By Rick Reeno
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer spoke with BoxingScene.com about the recently finalized fight between WBC silver welterweight champion Josesito Lopez (30-4, 18KOs) and undefeated WBC 154-pound king Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, which takes place on September 15th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Showtime will televise.
Last month, Lopez moved up to the welterweight division and broke the jaw of Victor Ortiz for a ninth round stoppage victory at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The victory derailed a scheduled fight between Canelo and Ortiz.
Lopez is the fourth scheduled opponent for Canelo. The initial opponent was Paul "The Punisher" Williams. A few days after the fight was announced, Williams was involved in a motorcycle accident which left him paralyzed from the waist down. The next scheduled opponent was James Kirkland, who accepted a deal and then withdrew the following day with a shoulder injury. And then came Ortiz.
On the same night as Canelo-Lopez, and only two miles down the road, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32KOs) will defend his WBC middleweight championship against Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28KOs) at the Thomas & Mack Center. HBO pay-per-view will carry the show.
This past Monday, when BoxingScene first announced that a deal was reached for Canelo-Lopez, we received countless calls and emails from individuals involved in the boxing industry who expressed their criticisms on the fight. Several of those individuals labeled the bout as a physical mismatch. Lopez, who moved up to welterweight to face Ortiz, only weighed 144-pounds for the fight.
Schaefer disagrees with individuals calling the fight a mismatch, reminding those same critics about the 2008 pay-per-view clash between Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya. Pacquiao, who a few months earlier had made his debut at 135-pounds, was now moving up by two weight divisions to face De La Hoya at welterweight. A lot of people screamed murder, calling the fight a physical mismatch. And certain critics, like WBC President Jose Sulaiman, called on the Nevada State Athletic Commission to prevent the fight from taking place. The fight was a mismatch, but not in the manner that most expected. Pacquiao dominated and punished De La Hoya for an eight round stoppage. The victory made Pacquiao an instant mega-star.
While the scenario is similar, there are key differences. De La Hoya was at the end of his career and killed himself to make weight. Canelo, at 21-years-old, is in his prime and fighting at a comfortable weight.
However, the only moment when Canelo was seriously hurt was in 2010 - when junior welterweight Jose Miguel Cotto, who at the time never weighed-in higher than 144-pounds, moved up to a catch-weight of 150 and rocked Canelo in the first round. Canelo recovered and stopped Cotto in the ninth.
Lopez has a very tough task in front of him. Some are calling it an impossible task. But one thing is for sure, Lopez will go out on his shield and I expect him to put forth a far more determined effort than Canelo's recent opponents - Shane Mosley, Kermit Cintron and Ryan Rhodes.
BoxingScene: What was the main reason behind the decision to go with Josesito and not some of the other options, including some fighters who are with Golden Boy?
Schaefer: When you look at the landscape in these weight classes, I think there is one fighter who clearly stands out, and deserves the fight more than anyone else - and that is Josesito Lopez. You talk about earning a fight the old fashioned way, I think Josesito did exactly that. How many people gave him a chance against Victor Ortiz? I have to tell you, I wasn't one of them. I didn't give him much of a chance and nor did anyone else. He showed the world what you can do with will and determination. And can you imagine the kind of motivation he has to fight Canelo Alvarez for his world title. One guy who deserves it is Josesito Lopez, no question about it.
BoxingScene.com: The biggest criticism that people have about this fight is the weight. He weighed 144 for Ortiz. Canelo is stronger and gets physically bigger [than Ortiz].
Schaefer: Well there are plenty of examples, like when Pacquiao fought Oscar De La Hoya. There are plenty of examples. All of those guys who are going to say that now, had a different opinion [after] Pacquiao's fight with De La Hoya. Some of these promoters [taking shots at Canelo-Lopez] recently said - size is not the determining factor....it's the will, the skills and there are other reasons. Josesito Lopez....anybody who counts him out should call Victor Ortiz.
Victor Ortiz landed in the hospital with multiple factures and a broken jaw. he has wires in his jaw and he will be out of boxing for six months. Who did that? Josesito Lopez. Can you imagine the determination this young man has going into the Canelo fight. I think people can count Josesito Lopez out at their own risk.
BoxingScene.com: We've heard [Golden Boy President] Oscar De La Hoya mention "history" with respect to Canelo's fight. In a few interviews we've had with you, you also mentioned history. Was this fight at one point going to land on CBS and then something fell through?
Schaefer: No, what we want to do is put together the best Hispanic card from top to bottom...the best Mexican Independence card ever put together. I think with Josesito Lopez and Canelo Alvarez - I think you have a fight that you know will be a thriller. With Ponce De Leon and Jhonny Gonzalez, you have one of the most talked about Mexican fights that you know will be a thriller.
We are working on two other fights which we hope to finalize in the next few days. We are going to have a press conference next week, which I believe is on Wednesday. And it will be from top to bottom, one of the best cards ever. It will be a quadrupleheader. People don't have to go in their pockets. They can watch on Showtime.