Alan Dawson – London
In a competitive and completely entertaining tussle inside Los Angeles’ STAPLES Center on Saturday, June 23, Josesito Lopez produced the fight of his life and secured the upset of the year as he overcame a debilitating rabbit punch in round five to break Victor Ortiz‘s jaw, prompting Vicious to quit on his stool. In a memorable ruckus, Lopez was able to maintain pace with Ortiz by virtue of his useful uppercut.
Official verdict: Lopez by way of 9Rd TKO.
“I’m happy, I’m excited and I had to fight the fight of my life to win,” said Lopez (30-4-0, 18ko) to Showtime. “I knew I caught him with at least a few punches that hurt him. Did I break his jaw? I don’t know. I told everyone I was going to shock the world. Today is my day.”
Shaking up the world was exactly what Lopez did. Ortiz… a powerful bulldozer of a welterweight when on his day, battled in a spirited manner but was met – near enough equally – by Lopez as both fighters exchanged jabs, bombs and ten scores. The bout did not begin as a slobberknocker as Victor Ortiz’s patience in round one belied nine months of frustrations outside the ring that could have seen him attack with gusto from the off.
That tentativeness from the former welterweight world champion with the WBC was in stark contrast to Josesito Lopez – widely regarded to be the pre-fight underdog – who proved to have a growling bark and piercing bite as he twice hooked Ortiz (29-4-2, 22ko) with menacing power at the end of the session, getting Victor’s attention with each strike.
An edge-of-the-seat thriller erupted in the subsequent rounds as the momentum swayed from one fighter to the other. Ortiz displayed a varied arsenal of punches with thumping jabs, double jabs and uppercuts while Lopez showed good ring generalship, pushing Victor into areas where he wanted to work whilst also landing a good number of his power shots.
The action lulled somewhat in the fourth, but while Lopez did little, Ortiz maintained a tempo, scoring with his jab and straight left punches. The fierce action returned to the fore in the fifth but Ortiz drew a chorus of boos midway through the round when he clipped the back of Lopez’s head and a time-out was granted to Josesito. Lopez, initially, appeared like he did not want to continue but as soon as boxing resumed, he was all business, all power and all testosterone as he traded slugs with Ortiz and landed a tremendous right with 30 seconds left on the round clock.
“Quitting? No. I don’t quit,” Lopez said when questioned about the rabbit punch. “Did it hurt? Yes! It hurt.”
Lopez found success with his hook shot in round six and both men traded combinations. Ortiz rattled Lopez’s core in the seventh with a tiger uppercut and Lopez waved his gloves as if to say bring it when both combatants exchanged short-range shots with Josesito’s back to the ropes. When he came off the ropes, he harassed and chased Ortiz around the ring, landing heavily and prompting Victor to clinch.
Golden Boy Promotions founder Oscar de la Hoya had lauded Ortiz’s ability to take a punch during the event’s promotion and, in the eighth round, Lopez attempted to test that theory with what had become his signature punch of the night – the uppercut. Lopez’s ascendancy in the first half of the round was negated by Ortiz’s greater work in the latter half, landing southpaw jabs, double jabs and straight left hands.
Lopez’s uppercut was a shot he was able to land flush from many areas. He launched it during inside-trading and he also connected with it when there was a foot gap between their front feet. In the ninth, though, while the pace of the fight had quietened, it was Ortiz – like he had earlier in the bout – who maintained some form of eye-catching tempo as he pumped out three to four punch combinations and, in the final 30 seconds, walloped Lopez who refused to back down and finished by backing Ortiz up before checking his jaw with a right hand.
In an incredible turn of events, Victor Ortiz quit on his stool, complaining of a broken jaw and refusing to come out to play for the beginning of the tenth round. Lopez had gotten inside Ortiz’s head, produced a storming performance, won the crowd’s approval and, when mounting the turnbuckle to salute the STAPLES Center masses, received a standing ovation.
“Josesito busted my jaw,” said Ortiz in a muffled tone after the fight before trainer Danny Garcia attempted to marshal him out of the ring where he would return to his dressing room and spit streams of blood into a towel. “I had my mouth open, I’ll be fine, my coaches wanted me to keep going but I couldn’t close my mouth. It’s a little painful, I’m sorry.”
With the victory, Lopez claimed the silver WBC title at 147lbs, scuppered Ortiz’s plans of challenging Saul Alvarez for the Mexican’s WBC junior middleweight world title and saw his own stock rise stratospherically with the result and his performance.
Will Lopez take on more big names at welterweight or return to junior welterweight?
“As long as I’m ready, I’ll take anybody,” said Josesito.