“Breaking him down slowly, like a tree.”
STAPLES CENTER, LOS ANGELES – Heading into the championship rounds, Victor Ortiz and Josesito Lopez had exchanged their best punches,.Each man had been hurt but refused to yield due to their desperate needs. For Lopez, it was the hunger to break through boxing’s glass ceiling to the elite level. For Ortiz, it was desire to cash in on a September 15 payday against Mexican star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
A left hook would destroy the dreams and possibly the career of one.
Josesito Lopez, overcoming a bad fifth round rabbit punch and weight disadvantage, used an assortment of big power shots to break his opponent’s jaw in the ninth round and force Ortiz to quit on his stool in a shocking upset.
The first two minutes of the opening round were tactical, as Ortiz sought to do something he’s not known for in establishing an authoritative, southpaw right jab. Lopez caught most of these on the gloves and scored a slashing counter left hook. He would land a big right hook and answer Ortiz’s body shots with a big left hand, forcing Ortiz to hold as the bell sounded.
Lopez picked up the second with left hooks, only to be driven to the ropes by a Ortiz assortment of power shots. Ortiz got the jab going only to be caught with another left hook, prompting a furious exchange. Ortiz got the better of it but Lopez had him again retreating at round’s end, this time off a hard right. Ortiz got the final say at the bell courtesy of a late straight left.
Ortiz would not have a full round of dominance until the fourth. His straight left continually split Lopez’s guard, forcing repeated holding.
Ortiz brought that momentum into the fifth, getting the better of the exchanges early on. A blatant rabbit punch on Lopez caused him to take a brief delay. He came back well with left hooks and cuffing right hands inside while Ortiz still landed consistently with straight lefts.
Ortiz took the sixth, again behind uppercuts inside and straight lefts. Lopez roared back in seventh, crashing home haymaker overhand rights and a neck-snapping, left-right uppercut combination. Ortiz stormed back with a straight left and returned the favor with his own thudding uppercuts. Lopez waved Ortiz in, much to the delight of a crowd firmly immersed in the spectacle. Lopez closed out the round walking down Ortiz with big left hooks.
In the corner, Ortiz could be seen whispering to his trainer, who responded by telling him he had to continue and finish strong.
Ortiz went back to the right jab in the eighth with good results. Lopez adjusted with counter right crosses and uppercuts when Ortiz stepped forward with hooks.
Ortiz controlled the beginning of the ninth behind his jab and straight lefts, only to have Lopez break his momentum with more exchanges. Lopez crashed home a lead left hook. A right uppercut-left hook combination landed, along with a counter left off Ortiz’s jab. Ortiz responded with a right hook and straight left, but was visibly hurt by a late counter left hook that was later confirmed as the punch that broke his jaw. Lopez would land a few right hooks to close out the round decisively.
Ortiz’s corner tried to keep him calm, but he signaled to the referee the pain was too much and opted to retire on his stool before the start of the tenth. For Lopez, it was a victory that was never in doubt.
“I had to fight the fight of my life,” said Lopez. “I knew I caught him every round with a few punches that hurt him… [I was] breaking him down slowly, like a tree.”
“I’m a man and not intimidated by anything, Victor tried to intimidate me but it didn’t work. Victor has no heart.”
“I’ll fight anybody. I’m the Mexican Paul Williams.”
Canelo Alvarez, who’s now seen a third potential big name opponent fall through, wore a look of bemused disbelief ringside after the verdict.
On the undercard, Lucas Matthysse did not leave his fate to another possible heart-breaking decision loss in stopping Humberto Soto.
Soto came out blazing, using his faster hands to clip the ponderous Matthysse with left hook counters. Matthysse succeeded in getting inside more in the second, but Soto effectively fought off the ropes with overhand rights. An omen of things to come was witnessed when a Matthysse right hand after the bell dropped Soto.
Matthysse kicked off the third with strafing rights to the body. The shots pushed Soto to the ropes and into the line of fire of Matthysse’s overhand right. They traded at ring center; Matthysse landed harder blows while Soto held even with a higher volume of work, especially with the left hook.
Matthysse’s body shots now had a visible effect; Soto would back away any time Matthysse landed. A right hand briefly stunned Soto, but he returned the favor with a collection of uppercuts.
Matthysse smashed home a left hook to start the fifth and doubled the punch to the body and head. Soto responded with flurries off the ropes. Matthysse forced a clinch with his body shots and hurt Soto with a right hand. He followed up with another that knocked Soto under the ropes at the bell.
Soto beat the count only to have his corner rule he was in no condition to continue.
The win is the biggest of Matthysse’s career and makes him a possible opponent for next month’s Amir Khan vs. Danny Garcia winner or Josesito Lopez.
If you were still feeling sour about the Pacquiao-Bradley decision, last night probably reminded you why you love the Sweet Science. We got two excellent matchups with the loser having to be separated from his senses or suffer a bad injury to lose.
A lot of people are disgusted with Ortiz but I think it’s more to do with past history than what happened last night. A broken jaw is extremely painful by itself, let alone with it getting punched repeatedly by a world-class boxer. Someone on Twitter mentioned to me about Ali fighting through a second round broken jaw at the hands of Ken Norton. True, but that’s why he’s Muhammad Ali! Ortiz isn’t in that class of hard men and that’s not a knock on him.
Make no mistake, there’s been other fighters to battle through that pain: Sonny Liston at the hands of Lloyd Marshall and more recently Arthur Abraham’s badly broken jaw at the fists of power puncher Edison Miranda. With Ortiz, I believe fans have low tolerance for any type of quitting behavior from him courtesy of his antics in the Mayweather fight and what happened against Maidana. Right or wrong, that’s just how it is.
Funny thing is, I picked Ortiz almost solely because of his power and him being the “bigger man.” Tell me, who started looking like the bigger man in those last few rounds? Lopez was putting all his weight into every shot and weight difference aside there’s only so many haymaker bombs you can take like that. Check out Ortiz in the corner the last few rounds. You can’t hear what he’s saying, but it’s clear he wanted out of there even before the jaw fracture.
I’m starting to think September 15 is cursed for Canelo. Three opponents have fallen through in the span of a month. Golden Boy just needs to take the loss and come off that date. Wait until October and put together an awesome undercard with Canelo and Kirkland headlining.
How long do you think we have to wait for Josesito Lopez vs. Lucas Matthysse? Make that ASAP.