By Ivan G. Goldman
Golden Boy Promotions has a habit of throwing welterweight Victor Ortiz off the back of a truck and instructing him to try not to hurt himself as he bounces along the asphalt. That was the procedure when it tossed him in with vastly superior Floyd Mayweather last year.
Photo by Gene Blevins/Hogan Photos
This year it’s sticking him into a junior middleweight bout against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, tentatively scheduled for September 15, though that may change if Top Rank really means to play chicken and schedule middleweights Sergio Martinez versus Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. on another pay-per-view card on the same date, which happens to be the eve of Mexican Independence Day. It’s beginning to look like despised rivals Golden Boy and Top Rank, whose mutual loathing is genuine and severe, may need a cage-fight referee to work out their differences before they murder each other.
How Ortiz will fare at 154 pounds against Alvarez, a bigger guy who could punch holes through a battleship hull, has yet to be seen. But Golden Boy does manage to get Ortiz some big purses for his suicidal outings, and it looks like a seriously good match-up for as long as it lasts.
In the meantime, Ortiz is set to fact Josesito Lopez, 29-4 (17) this Saturday night in L.A.’s Staple Center. Lopez, who hails from nearby Riverside, has never been kayoed and all his losses have been close. But his opposition has been nowhere near the caliber of Victor Ortiz, who moved up to welter last November to defeat Andre Berto for the WBC belt. Lopez is a product of Thompson Promotions, a rising maverick in the boxing game that apparently has plenty of cash to make a splash.
Golden Boy, by already penciling Lopez in as a challenger three months later against WBC light middleweight champ Alvarez in Las Vegas, is basically admitting that the fight this Saturday is no more than a tune-up for Ortiz, a way to fill that Showtime date on the calendar. And it’s basically a good thing. This way all the fighters on the card get paid after being blindsided when Berto, who war originally scheduled to face Ortiz in a rematch this Saturday, tested positive for PEDs.
The bandit WBC gang will wet its beak Saturday by pronouncing its blessings on Lopez-Ortiz as a “silver” welterweight title match. Whether this is higher or lower than the “diamond” WBC belt held by middleweight Sergio Martinez is something the WBC will have to explain. All these various WBC metals are getting terribly confusing, sort of like that color-coded terror alert status we used to get from the great minds in the Homeland Security Department that have twice searched Al Gore before letting him board planes.
Funny thing about that Showtime show. It’s being challenged by upstart Telefutura the same night in a ballroom across town, and Telefutura may offer the better show. It’s no tune-up, but a tussle between two excellent, evenly matched super bantams, neither of whom can afford to lose — Efrain Esquivias and Rico Ramos.
Personable Esquivias, 16-0 (9), is a 28-year-old trickster who’s got good pop. He got a late start on his pro career because he wasted years trying to get past the amateur judges to make the U.S. Olympic team. Ramos is a skilled 24-year-old whose only loss is to Cuban phenom Guillermo Rigondeaux, who stopped him in six, walking off with the WBA title that Ramos had just earned in his previous outing against champion Akifumi Shimoda. Ramos, who kayoed Shimoda in the seventh, is clearly no tomato can either.
Ramos and Esquivias are both L.A. guys. They’ve sparred with each other while preparing for other opponents, knowing that some night they would meet for real. Saturday night is that night. Ramos can’t afford two losses in a row. It would put him a couple years behind in his quest for another shot at another world title. If Esquivias loses he gets thrown back into the bottom of the pile before ever getting near a big payday. It’s make or break for both of them.
Which show you want to turn to is your own choice, but I’ve made my decision. I’m setting up Ortiz-Lopez on the DVR and driving across town to see Ramos-Esquivias in the flesh.
Ivan G. Goldman’s latest novel Isaac: A Modern Fable came out in April 2012 from Permanent Press. Information HERE