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Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez Versus Josesito ‘Little Joe’ Lopez: It’s Ugly

Posted on 07/11/2012

By Ivan G. Goldman

The battle between rival promoters Golden Boy and Top Rank took an ugly turn Wednesday when a deal was signed for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez to fight the much smaller Josesito Lopez Sept. 15 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The deal was first announced by Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times.

Photo: Gene Blevens/ Hogan Photos

Golden Boy’s Alvarez is a solid 154-pounder and holds the WBC junior middleweight title. Lopez, who went up seven pounds to beat Golden Boy’s Victor Ortiz at the welterweight limit June 23, said immediately after his victory that he was going back down to 140. Yet now he’s going up yet another seven pounds, which is 14 pounds above his natural fighting weight. Lopez’s surprise victory wrecked Golden Boy’s plans to pit Ortiz against Canelo for a big Sept. 15 pay-per-view show.

In the ring Canelo and Lopez will compare like a great white shark and a guppy. But Lopez, who’s promoted by Thompson Boxing Promotions, got plenty of publicity for breaking Ortiz’s jaw and making him quit though Ortiz was ahead on all cards. So Golden Boy is jumping in to pit Lopez at the wrong weight against the wrong fighter on the wrong night. The Times said there will be no catch weight, so Lopez’s corner better prepare for blood and thunder from the hard-hitting Canelo.

Presumably all the lumps on Lopez’s face put there by Ortiz will be healed by Sept. 15. Or maybe not. This match-up has nothing to do with boxing as a legitimate sport. It has everything to do with the vicious personal rivalry between Top Rank and Golden Boy and a cavalier disregard for Lopez’s health. Clearly Golden Boy made Lopez an offer he couldn’t refuse. Ironically, “Josesito” means ‘little Joe” in Spanish.

Canelo’s original opponent, Paul Williams, was tragically paralyzed in a motorcycle crash. The next designated hitter, James Kirkland, pulled out too. But Golden Boy’s CEO Richard Schaefer desperately wanted to fill that September 15 date, which Top Rank’s Bob Arum had meanwhile usurped with a much-anticipated match between Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. and Sergio Martinez.

Years ago when Oscar De La Hoya was promoted by Arum lots of critics complained that Arum had a habit of matching his golden goose Oscar with fighters who were too small or too old. Apparently Oscar, who’s president of Golden Boy, is repeating what he learned at the feet of the master, who for years had battled Don King for king of the boxing hill. But King has slowed down lately. Arum, 80, is still running circles around his opposition. You get the feeling he’s determined to drive Golden Boy into the dirt before he retires.

The rivalry has a kind of Oedipus tinge to it. Oscar and Arum used to have something very close to a father-and-son relationship. Oscar even gave Arum the Gold Medal he won in the 1992 Olympics. But as time went on, De La Hoya decided he wanted a bigger share of the loot and started up Golden Boy. At first his promotional company ran only small events and not very professionally. But then he met up with Swiss banker Richard Schaefer and convinced him to take the helm, presumably for a good piece of the action.

For awhile Oscar was promoting smaller cards while he allowed Arum to continue promoting his own fights. Everyone could see an explosion was imminent. Eventually Oscar and Schaefer promoted Oscar’s fights too, and Golden Boy is now Arum’s most significant rival.

When Arum jumped into the Sept. 15 date with his own card, Oscar, interviewed on YouTube, said the feud was “personal.” “Of course it’s personal,” he said. Clearly Arum could have made more money by setting his event on a date that offered no scheduling conflict for fans. Now while Canelo is thumping Lopez at the MGM, Martinez and Chavez will go at it just a couple miles away at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

This thing is bound to get worse before it gets better.

Ivan G. Goldman’s latest novel Isaac: A Modern Fable came out in April 2012 from Permanent Press. Information HERE

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