As a late substitute opponent facing Victor Ortiz in 2012, welterweight Josesito Lopez of Riverside, Calif., was largely unknown and a major underdog. Nine rounds later, Lopez had badly broken Ortiz's jaw, stopped him and emerged as "The Riverside Rocky" thanks to the big upset.
He parlayed the victory into a junior middleweight title fight for a career payday against Canelo Alvarez three months later. But Lopez was much smaller than Alvarez and got blown away in five lopsided rounds. When Lopez returned to welterweight, he got knocked out again in his next fight, going down in six rounds to slugger Marcos Maidana last June.
Lopez (31-6, 18 KOs) righted the ship in December, winning an eight-round technical decision against one-time junior welterweight contender Mike Arnaoutis. Lopez will look to notch a second win in a row when he faces Aron Martinez (19-2-1, 4 KOs) of East Los Angeles on April 24 (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET) in a 10-rounder at the Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif., promoter Dan Goossen announced this week.
The fight headlines a special Thursday edition of "Friday Night Fights."
"This is Josesito's opportunity to put himself right back into the mix of one of the hottest divisions in boxing today," Goossen said. "Quite frankly, Martinez knows the same thing. What's at stake here is someone's career, which will bring out the very best from both fighters in what will be terrific for the Southern California boxing fans and those watching the ESPN telecast."
The 10-round co-feature will pit light heavyweight Thomas Williams Jr. (16-0, 11 KOs) of Fort Washington, Md., against Mexican veteran Enrique Ornelas (34-8, 22 KOs) of La Habra, Calif., who has lost to Bernard Hopkins, Beibut Shumenov, Robert Stieglitz, Sam Soliman and Marco Antonio Rubio.