana and Josesito Lopez automatically puts himself in line and at the front door knocking to fight the very best,” said Oscar De La Hoya, President of Golden Boy Promotions.

Following the victory over Ortiz, Lopez, who began his career at 130 pounds, moved up to 154 pounds for a chance against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, but offered little competition. The size disparity was glaring; Lopez suffered three knockdowns before being stopped in the fifth round. That was last September. Lopez took a long retreat to heal his wounds and believes the Alvarez fight prepared him for his return to welterweight.

“When you’re fighting a heavy puncher like Maidana, you have to be smart,” said Lopez. “The move up to 154 pounds helped me now that I’m back at 147. Now I feel I’m a true welterweight. I feel great in the gym – stronger and faster.”

Similarly, Maidana seemed to be thrown off by weight gain. After sterling performances against Amir Khan and Ortiz at 140, he was thoroughly outboxed by Devon Alexander in his debut at 147 pounds last year, but feels settled at the weight now and says, “The 147-pound division is where I feel best; I didn’t feel that way at 140. Now I’m free and I can eat more. My body is different and you can see the definition.”

Maidana is also buoyed by his relationship with reigning Trainer of the Year Robert Garcia, who has coached the Argentine assassin for the past two fights.

“I feel so good with Robert because I’m getting used to the way he trains and the way he commands me. The way he gives orders,” said Maidana. “He tells me ‘you have to move away, you have to move your head, don’t just throw punches, you have to be more intelligent.’”

Lopez promises to fight smarter than in the past as well, but when you have two action fights like him and Maidana, it’s a matter of time before there’s fistic fireworks.

“This is a fight I have to win,” said Lopez. “It’s a fight that keeps me on the map. This is where I want to be and I’m working my ass off.”

 

 

Photos / Gene Blevins – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

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