By Jose M. Romero/ @RomeroJoseM
For Fox Deportes
Reports are everywhere saying Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Golden Boy Promotions’ golden boy of the moment, will face Josesito – let’s call him “Jawbreaker” – Lopez on Sept. 15 at the MGM in Las Vegas. And now those reports appear to have been confirmed.
The fight is scheduled for Showtime pay-per-view.
While Golden Boy had yet to officially announce the fight as of Wednesday afternoon – it was busy hyping the Amir Khan vs. Danny Garcia bout this Saturday – Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer did confirm the card to Ring Magazine. Canelo-Lopez is at this point happening on the same night as Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez for the WBC middleweight championship at the nearby Thomas & Mack Center, live on rival HBO PPV.
That in itself is a separate issue, two big fights, same night, same town. But first, the Alvarez-Lopez fight:
Lopez has earned this opportunity, even if he will have to put on a few pounds to face Canelo at 154. Still, he was the fourth choice. Alvarez was originally going to face Paul Williams before Williams got into a motorcycle accident. Then James Kirkland agreed, and quickly backed out of being Canelo’s next opponent. Then Victor Ortiz was penciled in, and all he had to do was handle the skinnier Lopez, who was a big underdog in their fight last month.
Lopez scored a TKO in the ninth round when he broke Ortiz’s jaw. The scramble to find another opponent for Alvarez began, and it has apparently ended with Lopez, a Los Angeles-area native with a 30-4 record.
He faces Alvarez, undefeated at 40-0-1, but still often criticized for not having faced higher-caliber opponents.
The key for Lopez will be to stick and move, to stay away from Canelo’s thunderous hooks to the body. Lopez will be a big underdog, but he’s been there before and shocked the boxing world. Alvarez was in Los Angeles sitting ringside when Lopez stopped Ortiz.
It’s not Canelo’s fault he hasn’t faced bigger names and challenges. He’s still 21 years old and he’s being brought along as steadily as possible. Golden Boy doesn’t want to throw its moneymaker into the ring against Miguel Cotto or Floyd Mayweather just yet and ruin the kid’s confidence. Fans just need to be patient.
There were other potential candidates to face Alvarez, such as Cornelius Bundrage and Austin Trout. But Golden Boy has chosen wisely. Bundrage and Trout lack that sizzle and star power, for one, and secondly, as Big Happy said in the movie “American Me” – “He ain’t Mexican, ese.”
It’s Mexican Independence Day weekend. You already have a Mexican hero, Chavez Jr., fighting on Sept. 15. Your audience is in large part Mexican and Mexican American. They are the ones who are driving boxing live event and PPV sales. So it makes good sense to pit Alvarez, from Mexico, against Lopez, of Mexican descent.
As for the date of the fight, it’s still crazy to think that both of these big fights will happen on the same night in Vegas. Someone needs to blink in this staring contest. Chavez-Martinez is the better fight on paper – these are two stars with large followings. But Alvarez-Lopez is a great plot – young champion trying to put upstart underdog in his place and remain undefeated and on a path to greater heights.
Additionally, the Canelo-Lopez card features a battle of Mexican featherweights for the WBC title: Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Daniel Ponce de Leon.
The MGM might as well fly in Banda El Recodo or Pedro Fernandez for this Mexican fiesta at the MGM. It’s shaping up to be quite a 16 de septiembre in Vegas.