Lopez stops Victor Ortiz in stunning upset

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Josesito Lopez climbed onto the ropes and regarded the shocked fans through swollen eyes. Raising his gloves and stretching his arms wide, he greeted their boisterous cheers with one long, joyous shrug.

Even if he couldn't quite believe it, Lopez knew how to celebrate one of the biggest upsets in recent boxing history.

Lopez stopped star Victor Ortiz after nine rounds Saturday night, apparently breaking Ortiz's jaw to end a stunning victory for an unheralded welterweight from nearby Riverside.

After trading damaging shots and momentum swings throughout a closer-than-expected bout, Ortiz stayed on his stool before the 10th round could begin, his corner stopping the fight when the injury left Ortiz unable to close his mouth. An instant later, Lopez (30-4, 18 KOs) and his retinue of trainers and promoters turned the ring into a joyous mosh pit.

"I knew I had to fight the fight of my life to win," said Lopez, who has never fought for a world title. "I knew the longer it went, the better chance I'd have. He hits hard, but I was never going to quit. I knew it was a close fight on the scorecards, and I knew I could press him more and more if I continued. He's like a tree. I had to chop him down."

Lopez accepted the fight last month as a late replacement for Andre Berto, whose failed doping test scuttled the eagerly anticipated rematch of Ortiz's unanimous decision over Berto in a tumultuous bout in April 2011.

Ortiz (29-4-2) was narrowly leading on all three judges' scorecards when he quit, but the former welterweight champion didn't dominate as expected in his first bout since getting stopped by Floyd Mayweather Jr. last September.

Although Ortiz repeatedly tagged Lopez with shots throughout the bout, producing swelling around both of Lopez's eyes, Lopez repeatedly replied with big shots of his own - and he even taunted Ortiz with come-at-me gestures that thrilled the crowd.

"I'm a man, and I'm not intimidated by anything," Lopez said. "I have a big heart. He tried to intimidate me, but it didn't work. Victor has no heart."

Argentina's Lucas Matthysse also stopped Mexico's Humberto Soto after five rounds with a barrage of punches at the bell in a thrilling 140-pound fight on the undercard.

Ortiz was so confident of a victory over Lopez that he already agreed to his next fight: a showdown in Las Vegas in September with Mexican star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, who watched this bout from ringside.

The Ortiz-Alvarez fight is now off, and Lopez will be among the contenders for that title shot. Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer, who said he was glad Ortiz quit to avoid devastating injury, expects to announce Alvarez's new opponent next week.

"What a courageous fighter," Schaefer said of Lopez. "We know how hard Victor hits, one of the hardest punchers in the business, and the way Josesito took those punches is absolutely amazing. I have hardly ever seen a fighter with that kind of heart. That's boxing. That's why we love it."

The upset is an enormous setback for Ortiz, who hadn't been in the ring since Mayweather flattened him when Ortiz dropped his guard and attempted to hug the unbeaten pound-for-pound champion after a head-butt. Ortiz thinks he hurt his jaw in the fifth round, but wasn't certain.

"Josesito busted my jaw," Ortiz said. "I had my mouth open, and he broke my jaw. I couldn't close my mouth."

Ortiz showcased his superior skill and power from the opening round, repeatedly putting Lopez on the retreat. Yet Lopez constantly found ways to respond, either through counterpunching or his own strong shots to Ortiz, who has never been a defensive technician.

Lopez used his longer reach to pick at Ortiz, who occasionally showed frustration in a clinch. Ortiz also hit Lopez with a rabbit punch in the back of the head, earning a caution from the referee and the jeers of fans.

Ortiz and Lopez traded shots throughout the eighth and ninth rounds. Ortiz wasn't obviously hurt in the ring, but didn't answer the bell for the 10th round.

Ortiz was disappointed to lose his lucrative rematch with Berto, but claimed he wouldn't take Lopez lightly. And Lopez certainly didn't behave like a substitute opponent, reveling a spate of pre-fight publicity that included throwing out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium.

Lopez also added some spice to a previously civil promotion Friday when he pressed his head into Ortiz's head when the fighters faced off for photographs after the weigh-in, leading to harsh words and forcing promoter Oscar De La Hoya to step between them.

Earlier, Matthysse (31-2, 29 KOs) put on an impressive display of punching power and tenacity against Soto (59-8-2), a three-time champion. He also didn't allow the fight to be decided by American judges after losing debatable decisions against hometown fighters Zab Judah and Devon Alexander earlier in his career.

After Soto looked strong in the first two rounds, Matthysse began picking apart Soto's defense with left hooks and body shots. Matthysse then closed the fight in dramatic fashion late in the fifth, landing a right-left-right combo that staggered Soto several steps back into the ropes.

Matthysse closed the distance and decked Soto with a straight right hand right before the bell rang, depositing Soto on the canvas in a heap. Soto beat the count and wobbled back to his stool, but the veteran's corner stopped the fight.

Matthysse celebrated on his cornermen's shoulders, draping an Argentine flag around his neck.

"I felt his punches, but he could never hurt me," Matthysse said. "I was so well prepared, and honestly, tonight was my night because I threw the best punches."

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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