Roads Finally Merged For Josesito & Victor Ortiz; Plus, Upcoming Action

Jose Reynoso jab by KatJose Reynoso shows his fine form in photo by Katharine Rodriguez.

Josesito Lopez’s welterweight clash with Victor Ortiz was just one of many great fights that erupt every time a prizefight is held at the Staples Center.

These two Southern Californian fighters were going at it.

It started 12 years ago when East L.A.’s Oscar De La Hoya met Pomona’s Sugar Shane Mosley for the first time. It was also the debut for boxing in the Staples Center that had just opened. Many of the media were given a tour of the facility. That year, 2000, was also a big year for the Los Angeles Lakers, who captured the NBA title.

De La Hoya was the reigning pound for pound champion and Mosley the upstart and when the fight was announced it sold out the large venue. From round one until the end the two Southern Californians lit up the arena with punches. It was a blur of speed and power but neither was floored. That proved to be the benchmark for all future boxing cards.

Last Saturday, Riverside’s Lopez accepted the role of filling in for former world champion Andre Berto. When that fighter was unable to fight – due to a positive drug test – Lopez accepted readily but was quick to point out that he was not there to simply gain a hefty payday, he was there to win.

Their fight was a vivid reminder of the De La Hoya-Mosley clash 12 years earlier. I had seen both fighters open their pro careers and just recently Mosley retired a few years after De La Hoya. Now, here I was about to witness Lopez and Ortiz meet before thousands in the Staples Center.

I attended Ortiz’s first fight that took place in Las Vegas at the Plaza Hotel and Casino. He needed only two minutes and one second to destroy Raul Montes on June 4, 2004. The main event that night was Rolando Reyes who lost to Miguel Angel Huerta.

I was also at Lopez’s first fight a year earlier at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Feb. 8, 2003. The main event was Shane Mosley fighting Raul Marquez. Lopez didn’t waste time in opening up with all of his guns against Allen Litzau. The fight ended in 53 seconds. Ironically the late Toby Gibson was the referee for both Lopez and Ortiz’s pro debuts.

Lopez stands nearly six-feet tall and debuted at 130 pounds. Slowly he moved up in weight and just recently was fighting as a junior welterweight. Ortiz began as a lightweight and then a junior welterweight. When asked to move up to welterweight and challenge Berto he readily accepted and won.

The move to welterweight helped both Lopez and Ortiz with each showing power, speed and resilience at the 147-pound level.

On Saturday, the 7,000 fans in the arena and the millions watching saw a spectacular fight with both Ortiz and Lopez willing to exchange blows that would have felled a raging rhinoceros. Fans were oohing and aaahing at every exchange. The sound of the blows landing was booming.

Ironically, Ortiz had predicted it would be an all out war and he did his part to prove correct. Lopez, whose abilities were unknown to the world outside of Riverside County before the fight, showed why Ortiz knew what to expect.

Now the entire world knows what Ortiz predicted. Lopez can indeed fight.

For more than nine years I’ve seen both boxers march triumphantly through their professional careers. I’ve known and liked both for their personalities and willingness to fight the best. Though Ortiz was unable to continue to fight due to the broken jaw suffered against Lopez, he gave one hell of a fight. That’s all you can ask for.

Lopez now has the world’s attention. For many years he’s been hidden in the new hotbed of boxing talent in Riverside County. Now he joins a few others who have emerged from the desert dust to gain attention from the television spotlights.

Next Riverside Project: Jose Reynoso

Just one week after Josesito Lopez woke up boxing fans nationwide to the ever-growing talent pool of the Inland area, now it’s Jose “El Nino” Reynoso’s turn to show what fighters from Riverside County can do.

Reynoso (16-3-1, 3 KOs) challenges Russia’s ultra tough Ruslan Provodnikov (21-1, 14 KOs) on Friday, June 29, at Omega Products International in Corona. Thompson Boxing Promotions and Banner Promotions are staging the event. ESPN2 will televise.

Ironically, Provodnikov’s only loss came at the hands of another Riverside County prizefighter, Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera. So he will be fully prepared and is now trained by Freddie Roach.

Roach knows Reynoso or maybe he doesn’t. The last time the famed trainer was on the other corner his fighter Dean Byrne of Ireland knocked down the Riverside boxer several times. Then the fight got tough. Since that defeat in 2009, Reynoso has reeled off seven fights without a loss and has been a much better fighter since Roach last saw him.

Reynoso has learned his quirky southpaw style gives opponents fits and he is never under prepared for anyone. Stamina is one of his strengths. Provodnikov also can fight all night long and has never been stopped.

Can Reynoso follow in the footsteps of Lopez who last week stopped former world champion Victor Ortiz, or Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley another Riverside County boxer who pulled off a shocking upset over Manny Pacquiao? Well, maybe it was an upset to people outside of the area but not really to Riverside boxing fans.

In a junior featherweight match, San Diego’s Christopher Martin (23-2-3, 6 KOs) encounters Mexicali, Mexico’s Roberto “Azabache” Castaneda (20-1, 15 KOs) in the semi-main event. Martin is trying to get back into the win column after suffering two losses and a draw this past year. Castaneda is making his first appearance in this country.

Another bout includes a rematch between Maywood’s Lissette Medel (6-1-1) and Las Vegas boxer Tatina Anderson (5-1-1) in a junior lightweight fight. Both fought to a four-round draw a year ago in Primm, Nevada.

Fantasy Springs

IBF junior middleweight titleholder Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage (31-4, 18 KOs) defends against Cory Spinks (39-6, 11 KOs) in a return match on Saturday, June 30, at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio. Bundrage took the title from Spinks nearly two years ago.

Both come from the Midwest. Spinks hails from St. Louis and Bundrage from Detroit. Perhaps this was the best neutral site for the fight.

Bundrage, 39, formerly participated in the Contender reality television series in 2006. Though he didn’t win he proved to be very strong and captured the world title last year by knocking out Spinks in his hometown of St. Louis.

Golden Boy Promotions is the host for the fight card so it may be they are priming the winner of this fight to meet one of their many other junior middleweights.

Several other good match ups are scheduled.

Cuba’s Erislandy Lara ( 16-1-1, 11 KOs) faces Mexico City’s Freddy Hernandez (30-2, 20 KOs) in another junior middleweight bout. The 10-round fight could produce the winner to meet the victor of the Bundrage-Spinks main event. It’s a loaded division and Golden Boy has several of its fighters like James Kirkland, Alfredo Angulo and WBC titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in its vast stable ready to go.

More Lopez

After Riverside’s Lopez defeated Victor Ortiz last Saturday, the CEO of Golden Boy Richard Schaefer said that his performance proved him ready to fight “Canelo” Alvarez. But will it happen on September 15 in Las Vegas as planned? That’s the question.

Rival promoter Top Rank has announced it will stage a world title fight on Sept. 15 in Las Vegas between Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Can Las Vegas host two world title fight cards simultaneously?

More Golden Boy

Oscar “Golden Boy” De La Hoya announced he will attend the fights at Fantasy Springs on Saturday June 30. He will also be available for autographs and photos. The boxing card will be televised on Showtime.

Fights on television

Fri. ESPN2, 7 p.m., Ruslan Provodnikov (21-1) vs. Jose Reynoso (16-3-1).

Sat. Showtime, 9 p.m. Cornelius Bundrage (31-4) vs. Cory Spinks (39-6).

Sat. Telefutura, 11 p.m., Michael Perez (15-1-1) vs. Eric Cruz (13-9-3).

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