LAS VEGAS -- When Josesito Lopez steps into the ring to challenge junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, he has many people to thank for the opportunity.
There are co-promoters Dan Goossen and Thompson Boxing, manager Henry Ramirez, adviser Al Haymon, Alvarez and his promoter, Golden Boy, and Showtime.
But nobody deserves a bigger thank you than former junior welterweight titlist Kendall Holt.
Without Holt's decision to pull out of their June 22 main event on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights", Lopez would never have gotten the opportunity for his huge upset of Victor Ortiz on June 23. Without that fight, there is no title shot or career payday against Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs).
Lopez (30-4, 18 KOs) had already been in training for five weeks when Holt pulled out of the fight.
According his promoter Gary Shaw, Holt decided not to go through with the fight because he did not want to fight outdoors in the desert heat at the Soboba Casino in San Jacinto, Calif. The venue had been finalized after Holt accepted the fight.
When Holt pulled out on Lopez, and Ortiz's fight with Andre Berto fell apart after Berto tested positive for steroids, Lopez was free to accept the bout with Ortiz, whom he went on to stop at the end of the ninth round
because he broke Ortiz's jaw in two places.
Ortiz was supposed to have faced Alvarez after what was supposed to be a tune-up fight against Lopez.
I suggested that maybe Lopez should send Holt a Christmas card as a thank you.
"Come Christmas time, maybe I should," Lopez laughed. "I was really mad at him for pulling out but then we got the news basically the following day [about the Ortiz fight]. I guess now I got to thank him.
"Without him punking out, I would never have gotten the opportunity to be here today."