By Jose M. Romero /@RomeroJose
For FOX Deportes
OK, so you’re Josesito Lopez. You’re an L.A. area guy, 27 years old, you teach boxing classes in Riverside, Calif., and as a professional, you happen to be pretty good at boxing yourself.
You like the Dodgers, who had you throw out a ceremonial first pitch before a recent game. You were pretty happy when the L.A. Kings won the Stanley Cup this year. You’re making ends meet, and then suddenly you are asked to fill in for an injured fighter – a big-name one in Andre Berto – gain a few pounds to be a full welterweight and step in the ring against “Vicious” Victor Ortiz in front of your hometown fans at the Staples Center.
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. You’re 29-4 with 17 knockouts, and you fought Jessie Vargas – an undefeated rising star who just signed with Bob Arum’s Top Rank promotion – to a split-decision loss in Las Vegas last September, yet you feel disrespected.
Why? Because another promotion thought low enough of you to schedule Ortiz for a bout on Sept. 15 against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in Vegas, assuming Ortiz beats you or gains a draw this Saturday. And every fight fan, most of them anyway, outside L.A. would much rather see a couple of stars go at it on Mexican Independence Day weekend – Canelo and Ortiz.
So basically, you’re the only thing standing in the way of this fight not happening. And Golden Boy needs this fight to go head-to-head for the boxing fan’s dollars, with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. – Sergio Martinez, another battle of the sport’s titans, tentatively set for the same night, same city.
Either Golden Boy or Top Rank is going to blink. It’s ridiculous to stage these huge fights on the same night in the same place. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that you, Josesito Lopez, are basically fodder for Ortiz.
Which is why this fight, to be seen on Showtime, is bound to very intriguing. Lopez has already been quoted as saying he’s doubly motivated to fight and beat Ortiz, not just because Ortiz is a name but because of the future implications of the fight, which Lopez can wreck.
Lopez might, just might, earn himself consideration to be Canelo’s opponent if he wins. And truth be told, that’s a big if.
Most of the pressure is on Ortiz. One has to wonder about his mental makeup, the way he handled his fight with Floyd Mayweather. The one in which Ortiz was rocked with a knockout blow in the fourth round after he tried to hug and kiss Mayweather for some odd reason.
Ortiz said he got blindsided by Mayweather. Mayweather said he was just following the boxing golden rule – “protect yourself at all times.”
Lopez probably isn’t the trash-talker Mayweather is, so he’ll just have to rely on his punching ability to pull the upset.
It would be the victory of his life, with a lot of odds against him. Ortiz wants that fight with Canelo badly, and he’s not the only one.