By Alex Caveda at ringside: Although the year is just half over, 2012 has seen boxing suffer from a series of outrageous decisions rendered by judges in major contests. Tonight at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, veteran Josesito Lopez, along with rising star Lucas Matthysse took things into their own hands, with both winning by technical knockout. The results were satisfactory, and fight fans walked away the big winner.
It is no secret that the decision in the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight earlier this month was widely regarded as a travesty. It is also no secret that both Josesito Lopez, and Lucas Matthysse have been on the wrong end of bad decisions. Tonight both Lopez, and Matthyse came out slugging, eliminating potential controversy along the way. In the main event Lopez pulled off what might be the upset of the year, in a candidate for fight of the year, as he halted former welterweight champion Victor Ortiz at the end of nine rounds. Just last September Ortiz was regarded as one of the best in the sport. But here he was looking to rebound from his recent defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last September. Originally Ortiz was supposed to battle fellow former welterweight champ Andre Berto in a rematch. Last year Ortiz defeated Berto in a sensational slugfest. However, Berto pulled out of the proposed rematch. Enter the underrated Josesito Lopez. In recent years the only "losses" on Lopez’ record were controversial split, or majority decisions in the backyard of his opponent. Ironically Lopez had lost a hotly disputed verdict to prospect Jesse Vargas in Las Vegas the same night that Ortiz had battled Mayweather. Coming into this fight Lopez was a definite underdog due to the recent defeat, but a closer inspection of his record shows that Lopez was one live underdog.
Looking to re-establish himself as an elite fighter, Ortiz started quickly against Lopez. Initially Ortiz appeared to be too strong for Lopez, but one thing was apparent as the rounds went by... Lopez was not giving up. Through two rounds Ortiz landed all of the significant blows, but Lopez was in there swinging back all the way. Late in round 3 Lopez appeared to rock Ortiz slightly, and at that point it was clear that the public was witnessing a real fight. Things just got better as the slugging intensified, with Ortiz again the stronger boxer, but Lopez bravely refusing to give an inch. In round 5 controversy almost reared it’s ugly head when Ortiz blatantly fouled Lopez with a punch behind the head. Although there seemed to be no reason for the foul (given that Ortiz was winning at this point), it was perhaps a sign that Ortiz was growing desperate in a fight that was much harder than expected. After the foul Lopez sunk to his knees, and referee Jack Reiss called time. After a slight delay the action resumed with Ortiz jumping right on Lopez. Once more however, Ortiz was met with hard counter punches, as it was clear that Lopez wasn’t going anywhere. Later in the round Ortiz shoved Lopez down. The roughhousing did not discourage Lopez, as he seemed to actually get more motivated. The rabbit punching fro Ortiz continued, but Lopez’ momentum wasn’t being stopped.
The tide seemed to really turn in Lopez’ favor during the seventb round when Lopez stunned Ortiz with two uppercuts. Later in the round Ortiz attacked Lopez hard only to be met with a solid Lopez combination. The exchanges were furious, and the crowd was going wild. Initially Lopez had been booed by the pro-Ortiz audience, but by this point Lopez was winning the fans over. By the 8th round Lopez had swelling under his eye, and a bloody nose. However it was Lopes on the attack, as he had the momentum going his way, and he knew it! For the first time in the match Ortiz began to give ground every time Lopez moved in. Ironically the ninth round began as perhaps the quietest of the bout. Then, with about 30 seconds to go Ortiz attacked, but Lopez fired back, clearly getting the better of the exchange. In the final seconds Ortiz was rocked badly by a Lopez combination that landed squarely on his face. Although Lopez was coming on, it came as a shock when Ortiz announced he would fight no more seconds after the bell sounded ending the 9th round. Because Ortiz had quit once before in a major fight, the audience seemed to turn on him. The same fans that moments ago were cheering him, were now booing Ortiz. Chants of "Pendejo" could be heard in the audience, which is Spanish for "Idiot". However, Ortiz most likely had a very real reason for not continuing, as his jaw was reportedly broken during a ninth round exchange. There was a lot of blood in Ortiz’ mouth after the round, a sign of the injury, and immediately after the fight ended Ortiz was rushed to the hospital for treatment. At the time of the stoppage Secondsout had it 96-95 for Lopez, as it was clearly a close fight with Lopez coming on. Oddly two of the three judges had Ortiz comfortably ahead when the end came.
Whether or not fans give Ortiz another chance as a major main event draw remains to be seen. If Ortiz has one thing on his side it’s that he was once again involved in a classic slugfest, one that will not soon be forgotten. For Lopez it was a dream come true, as this perennially underestimated slugger proved he was for real. Reportedly Ortiz had already been scheduled to meet fast rising Mexican star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in September, but with the loss (along with the jaw injury), that fight goes out the window for now. Afterwards Ortiz’ promoter Oscar De La Hoya said that he was not disappointed with the fight because the "fans were the ones that won tonight". By putting on a good show, both De La Hoya’s "Golden Boy Promotions", and Showtime (which televised the action) will likely keep fight fans eager for the next show.
The Lopez win wasn’t the only feel good story of the night. Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse is regarded as one of the best young boxers in the game, but also perhaps the most unlucky boxer in the world. After scoring knockouts in almost all of his early fights Matthysse was brought to America to battle former champion Zab Judah. In what looked like a breakthrough performance, Matthysse floored Judah, dominated the later rounds, and apparently won. But the controversial decision went to Judah, as Matthysse was robbed. Things just got worse the next time Matthysse came to America. Next, Matthysse went to the hometown of another former champion Devon Alexander. Once again Matthysse seemed to defeat one of the best in the game as he dominated Alexander for most of the fight, only to get robbed a second time in another seemingly bogus decision. For his third fight in America Matthysse again faced one of the best in veteran former champion Humberto "Zorita" Soto. Although tonight’s card was in Los Angeles, the Mexican born Soto had the largely Mexican-American audience behind him, as it was clear Matthysse was once again in enemy territory. This time though, Matthysse did not give the judges a chance to rip him off.