Lopez breaks Ortiz, boxing stalemate
Long shot pulls off shocker, solves boxing's self-imposed Sept. 15 problem
Well, that nasty Sept. 15 problem seems to be solved, thanks to Josesito Lopez. A junior welterweight who moved to welterweight and who isn't known for his power, Lopez landed a flush left hook that appeared to break Victor Ortiz's jaw at the end of the ninth round on Saturday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
It also knocked cold the best-laid plans.
Ortiz was winning a tremendous give-and-take action fight. He was ahead on all three scorecards, 88-83, 87-84 and 86-85 (watching on Showtime, I had him up 87-84), and his corner was imploring him to continue. But Ortiz took things into his own hands, telling referee Jack Reiss that his jaw was broken and that he was quitting the fight.
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It's not the first time Ortiz has waived the white flag. His reputation as a quitter began in 2009 when, in the very same Staples Center ring, he couldn't take the heat against Marcos Maidana and quit in the sixth round after being knocked down. He did make up for it, at least somewhat, in 2011 when he displayed a warrior's heart in a brutal slugfest with Andre Berto, surviving two knockdowns and winning a decision and a welterweight title.
That may be lost now that he has quit for a second time. Many fighters -- Muhammad Ali and Arthur Abraham, off the top of my head -- have persevered through broken jaws to win.
I won't give Ortiz too much grief, though. The injury was legit and he could barely talk in a brief postfight interview.
Moments after the fight was over, as Ortiz sat in his corner spitting streams of blood from his mouth and Lopez joyously celebrated a massive upset victory -- "I told everybody I'd shock the world. Today's my day," he said -- all of the boxing world could breathe easier.
For the past few weeks, archrivals Golden Boy and Top Rank have been playing a nasty and unappreciated game of chicken with the all-important Mexican Independence Day date of Sept. 15.
Both companies, with a blatant disregard for what is best for the fans and the sport, were planning competing pay-per-view cards from venues barely a mile apart in Las Vegas.
Top Rank is going with lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez against paper titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. -- one of boxing's most anticipated fights -- on HBO PPV from the Thomas & Mack Center.
Golden Boy and Showtime PPV were planning a card at the MGM Grand, with junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez slated to face Ortiz, who was supposed to walk through Lopez and then move up in weight for the fight.
The plan for Golden Boy and Showtime is now in ruins. In a big way.
Ortiz was already the third scheduled opponent for Alvarez. First, it was Paul Williams, who exited after a tragic motorcycle crash ended his career and left him paralyzed. Then James Kirkland, whose shoulder isn't yet healthy and who wanted stupid money, dropped out. And now it's Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 KOs), who wouldn't be ready for Sept. 15 even if he hadn't quit and had gone on to win.
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told me the other day that if Ortiz lost, Alvarez -- who watched his fight fall apart from ringside -- would probably face either fellow titlist Austin Trout or former welterweight titlist Carlos Quintana.
Maybe Golden Boy will make one of those bouts, but as pay-per-views, they're a pathetic joke, especially opposite an A-level fight like Martinez-Chavez. Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza told me after Lopez-Ortiz that Alvarez would still fight as scheduled.
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"We're still going with Canelo," he said. "We've got a short list of opponents and we'll announce shortly."
Espinoza also said that although the mystery fight might still air on pay-per-view, it could also wind up on Showtime or even on sister network CBS, which, as far as I can recall, hasn't broadcast a fight since the late 1990s.
Whomever Alvarez fights now, however, unless it's Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Miguel Cotto -- and it won't be either of them -- the Sept. 15 bout won't come close to matching the significance and excitement surrounding Martinez-Chavez.
Even Alvarez-Ortiz, as good a fight as I think it would have been, didn't quite stack up to Martinez-Chavez.
Now nobody has to worry about what to watch or where to go on Sept. 15, because it's an easy decision.
We can all thank Lopez (30-4, 18 KOs), a nice guy and a good fighter who fought the fight of his life. He called it his "Rocky moment."
All week leading up to the fight, Lopez and his team wore T-shirts that read "It Smells Like An Upset."
Guess what? It was.
He took down Ortiz, an entire big-money fight and one giant headache all at the same time.
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