by Geoffrey Ciani – In between rounds eight and nine of the Victor Ortiz versus Josesito Lopez broadcast, the Showtime cameras cut to a close-up of Canelo Alvarez. The expression on his face told the whole story. It was a familiar expression that reminded me of the way Felix Trinidad looked at about the same point in the contest when he was in attendance for the first fight between Shane Mosley and Winky Wright. A mega-bout showdown between Trinidad and Mosley was all but a done deal. It was inevitable. Mosley only needed to get by Wright. Winky, however, had other plans and successfully played the role of the spoiler. Trinidad had to look elsewhere, and instead wound up facing Ricardo Mayorga. In the case of Canelo, now that Lopez has killed the appeal of an Alvarez-Ortiz matchup, the young Mexican will now be forced to look elsewhere, too.
It was an explosive, action-packed double-header on Showtime! Prior to the start of the first bout, commentator Al Bernstein noted that the Lucas Matthysse versus Humberto Soto fight could wind up being a “fight of the year” type of encounter—and that is exactly what we got! Soto was the busier guy in the first two rounds and got himself off to an early lead with some great combination punching, as Matthysse had his typically slow start. Just after the bell to end the second, Lucas landed a big shot that actually dropped Soto in what may have been an official knockdown had it happened a split second earlier. Lucas carried that momentum into the third and fourth rounds, which were highlighted by terrific exchanges, punches in bunches, grueling body shots, and a lot of heart and determination on display from both combatants. Whenever one of them did something impressive, the other almost always fired back with something meaningful of his own. It was the textbook definition of a “crowd-pleaser”.
Round five saw more of the same, with some seriously heated exchanges where both boxers were being aggressive and putting together some fierce combinations. Soto actually appeared to be doing the better work in spots, but Matthysse was just stronger and he rocked Humberto early with a menacing left hook. As the round was nearing its conclusion, Matthysse landed a big right hand, followed by a left-right, and then another right for good measure as Soto was stumbling back towards the ropes. Soto crashed to the canvas and was visibly shaken, hurt, and disoriented. He managed to get on his feet and returned to his corner where they promptly stopped the fight. It seemed like a very wise decision on their part given Lucas’ raw power and Soto’s dazed state.
The main event was an equally intense affair. Ortiz versus Lopez started off as a tactical clash with each guy trying to find his range and rhythm behind the jab. Both fighters were fairly active, and the stanza had some good exchanges. Lopez capped off the round with a big right. The next round was back and forth. Ortiz landed a nice combo that hurt Lopez, and later he fired back with a nice right that stunned Ortiz. This type of back and forth action continued over the next couple of rounds. In the fifth, Ortiz hit Lopez on the back of the head, and it appeared it may have been deliberate. The commentators shook this off as a glancing blow, but it was a thudding shot that crashed directly to the back of the skull. Lopez was given time to recover, and when the action resumed, he had a greater overall intensity.
Lopez dragged Ortiz into deep waters, as an explosion of big punches were being traded and absorbed by both fighters. It was becoming the type of fight that Ortiz had against Maidana. It was a battle of attrition, and Lopez ultimately proved to be the more determined of the two, and Ortiz actually chose to retire on his stool at the conclusion of round nine. Boxing is a very difficult and unforgiving sport, and Ortiz was already plagued by fans with the “quitter” label since he chose not to continue against Maidana. Ironically, this is also the second fight in a row where Ortiz seemed to embolden his opponent after fouling him. But it was a tremendous upset victory for Lopez who endured a great deal of punishment in his brave winning effort. His never quit attitude enabled him to persevere and overcome.
The Showtime double-header featured two extremely entertaining contests and provided no controversy. What a pleasant surprise and a refreshing relief!
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