Victor Ortiz celebrates after defeating Vivian Harris in 2010. (Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty…)
The promoter for Riverside welterweight Josesito Lopez said Monday that the boxer has verbally agreed to replace Andre Berto and fight former world welterweight champion Victor Ortiz of Oxnard on June 23 at Staples Center.
Lopez (29-4, 17 knockouts) last fought in September, dropping a questionable split-decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. protege Jessie Vargas on the undercard of Mayweather's knockout victory over Ortiz.
Lopez is a tough, smart boxer "who knows how to use the lost art of digging that left hook to the body," according to promoter Dan Goossen.
Lopez will withdraw from a scheduled June 22 bout against Kendall Holt at Soboba Casino in Hemet to take the fight, which was made available when world welterweight champion Berto tested positive for the steroid nandrolone. The test result was announced Friday by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Assn.
Berto was said to be interested in appealing his test result to the California State Athletic Commission, but his promoter, Lou DiBella, said Monday that he was unsure where that request stood. DiBella added that he hadn't been officially informed Berto was out of the June 23 card.
"No one told me," DiBella said. "I read on the Internet Ortiz could be fighting Josesito Lopez."
Goossen said Lopez was thrilled not only by the opportunity to fight a main event at Staples Center, but by the payday he's getting, which Goossen did not disclose.
"He's capable of winning this fight," Goossen said. "You've got two California kids in a California venue. One guy's a former world champ. The other wants to be one. It has all the ingredients of a great fight."
Ortiz is clearly the favorite, but Goossen said the disappointment of losing two chances for an anticipated Berto rematch and the fact that Ortiz was knocked out in his last fight, "could be three strikes, with Josesito making sure he's out this time."
Ortiz defeated Berto by decision in 2011, in a fight in which both men were knocked down.
"Timing is everything, and this is great timing for Josesito," Goossen said.
The Staples Center card will also include Riverside heavyweight Cris Arreola, Goossen said, in a fight against an unannounced opponent that is expected to serve as a warm-up bout for a fall date against Wladimir Klitschko.
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Promoter: Riverside's Josesito Lopez accepts Victor Ortiz fight