Southern California is jammed-packed with prize fights but the war between the cities of Ventura and Riverside heads the list of conflicts.
Former welterweight world champion “Vicious” Victor Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) of Ventura and its strawberries must defeat Riverside’s Josesito Lopez (29-4, 17 KOs) and its vast region of oranges on Saturday, June 23. Their civil war takes place at Staples Center and will be televised on Showtime.
So where and how are the strawberries and oranges involved?
Well, the mayor of Ventura backs Ortiz and strawberries are the primary produce of that city of more than 100,000. He’s willing to wager a flat of the red berries that Ortiz is going to emerge the winner.
Meanwhile, 120 miles southeast, the mayor of Riverside says one 25-pound bag of oranges will remain in the city of more than 270,000 because Lopez will return the conquering hero.
“We’ve had gyms and trainers for a long time and I don’t know how many other cities have the kind of tradition that we’ve had in boxing,” said Mayor Ron Loveridge.
Ventura’s Ortiz is a hard-hitting southpaw who formerly held the WBC welterweight title, but lost to Floyd “Money” Mayweather in 2011. Both he and Lopez are very likeable warriors but inside the boxing ropes they’re equally determined to conquer the other.
“I know Josesito (Lopez) is ready to go and so am I,” said Ortiz during a conference call.
Unlike Ortiz, the Riverside prizefighter has never fought at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“It’s always great to fight in a place like the Staples Center,” said Lopez, who was a replacement for former world champion Andre Berto to fight former world champion Ortiz. “(Ortiz) is a great fighter. An exceptional fighter, but we’re ready for it.”
Lopez had been scheduled to fight Kendall Holt on June 22. When the site changed from Morongo Casino to an outdoor venue Soboba Casino, the New Jersey-based Holt decided to pull out. Lopez was left without an opponent.
Ortiz was scheduled to face Berto but when that fighter tested positive for performance enhancement drugs, the fight was canceled. When Ortiz’s promoter Golden Boy Promotions looked for a suitable opponent they saw that Lopez was available. The Riverside prizefighter had almost beaten another Golden Boy fighter Jessie Vargas earlier in the year. Lopez was asked to face Ortiz and consented.
“It was a slam dunk,” said Lopez’s trainer and manager Henry Ramirez. “Not only is it a bigger fight against a more prestigious opponent, it’s for 10 times more money.”
Lopez said he’s not thinking about the money but more on lifting his own status.
“I’m a little bit on the quiet side. Not a lot of people hear from me, but those that have seen me, know I can fight. After this fight people will definitely know who I am.”
Recently, Golden Boy Promotions announced that an agreement was made to have Ortiz fight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in Las Vegas on Sept. 15. It seemed premature.
“I took it as disrespectful,” said Lopez. “It pushes me that much harder to get in there and kick Victor’s butt.”
Around the Inland areas several fighters including Timothy Bradley Jr. and Julio Diaz believe that Lopez could upset Ortiz’s plans to fight Alvarez in September.
“Victor is fighting a real fighter,” said Diaz. “Josesito is the real deal, he’s not a pushover.”
Ortiz knows what ordeal he’ll be engaging and is not flustered.
“I don’t disrespect anyone. As far as I’m concerned I’m fighting a great fighter in Josesito. I don’t really care about Canelo right now. There is a dangerous fighter that is in the route I was in a year ago,” says Ortiz.
A year ago Ortiz shocked most of the fight world by defeating Berto to win the WBC welterweight title.
Other city wars
Starting on Friday, two boxing cards take place in different locations in the Inland area.
Junior featherweight prospect Jonathan Arellano (12-0-1, 3 KOs) faces Mexico’s ultra tough Jose Angel Beranza (35-23-2, 27 KOs) in the main event at Ontario Doubletree Hotel.
Arellano has steadily moved up the ranks as a prospect but has not faced an opponent with Beranza’s experience and know how. The Mexico City veteran has fought numerous world champions and is the only boxer to beat Puerto Rico’s rugged Jesus Rojas who fought Jorge Arce a couple of weeks ago. That fight was stopped for a no decision. Don’t expect an easy fight.
Also on the Ontario fight card will be welterweight contender Artemio Reyes Jr. (15-2, 11 KOs) matched against Enrique Gutierrez (10-4, 8 KOs) in an eight round fight. Both boxers have significant power. Another added attraction will be East L.A.’s hard fighting Ramon Valadez (11-1, 6 KOs) clashing with Mexico’s Aalan Martinez (10-1-1, 6 KOs) in a featherweight collision. Don’t blink on this fight.
Soboba Casino also has a loaded fight card on Friday with speedy welterweight contender Mike Dallas Jr. (18-2-1, 7 KOs) matched with Javier Castro (27-4, 22 KOs) in the 10 round main event.
Dallas returns to the Inland area after a solid win in Texas. He’s fought twice before but didn’t fare well against two Riverside boxers, Josesito Lopez and Mauricio Herrera. But this time he faces Mexican slugger Castro who has a three-fight win streak, all by knockout.
Also on the Soboba Casino fight card is former U.S. Olympian Javier Molina (10-1, 4 KOs) fighting Octavio Narvaez (7-11-1) in a junior middleweight contest.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, Mike Dallas Jr, (18-2-1) vs. Javier Castro (27-4).
Sat. pay-per-view, 7 p.m., Wanderlie Silva (34-11-1) vs. Rich Franklin (28-6); Fabricio Werdum (15-5-1) vs. Mike Russow (15-1); Yuri Alcantara (26-3) vs. Hacran Dias.
Sat. Showtime, 9 p.m., Victor Ortiz (29-3-2) vs. Josesito Lopez (29-4).
Sat. Telefutura, 11 p.m., Rico Ramos (20-1) vs. Efrain Esquivias (16-0).
Who's the best Mexican boxer today?