Josesito Lopez will step back into the ring on Saturday night at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, opening the Spence-Porter pay-per-view broadcast. It will be familiar for him — the venue is where he stunned the boxing world back in 2012, when he broke Victor Ortiz’s jaw and pulled one of the biggest upsets of that year.
“Staples Center is a place where I really got the opportunity to make a name for myself,” Lopez said. “Ever since then, I’ve been putting it all on the line, time and time again. By having a never give up attitude, anything is possible.”
Lopez, now 35, has earned his “Riverside Rocky” nickname, not just for the stunner over Ortiz, but the hard fights in the years that have followed. Overmatched size-wise, he took Ortiz’s spot in a planned 2012 fight and gave his best effort against a young Canelo Alvarez, and he did good work in TKO losses to Marcos Maidana and Andre Berto — if he’d been more cautious, he might well have beaten both over the distance, but Lopez takes risks.
Most recently, Josesito (36-8, 19 KO) gave Keith Thurman a much tougher than anticipated fight in January, losing a majority decision.
With Molina, he’s facing a like-minded veteran, a warrior who comes to put on a show, and he’s expecting it to be one fans should want to tune in early to see.
“It’s going to be action and violence on Saturday night. I’m excited for it. I’m in this sport to be in marquee fights like this. This is going to be a fight everyone remembers.”
Molina, 36, feels the same way. Like Lopez, he’s got a reputation for good fights, including a couple come-from-behind stoppages against Hank Lundy and Mickey Bey, and an upset of Ruslan Provodnikov.
“I believe Lopez and myself are going to set the bar really high on fight night,” Molina said. “It’s an all-action fight. As a fan of the sport, I’d love to sit back and watch. We’re prepared and ready to go give everyone a great show.”
Molina (30-8, 24 KO) says the two fighters have plenty in common on paper, and that it should make for a good matchup.
“This fight has been a long time coming. We came up in this sport around the same time and I always thought he would be a great challenge,” he said. “If you want to look for someone who has a résumé close to mine, it would be Josesito.
“I’m excited because this is a challenge. I know this is no easy fight. It’s going to be spontaneous combustion. It’s instant fight, just add water.
Lopez says he’s relaxed going into the fight, while Molina admits there are some nerves, but both are saying they’re ready for the bell to ring.
“I’m really pumped up to get it on Saturday,” said Lopez. “Right now I’m just laid back and relaxing. All the hard work is done. Weigh-in next then we’re ready to head into Saturday.”
“The butterflies are starting to kick in and that means I’m ready to go now,” Molina said. “The hard work is done, the weight is good, and we’re ready to go to work.”
Molina says the two have sparred once before.
“We sparred back in the day but the only thing I’ll say is, that if that session is what you’ll see on Saturday, you’re going to really enjoy it,” he said.
Lopez says he’s added more to his arsenal that he’s looking to show on Saturday night.
“I’ve been known for my left hook but I think I’ve made a lot of improvements in how I throw my right hand,” he said. “It’s going to be a lethal combo.”