Sometimes even when you lose, you win.
Losing two consecutive fights might destroy another fighter’s psyche, but with Josesito Lopez it simply added luster to his burgeoning reputation as a fighter’s fighter.
Of course it helped that Lopez battled heart and soul with two fearsome fighters like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and the sledge hammer-fisted Marcos Maidana. After those two back-to-back fights the media tagged him the “Riverside Rocky.” In boxing lexicon it’s a badge of courage.
Riverside’s Lopez (30-6, 18 Kos) now fights a former world title contender “Mighty” Mike Arnaoutis (24-9-2, 11 Kos) in the main event on Friday, Dec. 13, at Fantasy Springs Casino. The Golden Boy Promotions fight card will also be televised on Fox Sports 1.
If two losses affected Lopez in any way, it sure doesn’t show.
“At the end of the day you have to put it behind you and move on,” said Lopez during a media day in Montebello. “I know I have world champion talent. I just have to go out and show it.”
Showing his fighting heart has been the secret to his success. In his three last fights he entered the boxing ring as a huge underdog and in every bout Lopez fought with almost inhuman ferocity and tenacity against Alvarez, Maidana and Victor Ortiz. All are previous world champions.
“Oh, Josesito is a real fighter,” said world champion Tim Bradley, who sparred Lopez in the past.
When a boxer calls another “a real fighter” that’s code for: he’s not just in there for a paycheck.
Throughout boxing history so called real fighters have emerged who don’t necessarily possess God-given athletic skills or power. Instead, they harbor a blue hot burning intensity to win even when the odds look dim.
Back in the 1950s a boxer named Gaspar Ortega epitomized that fighting spirit. In the 1980s there was Matthew Saad Muhammad, and in the early 2000s there were Micky Ward and Arturo Gatti. These guys would literally be on their back, nearly unconscious and looking up at the ceiling. Seconds later they would get up, kick into another gear as if possessed and suddenly be winning the fight.
Lopez has that kind of fighting spirit.
“You can’t teach that,” said famed trainer Ben Lira, who has worked with numerous world champions over 50 years. “You either have it or you don’t.”
The 29-year-old Lopez has big plans and is not content with simply putting up a good fight.
“My goal is to win a world title,” said Lopez.
Former U.S. Olympian Joseph Diaz (7-0, 5 Kos) fights Carlos Rodriguez (18-12-4) in a junior featherweight contest. One of the other fights includes prospect Diego De La Hoya (1-0), the cousin of Oscar De La Hoya. The 19-year-old De La Hoya comes from Mexicali and has been training with Joel Diaz in Indio. Big things are expected of the next generation of De La Hoyas. “I know there’s a lot of pressure on him because of his name, but this kid could be a world champion. Mark my words,” said Diaz. All will be fighting at Fantasy Springs Casino.
First Riverside MMA Champion
Georgi Karakhanyan (23-3) defeated Lance Palmer (7-1) by submission in the third round to capture the World Series of Fighting featherweight championship in Vancouver, Canada on Saturday.
Karakhanyan, 28, submitted Palmer with a guillotine choke at 4:40 of round three after a high-paced back and forth battle.
"Lance Palmer is a great fighter," Karakhanyan said after the win. "He comes from a good wrestling background. My coach, Romie Aram, told me to keep it standing and pick him apart, but Lance was trying to drag me down. It was a very tough fight, but if I put that guillotine on you, I don't care who you are, you're tapping."
Fights on television
Fri. Fox Sports 1, 7 p.m., Josesito Lopez (30-6) vs. (24-9-2).
Sat. Showtime, 5 p.m., Adrien Broner (27-0) vs. Marcos Maidana (34-3); Leo Santa Cruz (25-0-1) vs. Cesar Seda (25-1); and Keith Thurman (21-0) vs. Jesus Soto Karass (28-8-3).
Sat. Fox Sports, 5 p.m., Demetrious Johnson (18-2-1) vs. Joseph Benavidez (19-3).
Sat. NBC, 7 p.m., Amir Mansour (19-0) vs. Kelvin Price (14-1).
Sat. Fox Deportes, 10 p.m., Frankie Gomez (15-0) vs. Prince Doku (18-3).
Sat. UniMas, 11 p.m., Gamalier Rodriguez (22-2-3) vs. Aldimar Santos (19-5).