Lopez will chase another upset win vs. Canelo

When Josesito Lopez and Saul ”Canelo” Alvarez stood toe-to-toe

and stared each other down Tuesday on historic Olvera Street, the

supposedly undersized Lopez was the one looking down at his

opponent.

Maybe their Sept. 15 bout isn’t such a gross size mismatch after

all. Maybe Lopez really has another shot at an incredible

upset.

The matchup is the latest unlikely chapter for Lopez (30-4, 18

KOs), a virtually unknown fighter outside of his native Southern

California before last month. With just four weeks to prepare as a

late replacement opponent, his stunning upset victory over

welterweight star Victor Ortiz catapulted him to fame.

After three prospective Canelo opponents were unable to fight,

Lopez capitalized by accepting an invitation to jump up yet another

weight class to take on Alvarez, the beloved young 154-pound

champion and one of boxing’s most impressive punchers.

Lopez already had one Rocky moment this year, yet he believes

he’s got a few sequels in him.

”I’m definitely the underdog again, but I give it my all in the

ring,” Lopez said. ”I fight my heart out. I like to think I can

take a pretty good punch.”

Lopez and Alvarez formally announced their fight at a downtown

Los Angeles park in front of several hundred eager fans. While

Alvarez and Lopez are only worried about facing each other, their

promoters realize they’re also in for a fight in Las Vegas in two

months.

In a boxing rarity, this Golden Boy-backed card at the MGM Grand

Garden will be held just down Tropicana Avenue from a major card

for Top Rank, headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s

much-anticipated middleweight bout with Argentine star Sergio

Martinez at the Thomas and Mack Center.

Neither Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer nor Top Rank’s Bob Arum

blinked and moved his card off Mexican Independence Day weekend,

one of the highest-profile slots on the boxing calendar. The Top

Rank show is a pay-per-view event, while Golden Boy’s card is free

to Showtime subscribers.

”We’re going to do what we need to do from a business

perspective,” Schaefer said. ”We’re not going to be influenced by

what Bob Arum does. … If you have a choice and you can afford to

do a non-pay-per-view, it’s probably in the fighters’ best

interests to do it.”

Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs) didn’t flinch while a succession of

opponents came and went in recent weeks.

Veteran star Paul Williams accepted the bout just a few days

before he was left paralyzed in a motorcycle accident, and James

Kirkland declined the shot because of a shoulder injury and gripes

about his purse. Ortiz then was promised the fight with Canelo, but

his loss – and the broken jaw delivered by Lopez – knocked him out

of the running.

The door was open for Lopez, who sprinted through it.

”Josesito has earned the right to fight Canelo, and he earned

it the hard way – with his fists,” Schaefer said.

When Schaefer first suggested Lopez could be a contender to face

the 154-pound Alvarez, he raised eyebrows. After all, Lopez is a

longtime lightweight who moved up to 140 pounds in 2008, but has

never fought above the 144 pounds he weighed against Ortiz.

But Lopez walks around between fights at more than 160 pounds –

and his height advantage was obvious in the staredown. Lopez also

has plenty of experience against big guys: He has sparred with

plenty, including Chris Arreola, the hulking heavyweight contender

and fellow Riverside fighter.

Lopez believes he has a shot against Alvarez, who has risen to

the top while still learning the finer points of his sport.

”Canelo, he’s a champion for a reason, but he’s not going to be

hard to find,” Lopez said. ”He’s going to be right in front of me

all the time, and I can take a bigger guy’s punches.”

A few hundred fans gathered mostly to catch a glimpse of Canelo,

the red-haired Guadalajara fighter with a fanatical following on

both sides of the border. Yet many fans also showed up to cheer

Lopez, including a couple of guys in wrestling masks who rattled

noisemakers for the underdog from nearby Riverside.

Alvarez rejected the suggestion he’s in a strange situation

fighting an unheralded, upset-minded opponent.

”I think everybody has something to gain,” said Alvarez, who

turns 22 on Wednesday. ”My job is to get ready for whatever

opponent I get. I know he won his way into this fight.”