Saul Alvarez to face Josesito Lopez

Updated: July 10, 2012, 9:04 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, in search of an opponent for his Sept. 15 defense after three previous foes dropped out, will face Josesito Lopez, who scored a major upset against Victor Ortiz last month, multiple sources with knowledge of the deal told ESPN.com on Tuesday.

The deal has been agreed to and contracts have been exchanged, although the paperwork is not yet signed, the sources said.

While there was serious discussion between Showtime and sister network CBS about putting the fight on CBS -- which has a rich history of boxing but has not aired a live fight since the 1990s -- that aspect of the deal ultimately could not be worked out and, according to a network source, the fight will wind up on Showtime.

Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer had said during the buildup to Lopez-Ortiz that if Lopez, 27, of Riverside, Calif., pulled off the upset that he would be considered as Alvarez's opponent.

However, few thought Lopez would get the fight given the significant weight disparity. Lopez had never fought heavier than the 144 pounds he weighed against Ortiz and the fight with Alvarez will be at the junior middleweight limit of 154 pounds, according to the sources.

For weeks, Golden Boy tried to finalize an opponent for Alvarez, one of Mexico's biggest sports stars, to fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Mexican Independence Day weekend.

The scheduling of the fight has drawn interest -- and heavy criticism -- because it will go head-to-head with rival promoter Top Rank's major HBO PPV show headlined by lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez's fight again titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Mexico's other boxing superstar, at the Thomas & Mack Center, which is down the street from the MGM. The promoters and networks have been battling over the date for weeks.

The 21-year-old Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs) was originally scheduled to make his fifth title defense against Paul Williams on Showtime PPV before Williams was paralyzed in a career-ending motorcycle accident on May 27, just a few days after he had agreed to the bout. Then James Kirkland agreed to take the fight, but backed out the next day in a dispute over his purse combined with the fact that his shoulder, which had been operated on in March, was still giving him problems.

Then Ortiz, a former welterweight titlist, accepted the fight, which was still intended for Showtime PPV. But when Ortiz took the fight with Alvarez, he was already scheduled to face Lopez -- a substitute for former welterweight titlist Andre Berto, who was bounced from their rematch after testing positive for a steroid in a random urine test a few weeks before the fight -- on June 23 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Ortiz planned to go through with the fight against Lopez (30-4, 18 KOs) and then move up in weight to challenge Alvarez. However, Lopez, a junior welterweight who moved up in weight in order to fill in for Berto and a major underdog, broke Ortiz's jaw in two places, forcing him to retire on his stool after the ninth round of a fight he had been winning on all three scorecards.

Lopez, who signed with powerful adviser Al Haymon a few days after beating Ortiz, landed the fight with Alvarez despite Golden Boy discussing possible unification bouts with Cornelius "K9" Bundrage and Austin Trout and the fact that the company promotes top contender Erislandy Lara, who was never seriously considered. Rumors also swirled that Alvarez could face long-faded former titlist Ricardo Mayorga.

Schaefer declined to comment.

The co-feature of the card, which Schaefer announced weeks ago, will pit featherweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez (52-7, 45 KOs) and Mexican countryman Daniel Ponce De Leon (43-4, 35 KOs).