By: Sergio L. Martinez
Josesito Lopez (30-4, 18 KOs), in training for his September 15 clash in Las Vegas against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (40-0-1) for the WBC light middleweight title, recently spoke to Boxing Insider and discussed a variety of issues, including who his boxing heroes are and why he took a fight with a guy many people believe he has no chance of beating.
JOSESITO LOPEZ ON…
“Growing up, I tried a little bit of some soccer. My parents put me in many different sports. I tried softball, baseball, and throughout high school, I ran track, cross country. I was really successful at running but, at the end of the day, boxing was what I really wanted to do.
“I’ve actually been involved in the sport of boxing since I was 11 years old. Boxing is really not a team sport. It’s one person and there really is no one to blame but yourself when things go wrong, and I liked that. When I was like 16 or 17, I started getting a little bit better and felt a lot more comfortable. Even then, I really was more focused on high school: my track and cross country, and I really would only fight when I had some time.
“My senior year, my cross country team won the state championship in 2002. I was the team captain and it was something I was committed to, and I wasn’t just going to let it go. I was pretty good at it and got some scholarship offers to [California State University, San Bernadino], [California State University, San Diego] and a few other universities. I let some pretty good scholarship opportunities pass me by because, after high school, I just really wanted to box. By the time I graduated, I was just done. To be a track and long-distance runner is extremely hard work. I was fed-up with running 50 to 60 miles every week. It’s exhausting; so I was done with running. I really liked baseball but I was never really a good player to compete, so boxing is the only other thing I really know how to do: so I chose boxing instead.”
HIS BOXING HEROES
“I was a big fan of (Oscar) De La Hoya. I really loved the way Tito Trinidad fought and Fernando Vargas. The fight that really motivated me to get into boxing was the first fight of Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. That one was a classic and is really the one that made me want to be a fighter. In an actual fight, I never try to mimic anyone, but during training, I do try to take the good things that some fighters do. Like Morales: he’s just a warrior man but he is also smart in the ring. He is very, very intelligent in the ring. I admire that.”
THE BUSINESS SIDE OF BOXING
“I would say that I have a lot of mixed feelings about the business, you know, ‘cause there’s a lot more to boxing than just the fighting. It sucks when fighters work real hard for a fight and they just can’t pull off the victory for whatever reason, whether it’s having to go into somebody’s backyard and fighting him. If you’re a huge underdog, then you have so many things against you. Still, I feel that all of my experiences have made me stronger ‘cause I know that I can fight through adversity.
“Everything that has happened in my career has basically put me in the position that I am now. If it wasn’t for those losses that I’ve had, I wouldn’t have learned anything and I would be a different fighter. I don’t regret anything that has happened and I’m in a good position right now and I’m going to make the most of it.”
HIS NEXT OPPONENT, SAUL “CANELO” ALVAREZ
“You know what, they’ve done really good of setting him up and getting him to this point right now. I’ve had to fight for my life to get here. He hasn’t had to do that yet. I’ve never had anyone look after me just to be in the position I am right now. He has never really had to dig down deep like I have to pull out wins. Because of the matching and the opponents that he’s had, he has never really had to put in the effort to win because he’s never been tested or hurt. Going into this fight, I’m obviously the huge underdog. For people that haven’t seen me fight or don’t know much about me are in for a rude awakening come fight night.”
MOVING UP TWO WEIGHT CLASSES TO FIGHT CANELO
“I’m not going to deny the big jump in weight and the size difference will be obvious. Still, I have a lot of faith in my punching power. Whether I’m the skinner guy or not, I feel I can punch pretty damn good. I gotta land my punches early and let him know I’m in there for a fight ‘cause I don’t think he has ever really been hit to the point that he understands that the other person in there is in for the long-haul. It’s going to be a long day for Canelo. I’ve been working a little more on my strength and conditioning and I’m not going in there looking to match his size. I’m looking to feel strong and be comfortable and I think I’m going to surprise a lot of people.
“Really, we have no idea what I’ll weigh as long as I feel comfortable. My weight might be 148 or 152. I just don’t know: whatever feels comfortable to me. We are still adjusting to this weight, so we got big sparring partners coming in and now I feel that I’m punching that much harder. I also feel stronger right now, and I’m not worried about having to drop weight at the last minute. Not many people gave me a chance against (Victor) Ortiz so I expect for even less people to give me a chance against Canelo. I just love to shock the world and I’m going to do it again. We are putting in the work to do that again in September.”
BEING AN UNDERDOG
“This is not just a payday for me. This is a fight that I feel that I can win. I’m not going out there saying I’m going to knock him out or anything because I understand that this is going to be a very hard fight. This is going to be the hardest fight of my life, but I really do have a shot of really pulling this off. If people believe or not, the nice thing is all I need I really need is for myself to believe in it and the small group with me to believe that I can and we have that. I just have to go out there and execute come fight night.
“I love being an underdog, and I’m in a huge underdog fight, so I love that position. This is the biggest fight of my life against the biggest fighter I could possibly face at the moment. He’s a good fighter, but I wouldn’t say he is a great fighter. I can match up with him. The difference is that we can move faster and we can mix it up; when it comes time to sit-down there and bang, I think I can match him power for power. His size will play a role but with the work we are doing, we are going to use his advantages to work against him.
“I appreciate everyone. It’s all right if people don’t think I can win. It’s understandable. I’m in there for a fight and if people want to think it or believe it, it’s still going to be one hell of a fight. This is the fight of my life, really, and I have to pull it off. I know the odds are against me, but you know what? I think I’m going to surprise a lot of people. I appreciate all of the supporters and everyone who has my back. I’m grateful for everything.”