by Fox Doucette
Josesito Lopez (30-4, 18 KOs) is in for the fight of his life this Saturday night, September 15, when he travels to Las Vegas to take on Saul “El Canelo” Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs) in what many are calling a stay-busy fight for the WBC’s unbeaten junior middleweight titlist.
Where would the fun be, however, in simply claiming that the obvious will come to pass and signing this one off as a quick stoppage win for Alvarez? Sure, he’s beaten more than a few fighters of at least Lopez’s quality—Ryan Rhodes, Matthew Hatton, the Weekend at Bernie’s version of Shane Mosley who Alvarez smacked around for twelve rounds in his last fight. As opponents go, Lopez is just another face in the crowd, a source of potential criticism of “shit or get off the pot” nature as Alvarez now enters his 42nd pro fight with still not a signature win to be had anywhere along the chain.
Alvarez holds a bogus title (the WBC junior middleweight strap, “earned” against Alfonso Gomez after some machinations by Jose Sulaiman to put a belt around the waist of yet another Mexican fighter, which makes it a fair question whether the WBC “World” title ought just to be considered a regional belt for the land of the Aztecs.) Lopez will be trying to wrest that belt from the waist of the “champion”.
So how the hell is Josesito Lopez going to do it?
The answer lies in the one question that remains unanswered about Saul Alvarez. So far, El Canelo has been in against guys who cannot hurt him, free to avoid mixing it up and getting dirty. Contrary to his countrymen in the ring, Canelo’s style is not that of the Mexican brawler, the ultra-entertaining fighter who brings the pain with every punch and walks through the fires of hell in order to make his point. Saul Alvarez is not Julio Cesar Chavez. He is not Hector Camacho. He’s not even as scrappy as some of the dudes in a Michoacan club fight.
Josesito Lopez, on the other hand, is that scrappy. He’s not afraid to break a guy down if it means testing that deep part of the fighter’s soul that, once knocked out from under a man, turns him into a helpless wreck who quits on the stool (Victor Ortiz, who also just happened to get his jaw shattered by Josesito’s onslaught) or a guy who needs the referee to save him from himself (Mike Dallas Jr., on Friday Night Fights in 2011).
Who’s to say that Lopez can’t make that his calling card? The only thing that stands in Lopez’s way is that he has never weighed more than 144.5 pounds for a fight (the Ortiz scrap) and will be giving up a massive size advantage to Alvarez. But as anyone who’s tried to deal with a whirling dervish of a little dude in a bar fight knows, size ain’t everything, not even in boxing.
Saul Alvarez might be able to call upon his Mexican heritage and fighter’s soul when he gets pressed. He might also end up like a lighter-skinned and lighter-weighted version of Edison Miranda or Mike Tyson, folding like a bad poker hand as soon as he gets hit flush.
Look for Josesito Lopez to get the KO or die trying if he’s serious about winning this spectacular upset. Nobody thought he could knock out Victor Ortiz either; lightning may strike twice for the kid from Riverside, California.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Fan mail, hate mail, and other nominees for the Miranda/Tyson Hall of Shame can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.