After all, Golden Boy Promotions had just announced Victor Ortiz was slated to challenge WBC Jr Middleweight Champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez September 15th.
Having already been dismissed by many as a 'tune-up' for Ortiz, a prideful, impassioned Josesito Lopez entered the ring with something to prove. And despite being the naturally smaller man and fighting at welterweight for the first time, the lesser-accomplished 6 1/2 to 1 underdog engineered a stunning upset at Staples Center last night.
Victor Ortiz utilized pressure and power-punching most of the night and was winning an entertaining, action-packed bout until he refused to come out for the 9th Round, citing a broken jaw.
Previously rated as The RING's No. 3 welterweight, Ortiz was ahead on all three scorecards, 88-83, 87-84 and 86-85 at the time of the stoppage.
In what may be a candidate for Fight of the Year, Ortiz out-landed Lopez overall, 147 to 122, but Lopez edged Ortiz in power shots, landing 110 of 203 (36%), while Ortiz connected on 99 of 221 (45%).
"I have a big heart; Victor has no heart," Lopez said in the ring afterwards. Lopez added, "He tried to intimidate me, but I'm not intimidated by anybody. "I knew I needed to fight the fight of my life. I caught him with good punches every round. I chopped him down."
When asked if his jaw was broken, Victor Ortiz, bleeding from the mouth, said, "Yes, Josesito busted my jaw. But it's OK. I'll be fine. My coaches wanted me to keep going, but I couldn't close my mouth."
Who Will Fight Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez September 15?
After the fight, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer confirmed what many already knew... Victor Ortiz will not be fighting Alvarez in September. And Lopez's trainer and promoter are unwilling to have their man, a jr welterweight who'd already moved up 7 pounds for last night's bout, face the much bigger, stronger jr middleweight champion.
With Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto unavailable for obvious reasons, Victor Ortiz out of the picture and previously selected opponents James Kirkland and Paul Williams succumbing to injury, who's left to face Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in what "may" be his first headlining stint on pay per view?
There are seemingly five possible opponents:
Austin "No Doubt" Trout (25-0, 14 KOs) - The New Mexico native is likely the leading candidate because he holds the WBA's version of the jr middleweight title and defeated Canelo's big brother, Rigoberto Alvarez. Although he has only recently enjoyed mainstream exposure on Showtime premium cable network, he owns a world title and Golden Boy can market and promote the Alvarez 'revenge factor.' The slick Trout is arguably one of the best pure boxers in the sport whose speed and technique may be problematic for Canelo.
Cornelius "K-9" Bundrage (31-4, 18 KOs) – The 39 year Bundrage is managed by Emanuel Steward, fights with a fan-pleasing style and is a very marketable commodity. More importantly, the fighter known as "K-9" is the IBF Jr Middleweight Champion and Alvarez would unify two belts by defeating him. However, Bundrage defends his title next Saturday (June 30) against Cory Spinks. If he's victorious and doesn't suffer an injury, would Bundrage, already a world champion, be willing to go right back into training to prepare for a high-profile bout a mere 10 weeks away?
Erislandy Lara (16-1-1, 11 KOs) – Although the Cuban exile is currently fighting under the Golden Boy banner, the crafty southpaw may be "too much risk for the reward." A well-schooled southpaw with 'a canon' for a left hand, Lara is currently ranked number three (behind Miguel Cotto and James Kirkland) in the jr middleweight division by the WBC and is fresh off an explosive first round knockout of Middleweight contender Ronald Hearns.
Vanes Martirosyan (32-0, 20 KOs) – Trained by Freddie Roach, the 6'0" "Armenian Nightmare" is a threat to anyone at 154lbs. He's currently the WBC Silver Light Middleweight Champion and is ranked No. 4 by the WBC in the same division. Martirosyan won an impressive unanimous decision over then-undefeated prospect Joe Greene (then 22-0, 14 KOs) on the Cotto vs Foreman undercard in June 2010.
"King" Carlos Molina (19-5-2, 6 KOs) – Earlier this year, Carlos suffered a controversial disqualification loss to James Kirkland after dominating the WBC's No. 2 ranked Jr Middleweight for the majority of the bout. An extremely slippery and awkward southpaw, Molina earned a majority draw over Erislandy Lara and manhandled former world champion Kermit Cintron. He's far better than his record indicates and frustrates fighters when he opens his 'bag of tricks.'