Welterweight Josesito Lopez and undefeated junior lightweight Francisco Vargas will be featured in separate bouts on the Dec. 13 Golden Boy Live! card from Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio, Calif., on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes, Golden Boy Promotions announced on Wednesday.
Lopez (30-6, 18 knockouts), a 29-year-old slugger from Riverside, Calif., will face New York’s Mike Arnaoutis (24-9-2, 11 KOs), a 34-year-old veteran who is 3-7 in his past 10 fights. The former 140-pound title challenger was stopped by Victor Ortiz and Danny Garcia during that time.
“It’s great to be back in the ring, especially in front of my Southern California fans,” Lopez, a loser of three of his past four fights, starting with a disputed split-decision setback to Jesse Vargas in September of 2011, said in a Golden Boy Promotions press release. “Arnaoutis is a tough guy, and I know that he’s going to give me a fight, but that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Lopez rebounded from the loss to Vargas in his 147-pound debut in June of 2012, thanks to a ninth-round TKO over former WBC 147-pound titleholder Ortiz, whose jaw was broken in their fight.
Lopez is attempting to bounce back from consecutive stoppage losses to former RING and WBC 154-pound champion Canelo Alvarez in the fifth-round last September and in the sixth-round at the hands of Marcos Maidana as a welterweight this past June.
“Josesito Lopez is a true warrior, and with our styles, this is going to be a fight that no one will forget,” Arnaoutis said in the press release. “I can’t wait for the first bell to ring, and I’m not going to stop swinging until my hand is raised.”
A 28-year-old Mexican Olympian, Vargas (17-0, 13 KOs) is matched against Jerry Belmontes (18-2, 5 KOs), a 24-year-old former prospect from Corpus Christi, Texas, who has lost two of his past three fights and was last in the ring for a unanimous decision loss to Andrew Cancio in July.
ANTHONY DIRRELL PLANS TO ‘DOMINATE’ SAKIO BIKA
When unbeaten super middleweight Anthony Dirrel (26-0, 22 KOs) enters the ring at Barclays Center on Dec. 7, the 29-year-old boxer-puncher from Flint, Mich., will do so in order to challenge for the WBC belt owned by rugged Cameroon native Sakio Bika (32-5-2, 21 KOs) of Australia.
But the word “challenge” is something that Dirrell has grown accustomed to, having endured cancer as well as a broken leg from a motorcycle accident in May of 2012. The motorcycle accident preceded a unanimous decision over Don Mouton in May as well as a third-round stoppage of durable Anthony Hanshaw in July.
“If anything, it has made me more focused. But I wasn’t even thinking boxing,” Dirrell said in a Showtime press release. “I was thinking survival and getting back on my feet. I was thinking what I could do so that I could play with my son again. Boxing was the last thing on my mind.”
Bika-Dirrell is on the undercard of the Paulie Malignaggi-Zab Judah main event that will be supported by IBF 147-pound beltolder Devon Alexander defending against unbeaten prospect Shawn Porter and a junior middleweight contender clash of between Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout.
Dirrell, the younger brother of 2004 Olympian Andre Dirrell, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma shortly after he stopped James Hopkins in December 2006, and didn’t return to the ring until October 2008, when he decisioned Andy Mavros over four rounds.
From there, Dirrell scored nine consecutive knockouts, ending with a fourth-round stoppage of Renan St. Juste in December of 2011 that made him the WBC’s No. 1 contender. Then the motorcycle accident happened.
Against Mouton, Dirrell returned from a 17-month ring absence as a result of the accident to win an eight-round, toe-to-toe battle, one which could prepare him for Bika.
“The key for me is to go in and stick to the game plan and to go in and dominate the guy,” said Dirrell. “I’m really going to try and take him out. I don’t want to leave it in the judges’ hands.”
In Bika, Dirrell will face a well-traveled 34-year-old winner of four straight fights, two of them by stoppage, since falling by unanimous decision to current RING and WBA 168-pound champion Andre Ward in November of 2010.
A winner of his past two bouts by unanimous and majority decision over previously unbeaten fighters, Nikola Sjekloca and Marco Antonio Periban in February and June, respectivewly, Bika has also gone the distance in title-bout losses to Joe Calzaghe and Lucian Bute in October of 2006 and June of 2007.
The only other losses on Bika’s resume are by majority decision to Sam Soliman in his 11th bout in October of 2002, and by first-round disqualification over Jean Paul Mendy, whom he slugged while Mendy was down in July of 2010 — one bout before facing Ward.
“I definitely think that he’s underestimating me, probably because I haven’t had a lot of rounds,” said Dirrell, whose fight with Mouton represents the longest he has gone in a bout. “But I’m prepared, mentally and physically, and come Dec. 7, the world will realize that I’m a champion and not a contender.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com