LOS ANGELES-Under a slightly hot sun Victor “Vicious” Ortiz, Josesito Lopez and Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola met the press outside of the Staples Center on Wednesday. No more Clippers or Lakers; just boxing and the Kings.
After Ortiz’s original opponent was forced to cancel, Riverside’s Lopez and his pal Arreola are stepping in to fill the marquee fight card on Saturday, June 23. Nothing could please Golden Boy, Goossen-Tutor and Thompson Boxing Promotions more.
It was going to be a tough sell when Ortiz was set to fight Andre Berto in a rematch of their Fight of the Year of 2011. Berto may be good but has yet to become a household name in Southern California. He’ll get his chance later down the road.
So when Berto’s positive drug test forced him out, in stepped Lopez and Arreola who will bring their legion of fans built up over the past 10 years in both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, or, as it’s more commonly known: the Inland Empire.
“It’s going to be fireworks,” said Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, adding that this card trumps the previous card.
One major addition is including very popular Mexican-American heavyweight Arreola. His crowd pleasing style has attracted fans to both the Staples Center and Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.
“This is the man who had five fights in 2011, it’s unheard of in the heavyweight division,” said Tom Brown, the matchmaker for Goossen-Tutor.
Arreola stepped to the microphone looking svelte and ready for action.
“It’s an honor to be here at Staples Center again. The last time I got my ass kicked. It was an embarrassment,” said Arreola, who is never at a loss for words. Plus his words are as blunt as his blows.
Brown said a heavyweight opponent is still being sought.
Arreola promises a knockout no matter who it is.
“I hate decisions,” Arreola said.
Ken Thompson, president of Thompson Boxing Promotions, expects a spectacular card.
“When these young gladiators walk into the ring they’re going to light it up,” said Thompson, who co-promotes Lopez along with Goossen-Tutor.
“Come June 23 I’m prepared. I’ve been working hard. I’m excited to be here at the Staples Center, the home of the Lakers,” said Lopez, whose last fight was a close loss to Jessie Vargas by split decision last September in Las Vegas. “It’s a lifetime opportunity. I’m going to give it everything I got and leave it all in the ring.”
Nobody hypes a fight better than Rolando Arrellano, who manages Ventura’s former welterweight world champion Ortiz.
“We consider him (Lopez) a very formidable opponent, he has the spirit of a lion. We will train as if we’re going into a major championship…I want to welcome you to the big leagues,” said Arrellano to Lopez sitting nearby. “We applaud you. A lot of people said why not Amir Khan? Why not Marcos Maidana? Because they said ‘no’ and Josesito said yes.”
Ortiz’s trainer Daniel Garcia added more to that thought.
“Josesito gets the opportunity to fight Victor. We thank Josesito and all of his team. It’s going to be a great fight, he has a lot of experience and a lot of style,” said Garcia, while looking at Lopez and Arreola. “Arreola is a great fighter, he’s going to make it a more exciting evening of boxing.”
Ortiz looked cool, calm and collected despite the rather warm temperatures.
“I’m not taking anyone for granted. I’ve watched Josesito quite a bit. He’s a great fighter. We share one thing in common and that’s a lot of heart,” said Ortiz. “Oh wait. One more thing we share in common is our middle name Manuel…The Berto thing didn’t work out. We got to prepare for another champ.”
Tickets begin at $50 and go up to $250.
The main event is Victor Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) vs. Josesito Lopez (29-4, 17 KOs). The semi main event will feature Chris Arreola (35-2, 30 KOs) against an opponent to be named later. Humberto Soto (58-7-2, 34 KOs) vs. Lucas Matthysse (30-2, 28 KOs); Randy Caballero (14-0, 7 KOs) vs. Jamal Parram (5-5-1, 4 KOs) plus several more bouts.