By Keith Idec
Oscar De La Hoya offered a very personal reminder Tuesday for those that think Josesito Lopez is too small to upset Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
“The Golden Boy” was a big favorite over Manny Pacquiao, literally and figuratively, when Pacquiao challenged De La Hoya in December 2008. That didn’t stop Pacquiao from dominating De La Hoya for eight one-sided rounds, before the six-division champion and future Hall-of-Famer quit on his stool before the ninth round of their welterweight fight at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The 39-year-old De La Hoya, whose company promotes Alvarez, retired after Pacquiao hammered him. Though tempted at times, the 1992 Olympic gold medalist has not fought since that stunning night.
“When Josesito Lopez fought Victor Ortiz, I have to admit I was very confident Victor Ortiz was going to win,” De La Hoya said during a press conference in Los Angeles to officially announce the Alvarez-Lopez fight scheduled for Sept. 15 at MGM Grand (Showtime). “But what Josesito Lopez showed me that night is that I shouldn’t doubt any fighter that steps inside that squared circle. People can say that’s he’s a welterweight. People can say he has never been on a big stage with a world champion like ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
“Well, do you remember when I fought Manny Pacquiao? And people said that he was too small for me. Look at what he did to me. He destroyed me. So there’s no fighter out there that you can say has no chance or no shot at all, because inside the squared circle you never know what’s going to happen. And [Lopez] is living proof right here. Josesito Lopez has the desire, the heart. He is living that ‘Rocky’ moment. … [Alvarez] is training very, very hard and very serious for this serious challenge.”
The 27-year-old Lopez (30-4, 18 KOs, 1 NC) has never been heavier than the 144¾ pounds he weighed before his technical knockout victory over Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 KOs) on June 23 in Los Angeles. The Riverside, Calif., native’s fight against Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs) will be contested at the junior middleweight limit of 154 pounds, for Alvarez’s WBC super welterweight title.
Lopez appeared taller than Alvarez at Tuesday’s press conference, but Alvarez has a wider frame and more muscle mass.
Pacquiao had not weighed more than 134½ pounds for any of his professional fights before he met De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KOs) at welterweight 3½ years ago. The Filipino superstar weighed 142 pounds for that bout, which had a contracted limit of 147. De La Hoya tipped the scales at 145, the lowest he had weighed in nearly 12 years.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.