Canelo Alvarez faces off with Josesito Lopez after their weigh-in for Saturday's… (Julie Jacobson / Associated…)
LAS VEGAS — On a big fight night in the biggest fight city, Mexican star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez will get a portion of the spotlight Saturday when he takes on newcomer Josesito Lopez of Riverside.
They will fight for a title belt at 154 pounds in the main event at the MGM Grand Garden. A mile or so down the road, at Thomas & Mack Center, another major fight card will take place and be headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. against Sergio Martinez, fighting for a middleweight title belt.
Dueling promoters Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy and Bob Arum of Top Rank, who won't be seen having dinner together a lot these days, have made attendance predictions that, if fulfilled, would put as many as 35,000 in seats for the two fights. Schaefer has said that he may need to add bleachers to the MGM Grand layout that would bring his ticket sales to 16,000. Arum has said he is closing in on 19,000 tickets sold at Thomas & Mack.
Alvarez, notable for red hair, freckles and a calm, cool punching style, has a 40-0-1 record, with 29 knockouts. He is Golden Boy's golden boy, now that company President Oscar De La Hoya is retired.
Lopez has come out of nowhere to get his shot. He fought heavily favored Victor Oritz three months ago as a fill-in boxer after several withdrawals and stunned the experts by breaking Ortiz's jaw and winning the fight. He enters with a 30-4 record, including 18 knockouts.
Alvarez is the heavy favorite, and were he to lose, Golden Boy's plans for the future would be severely disrupted. Alvarez gave a hint at exactly what those plans might be when he said at a news conference Thursday that he was honored to be on the same stage at the MGM Grand where other great fighters, "like Floyd Mayweather," had preceded him.
Alvarez said he understands that Lopez "throws a lot of punches and good combinations." But he said he will counter that "by making use of my experience."
Lopez's trainer, Henry Ramirez, said his fighter will "push the action."
"Canelo is very deliberate," Ramirez said, "and we have to make him uncomfortable right away."
The MGM Grand card will include three other fights for title belts: Leo Santa Cruz versus Eric Morel at 118 pounds; Marcos Maidana versus Jesus Soto Karass at 147 and Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Daniel Ponce De Leon at 126.