By Jake Donovan
This weekend’s SHOWTIME-televised doubleheader is now set, as all four participants made weight for Saturday’s show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Local welterweights Victor Ortiz (146.5 lb) and Josesito Lopez (144.75) both came well within the limit for their 12-round bout, which headlines the card.
At stake for Ortiz is a September 15 showdown with unbeaten 154 lb. titlist Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez. Lopez has every intention of spoiling that party, telling Ortiz to instead make plans for their own rematch. A reminder was served on stage, when both fighters stood nose-to-nose before being separated by their respective camps.
Neither fighter has fought since appearing on the same show last September, both in losing performances which generated much post-fight banter.
Ortiz (29-3-2, 22KO) headlined the show, landing on the very wrong end of a highlight reel fourth round knockout against pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather. Controversy swirled around the ending, which was preceded by an intentional headbutt from Ortiz and a lengthy time out. Ortiz claimed to not know that time was called back in, as Mayweather clocked his unsuspecting opponent with a “two-piece” to put him down and out for the night.
Lopez appeared in the opening bout of the very same pay-per-view event, dropping a spirited and disputed 10-round decision to unbeaten Jessie Vargas.
Both Ortiz and Lopez have been scheduled for other opportunities between then and now, only to endure some incredibly bad luck. Ortiz began two separate training camps for a rematch with Andre Berto, only for both fights to fall through for separate reasons.
The original February date was scrapped after Berto suffered an injury during training camp. The revised date was this weekend, only for Berto to be removed from the mix last month after pre-fight random drug testing popped the 2004 Haiti Olympic boxer for traces of nandrolone in his system.
Lopez agreed to step in and take the fight on short notice, a decision that also meant moving up in weight at a quicker point in his career than he initially planned. Still, it’s a situation where the potential reward makes the risk worthwhile.
A win (or even a draw) by Ortiz will finalize plans for a PPV showdown with Alvarez, to be carried by Showtime’s pay-per-view arm. Should Lopez pull off the upset, Golden Boy Promotions will have some thinking to do – like whether or not it would still be wise to go up against a dueling card on HBO PPV, headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr’s challenge of the lineal middleweight title against Sergio Martinez.
The co-feature bout between Humberto Soto (58-7-2, 34KO) and Lucas Matthysse (30-2, 28KO) carries Fight of the Year-level implications, with many believing this battle of 140 lb. contenders will steal the show.
Both fighters came in under the divisional limit. Soto - a former two-division titlist who moved up in weight last year - weighed in at 139.5 lb, while Matthysse came in at 138.75 lb., his lightest weight in more than two years.
Soto was hoping to land in high profile bouts with more celebrated countrymen Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez, both of whom now campaign at 140 lb. Instead, he takes on the dangerous challenge of Argentine power puncher Matthysse, whose only two career losses came on the road and were highly disputed from the moment the scorecards were announced
The winner of the bout will be in line for an eventual title shot at 140. Plenty of red tape is involved, which is all the more reason to just focus on the fight itself rather than its long term ramifications.
SHOWTIME will continue with its trend of offering select undercard bouts on SHOWTIME EXTREME prior to the broadcast on the flagship station. The two bouts chosen feature plenty of promising talent.
Unbeaten Jermell Charlo takes on Denis Douglin in a battle of rising prospects. Charlo (17-0, 8KO) came in at 153 lb for his 10-round bout with Douglin (14-1, 8KO), who was slightly above the 154 lb. limit on his first try and was granted two hours to sweat off ½ lb.
Both fighters are coming off of impressive showings. Charlo racked up his first knockout in more than 18 months when he stopped the normally durably Chris Chatman in the 3rd round of an untelevised bout this past March. Douglin’s last appearance came with far greater fanfare, scoring a spirited split decision over Steve Martinez in the 2012 season opener of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights.
Opening the SHO EXTREME broadcast is red-hot prospect Omar Figueroa, who takes on Alian Hernandez. Both fighters weighed 137 lb. for their scheduled eight-round bout.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox