A clash of junior welterweights featuring Josesito Lopez against Jessie Vargas has been added as the first of four televised bouts in HBO Pay Per View’s split-site coverage of the Victor Ortiz-Floyd Mayweather Jr. card on Sept. 17.
Lopez (29-3, 17 knockouts) and Vargas (16-0, 9 KOs) will face off at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, followed by a clash featuring three-division titleholder Erik Morales (51-7, 35 KOs) opposite hard-punching Lucas Matthysse (28-2, 26 KOs) for the WBC’s vacant junior welterweight belt, also from the MGM Grand.
Coverage will then switch to The Staples Center in Los Angeles, where WBC junior middleweight titleholder Saul Alvarez (37-0-1, 27 KOs) will defend his belt against Alfonso Gomez (23-4-2, 12 KOs). From there, it is back to the MGM Grand, where Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs) will defend his WBC welterweight belt against the unbeaten Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs).
While fans at The Staples Center will watch the other three fights on a large screen, it will be the other way around for those at the MGM Grand, who will view Alvarez-Gomez on the big screen.
Being named to the card presents Lopez with the opportunity to thrust himself into the mix of perhaps the sport’s deepest and most talented division, one which boasts Morales, WBA “super” titleholder Amir Khan, WBA “regular” beltholder Marcos Maidana and ex-strap holder Tim Bradley.
“As any fighter in this sport, I want to face the best and prove myself worthy against the best opposition. We all dream of the big lights, the big stage. We all envision a fight against the likes of Khan, Maidana, Bradley or Morales, but we all have to pay our dues. We have to earn it to be mentioned on the same sentence,” said Lopez.
“So all I am really looking for is to climb to higher ground, to get noticed, and my immediate goal is to face and beat Jessie Vargas. A victory against him will catapult me to another plateau. Once there, I can begin to appreciate every detail of my journey, all the ups and downs of my career and personal life.”
Below are some camp notes for Lopez.
What kind of training schedule have you been keeping to prepare yourself for Jessie Vargas?
“I have been working with Herb Larkin, my strength and condition coach, on core exercises, running drills and aquatic exercises. Each day we start at 10 a.m. so that I am well rested and prepared for the intense workout.
“Also, every evening I workout with my boxing trainer Henry Ramirez. We hit mitts, spar, hit the bag. We’re putting in the work and the improvement in my conditioning is obvious. There is an absolute difference.”
What about your diet?
“It’s funny, but the truth is I cook for myself. The key is cooking healthy and keeping it simple. I notice that my body feels it’s best when I stick to chicken or fish and eat fresh vegetables.”
How does your left hand feel?
“My hand feels fine. It has healed. As soon as I suffered an injury during my last fight my trainer [Henry Ramirez] took me to the Riverside Sports Clinic to see Jim Winn and rehabilitation therapy worked well.
What is the significance of this fight against Jessie Vargas?
“I have had fights where I train hard but this is by far the fight where I am most physically prepared; not only because of my strength and conditioning program but because I was already training a month before I took this fight.
“Moreover, I am extremely motivated because it is televised on HBO Pay-Per-View and I am aware that this is a huge opportunity to showcase my skills. I deserve this opportunity because I have worked hard.
“I have been hearing what some people are saying, that Vargas is the future of the division, I’ve also heard that I am good opposition for him. But let me be clear, there is no future for Jessie without him facing his most immediate present.
“I know about stepping stones, I’ve had a few, his people and Jessie himself should be aware that I am not a pebble on his yellow brick road, I am freight train going through Vargasville.”
What are your thoughts on Jessie Vargas?
“Jessie is a good, young, talented fighter but we will see what happens after Sept. 17.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]