By Jake Donovan
Josesito Lopez knew his world was going to be turned upside down. A career-defining win in a major upset tends to do that to a fighter.
“It’s been crazy. I’ve been trying to find time to rest, but I’m loving (the attention),” Lopez admitted during an interview from ringside on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights telecast live from Corona, California.
Fans are still abuzz over Lopez’ shocking stoppage win over Victor Ortiz after nine rounds in their Showtime-televised welterweight bout last Saturday. Lopez took the fight on short notice after Andre Berto was removed due to testing positive for traces of nandrolone in his system.
Berto’s misfortune turned out to be the biggest break in Lopez’ career, one that has been largely spent being thrown in fights on short notice. While this bout was more of the same on the surface, it was the first time where the reward far exceeded the risk should he emerge victorious.
Lopez did just that, outlasting Ortiz and literally beating him into submission. A slow start put the Riverside fighter in a deep hole on the cards, but a key turning point in the fight came during what should’ve been the most dangerous moment of the night for Lopez.
“It took a few seconds because it was a bad punch, but I had to compose myself and fight,” Lopez said of the rabbit punch that landed square on the back of the neck midway through the fifth round. Time was called to allow for ample recovery time, but Lopez took over the round – and functionally the fight – the moment action resumed.
Four rounds later, Lopez would score the biggest win of his career when Ortiz was forced to quit on his stool after the end of the ninth round. A broken jaw was the reason given by the southpaw who not only lost the fight, but thanks to the severity of the injury also saw a September 15 date with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez go out the window.
The fight was announced prior to Ortiz’ showdown with Lopez and even came with the disclaimer that the southpaw needed to win or at least not lose and also escape unscathed in order for the fight to become official.
Already intent on shocking the world, the premature announcement was the final piece of ammunition Lopez needed to live out the spoiler role to the fullest.
“I went there to win. We took the fight because we believed we could beat Victor Ortiz and I wasn’t going to leave without a win. I’m a fighter in life and had everything the hard way. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I had to go through a war to get a victory and that’s what I had to do.”
After a career spent doing what he has to do, Lopez is now able to do whatever he wants to do. While bound to a rematch clause which Ortiz has already exercised, Lopez still has plenty of other offers from which to choose. The rematch can’t happen until Ortiz – presently in the hospital recovering from the damaged haw and other injuries – is fully healed. That gives Lopez the freedom to browse around.
None of that is to be interpreted as his way of joining the cherry-picking brigade. Lopez is still willing to take on all comers. Only now, those fights come on his terms and with enough advanced notice to enter the ring as a fighter who enjoyed the benefit of a full training camp.
“I feel like I’m in a great position. It gives me options. I don’t just have to fight anyone they put in front of me. Now I can sit back and make smart decisions. Throw me in the ring against anybody. All I ask for is the right amount of preparation.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox