Boxing isn't a fair sport. It never has been and probably never will be.
Fighters like Josesito Lopez are little more than commodities, pawns in the big-money, high-stakes game promoters play with guys like Canelo Alvarez.
Lopez is only 28, but he's been a pro for nearly a decade and understands the realities of boxing at the highest level. He knows full well he wasn't signed to beat Alvarez on Sept. 15 in Las Vegas.
Golden Boy Promotions has bet heavily that Alvarez will be boxing's next major draw. It's gone to the wall with Top Rank, and much of the boxing industry, over the Sept. 15 date because it is so desperate to showcase Alvarez on the traditional Mexican Independence Day weekend fight card.
Golden Boy is putting on a show featuring Alvarez two blocks away from where Top Rank will be staging a middleweight title fight between Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on pay-per-view.
The Martinez-Chavez match is the bigger, more significant fight, and most of the major boxing media will be at the Thomas & Mack Center covering it.
The Golden Boy show is almost guaranteed to bomb at the gate, and some fans are already reporting they've been offered free tickets to the show at the MGM Grand.
None of that matters, though. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer is willing to eat the live gate, because he wants to set up a potential Alvarez-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight for the spring of 2013.
That fight would do massive business in Mexico, and would be a hit on American pay-per-view, so Schaefer is willing to do whatever he can to guarantee that it happens.
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Golden Boy wanted an opponent for Alvarez who was talented enough to push him, but one who was not good enough to win. Lopez has fought much of his career at 135 and 140 pounds and few in the industry believe he's sturdy enough to stand up to Alvarez, a physically strong 154-pounder, over the course of a long fight.
"That's what they said when I accepted the [Victor] Ortiz fight, too, that I was too small," Lopez said, laughing, without a hint of pretense or braggadocio in his voice. "I knew I was big enough."
Lopez has been down this path before. In early June, Andre Berto failed a drug test, eliminating him from a planned June 23 fight with Ortiz.
Ortiz is an exceptionally gifted, but wildly inconsistent fighter, one who's far too up-and-down for a major promotional company to bet heavily upon. He can look like a threat to Sugar Ray Robinson one moment and appear completely lost the next.
But Golden Boy wanted to see Ortiz win on June 23, because it would have set up an attractive pay-per-view match with Alvarez. So, when Berto failed his drug test, and with few other viable options available, Golden Boy reached out to Lopez.
Lopez was brought, in essence, as cannon fodder. His job was to absorb a beating from Ortiz so that Golden Boy could steer Ortiz to that Alvarez bout on the heels of a rousing win.
However, that didn't happen.
"There were a lot of doubters out there," Lopez said. "I understand that. Victor was the [more well known] fighter. But I always believed I could win. "
When Lopez did win – he broke Ortiz's jaw and forced him to quit on the stool after the ninth round – he didn't gloat.
There were plenty of critics who bashed Lopez when he signed on to fight Ortiz, calling it a terrible mismatch. But Lopez and Ortiz put on one of the better fights of the year and, somewhat shockingly, Lopez managed to pull out the win.
He showed his class by resisting the urge to thumb his nose at those who berated him and said he'd have no chance.
"I'm not laughing at anybody," Lopez said. "But all of that talk and all of those people who said I had no chance, that just made my victory that much sweeter."
The win didn't earn Lopez the fight with Alvarez immediately. Golden Boy looked around for another opponent before settling on Lopez.
With the bout a little more than a month away, Lopez is beginning to work on promoting the fight. And he's hearing many of the same questions he heard before he fought Ortiz: Why did you take a fight you can't win? Aren't you too small?
He politely answers them and admits that, yes, he's crazy enough to believe he can beat Alvarez, too.
"I got a huge opportunity against Ortiz and now I'm getting another chance against an even bigger and better fighter on Sept. 15, Canelo Alvarez," Lopez said. "It is a fight I couldn't say not to, not only because I think I could push myself to the limit and give Canelo the kind of fight no one else has given him, but because I can win it.
"He's a great fighter; a good fighter. But be honest: Has anyone really tested him? Is he as great as he has looked? I don't know. He's looked great in his fights, but no one has tested him. I will test him. We'll see if he is as great as he has looked in a lot of these fights."
Lopez is a bit player at this stage of his career, but he knows he's got the one thing that so many quality fighters who came before him never got:
"If you don't get the chance, you can't pull the upset and shock the world," Lopez said. "You can't win the big fight if you never get the big fight. I knew that [Ortiz] fight was very important to me, but I believed in myself and knew I could win. A lot of the people, the fans, the media, who didn't think I could win, it wasn't personal against me.
"They had seen Victor on television and knew a lot about him, so they went with him. And now, it's the same with Canelo. I understand it. But this is another chance for me. I wasn't intimidated by Victor and I won't be by Canelo, either."
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