Ortiz focused on facing Lopez
After a nine-month absence from the ring due to various circumstances beyond his control, former welterweight champion "Vicious" Victor Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) will accept the challenge from the unheralded, but game Josesito Lopez (29-4, 17 KOs) this Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, broadcasting live on Showtime (9 p.m. ET).
To say that Lopez is in a fortunate position is putting it quite mildly. Unranked by both the WBC (who is placing their vacant welterweight "silver" title up for grabs) and The Boxing Tribune (at both junior welterweight and welterweight), Lopez is in prime position to upend the favorite from Garden City, Kans.
That is to say if Victor Ortiz was taking him lightly. Ortiz has been in near constant training for the better part of a year now, having had one full training camp ahead of the "Repeat or Revenge" card featuring the highly anticipated rematch with Andre Berto (their first match was a fight-of-the-year candidate in early 2011). That first date (originally scheduled for Feb. 11) was scuttled, however, as a tendon injury suffered by Berto above his left bicep forced his withdrawal from the contest.
The expectations were so high for the rematch that Ortiz opted to wait for the former WBC and IBF champion Berto to heal rather than find a replacement opponent in August as proposed by his team and management. Ortiz continued training, keeping himself in impeccable shape (he competed in the grueling 26-mile L.A. Marathon).
The much-awaited rematch wasn't to be, though, as Berto relinquished his spot on the pay-per-view by submitting a positive drug test in mid-May with traces of nandrolone (which is shown in lab studies to induce muscle growth, increased red blood cell production and to aid in bone density). Both Ortiz and Berto were taking part in a voluntary anti-doping program prior to their scheduled rematch.
"I take it as a compliment," Ortiz would tell Showtime cameras. “If you gotta be on 'roids to fight me, that's a huge compliment for me. ... Steroids for what? I eat Flintstone vitamins, so I don't need them."
Ortiz claims his absence from the ring hasn't affected his belief in himself or his hunger.
"Josesito is in the same position I was a year and a half ago against Berto," Ortiz said. "He wants what I have, and I ain't giving it to him.
"I'm a force that's unstoppable. Like it or not, I'm here for a purpose. Whatever comes my way, I'm ready for it."