by Jake Donovan
It’s been a rough nine months for Victor Ortiz, mainly because it’s how long he’s been forced to sit on last September’s knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather. The former welterweight titlist returns to the ring on June 23, when he faces late replacement Josesito Lopez at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Twice during that stretch, plans were made to face Andre Berto in a rematch to their thriller last April. Twice during that stretch, those plans fell by the wayside.
An injury postponed their scheduled February date, pushing the fight back to June 23. The delay was just long enough for random drug testing results to reveal traces of nandrolone in Berto’s system, thus forcing the 2004 Haiti Olympic boxer out of the Showtime headliner.
The news came on the heels of Lamont Peterson testing positive for synthetic testosterone prior to his scheduled May 19 rematch with Amir Khan. Peterson’s reveal came at such a late point in the promotion that the entire show was canceled.
The only upside to Berto’s test results was that it came early enough for Ortiz and his team to find a suitable replacement. They have just that in Lopez, who was training for another fight later this month when he got the call for the upgrade in pay, exposure and competition.
Both camps were forced to change up their training camps. Lopez (29-4, 17KO) was preparing for a conventional fighter before adjusting to pitches from the other side of the plate as his handlers rewrote strategies to adjust for Ortiz’ southpaw stance.
Ortiz (29-3-2, 22KO) now has to train for a taller and rougher fighter, though he doesn’t seem concerned. All he cares about is the fact that a clean fighter will stand in front of him on fight night.
“It’s a great experience to be in the ring once again. Just knowing it’s against some great opposition makes me work that much harder. Jose is a really good fighter. He and Berto go hand in hand,” Ortiz believes. “They’re both good fighters. I guess the difference there is that Josesito’s not on roids.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]