By David A. Avila
L.A.’s calling and Riverside is answering the request.
It looked bleak for Riverside’s Josesito Lopez when a welterweight fight of national importance fell apart. Then, one phone later, everything changed and an even bigger fight looms for not just Lopez, but stable mate Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola too.
“Good things happen in bunches,” said Dan Goossen, president of Goossen-Tutor Promotions.
Lopez (29-4, 17 KOs) moves up a weight division and steps in to fight former welterweight world champion Victor Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) in the main event on June 23, at the Staples Center and fellow Riverside boxer Arreola will also compete. The Goossen-Tutor and Golden Boy Promotions fight card is now intact.
The lanky welterweight Lopez was supposed to fight former world champion Kendall Holt in Soboba Casino, but the New Jersey prizefighter pulled out of that match and left the promoters searching for an answer. It came on Monday.
“Holt caused a bad situation to rise and we were fortunate to rebound from it. At least Josesito was able to rebound from it,” said Goossen who co-promotes Lopez along with Thompson Boxing Promotions.
Lopez will be filling in for Andre Berto who tested positive for performance enhancement drugs last week. Berto’s rematch with Ortiz was once again canceled. Earlier, the Florida-based boxer suffered a torn bicep and forced to pull out of a fight a few months ago.
“The fight with Ortiz was brought up to me originally on Thursday, or so. I always thought I would one day be fighting him,” said Lopez, 27, whose scuttled fight with Holt was supposed to be at 140 pound junior welterweight division. “I did plan on moving up to 147 some time in the future but I guess it’s now.”
Lopez had been preparing for a month to fight the former junior welterweight world champion Holt, a right-handed boxer who lost the title to Timothy Bradley three years ago. Now Lopez must change gears and prepare to fight a southpaw.
Trainer Henry Ramirez, who works with both Lopez and Arreola, knows that it’s going to be a little tricky but relishes both of his fighters opportunities.
“This changes our approach drastically. He’s going to have to be in shape whether it’s Victor Ortiz or Kendall Holt. We’re in that process now,” said Ramirez who also manages Lopez. “Maybe Victor is a little bit bigger. But the fight with Holt was just an eliminator. The fight with Ortiz is a main event at the Staples Center. It’s a big fight.”
Also boosting the fight card will be heavyweight contender Arreola eager to return to the Staples Center and seek a little redemption for his last appearance at the Los Angeles sports venue when he lost to Vitali Klitschko in 2009.
“It’s an honor to fight at Staples again. It’s a beautiful arena and of course it’s like my home. I was born and raised in LA that’s my backyard, I go to LA as much as I can,” says Arreola (35-2, 30 KOs). “The last time I was there it didn’t go well. I am going to redeem myself.”
Promoters said they are seeking a suitable opponent for Arreola who has also been promised a shot at world champion Wladimir Klitschko in November or December. Arreola refuses to play it safe and wait for the Klitschko fight.
“No reason to wait. I hate waiting. Just keep me busy. I just want to keep my business in the gym,” Arreola, 31, said. “That’s the main thing. All I have to do is keep winning. And not by decisions. I hate decisions. I like to give the fans what they want and that’s a knockout.”
Lopez and Arreola are excited to bring their brand of fighting to Los Angeles.
“If the Lakers don’t pull it off then maybe we can bring them something to cheer about,” says Arreola.
“Riverside fans always come and support us,” said Lopez. “We’re always exciting to watch.”
Ironically, Goossen-Tutor Promotions has another loaded fight card on the same day and almost the same time 15 miles away in nearby Studio City, Calif. at the Sportsmans Lodge. Former world champion Rico Ramos (20-1, 11 KOs) is set to meet Colombia’s Jhonatan Romero (21-0, 12 KOs) who recently fought in Ontario.
“I’m going to be there live at the (Sportsmans) lodge show and head down to Staples and catch Josesito’s fight,” said Goossen. “Maybe I can borrow a helicopter.”