New Interview with the “Riverside Rocky”
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Just six days after his bout against Canelo Alvarez at the MGM Grand
in Vegas, Josesito Lopez sat ringside at the “Path to Glory” card presented by his co-promoter Thompson Boxing Promotions
. During the Friday night fights
at the Doubletree in Ontario, I caught up with this famed underdog, who has had an incredible three-month media blitz.
From his shocking upset of Victor Ortiz on June 23 to his loss to the larger Canelo Alvarez on September 15, it’s been quite a ride for this humble slugger from Riverside, California. He inspired many with his underdog victory over Ortiz (breaking his jaw in two places) and many were hoping lightning would strike twice with Lopez somehow pulling off a win over the popular Canelo.
But for this puncher (nicknamed the “Riverside Rocky”), there would be no fairy tale ending in the September 15 battle. After moving up in weight from 140 to 147 for Ortiz, Lopez stepped up to 154 for the Canelo fight. Alvarez, built like a tank, was no match for the SoCal underdog. After three knockdowns, Jose lost by a TKO in the fifth.
They say you can never count a champ out. And Lopez (30-5, 18 KOs), the reigning WBC Silver Welterweight Champ, promises to bounce back at a weight more beneficial for his frame.
And while he was undermanned in his war against Canelo, his heart and courage were not lost on the viewers. If anything, his fans have shown him even more support after he suffered this month’s defeat.
“No one has more heart than Josesito!” his co-promoter Ken Thompson told me. “He will be back stronger than ever.” Lopez was the very first boxer signed by President Ken Thompson and General Manager/Matchmaker Alex Camponovo and since then, the now 28-year-old and his proud promoters have traveled a long road to find worldwide success–culminating in his marquee matchup versus superstar Canelo.
Co-promoted by Thompson Boxing Promotions and Goossen Tutor Promotions, Jose (trained by Henry Ramirez) now plans to take a much-deserved four-month break before his next fight.
In the meantime, the Mexican warrior will continue to inspire others as the little underdog that could. While he did not topple the powerful Canelo, his grit and gumption still inspired those in the world, proving that an underdog can still be triumphant. He was mobbed in Vegas, at times needing six bodyguards to combat the crowd, and the fans have latched onto this proven underdog.
At last Friday’s “Path to Glory” in Ontario, I noticed a constant stream of fans approach Lopez for an autograph or photo. Known as a nice guy in the sport, Jose rarely turns down any requests for a quick pic or a signature on a glove. From fellow fighters to little boys to female admirers, all voiced the same opinion that they respect him for his heart and bravery. His fans told me they loved him for his blue-collar background raised in poverty, the hardship of having a father incarcerated and for his pure guts in never quitting, always willing to go out on his shield.
This is a boxer who did not come with a pedigree–with no high expectations placed upon him–and yet he worked hard to attain what most will never accomplish. It is this hard work and his toughness that captured the hearts of the fans, the Average Joes who relate to him. He may have been battered, bruised, beaten up… but just like Rocky Balboa, as long as that heart was still beating there was no quit in Josesito Lopez.
And when emcee Sonny Franco announced Lopez to the audience, guess which song was playing?
It was “Gonna Fly Now”–the theme from “Rocky,” of course!
During rounds, I had some time to chat with this hometown hero. Here’s what he had to say!
MC: Hi Jose, what’s next for you? What weight will you fight at?
JL: I think 140 or 147, or maybe at a catchweight.
MC: When will you return to the ring?
JL: I’m gonna take some time off after these last three months. I started training back in March when I was supposed to fight Kendall Holt and I haven’t stopped since. It’s been a crazy schedule. So I plan to return in early 2013, maybe January.
MC: Who would you like to fight?
JL: I want to fight Danny Garcia; I think that would be a really good fight! A lot of people have also mentioned Amir Khan.
MC: And what bout a rematch with Ortiz?
JL: Yes, there’s been a lot of talk about that too and I think that could happen in the future.
MC: What was your experience like in Vegas with the media spotlight and Showtime’s “All Access” covering your every move?
JL: Everyone at the MGM Grand and Showtime were great! They treated us well. We went to a Mana concert the night after my fight–and the fans were so supportive. I definitely feel the support of everyone.
MC: Before or after your fight with Canelo, did you ever run into Victor Ortiz who was attending the fight?
JL: No, I never saw him! But I did see Paul Williams and had a chance to talk to him and that was cool. He’s doing good and his positive attitude is amazing. But I never saw or spoke with Victor while in Vegas.
MC: How many times have you watched the replay of your fight against Ortiz?
JL: I’ve only seen it once! (Laughs) I don’t like to watch my fights; I see what I do wrong so it’s hard to watch. (Laughs) And I haven’t watched the fight replay with Canelo and I don’t think I will.
MC: Right before the Kendall Holt fight fell through, you told me that would be your biggest fight to date and you were thinking of buying a new car to celebrate. Since then, you beat Victor Ortiz and faced Canelo–and got even bigger paychecks. (Laughs) So what are you going to buy to celebrate?
JL: (Laughs) Hmmmmm, I don’t know if I’ll buy a new car yet. I think I’ll buy a mountain bike!
MC: (Laughs) Okay well congrats again on being the new “People’s Champ” with all your fan support.
When Lopez returns to the 140-147 divisions, he’ll have a broad scope of foes to face. After being the big underdog in his last two matches, fighting at a more comfortable weight should be a piece of cake for the pug.
He may be called the “Riverside Rocky” after his dismantling of Victor Ortiz but after his loss to Canelo, Josesito can also be called the new “People’s Champ.”
Photos by Michele Chong
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