A chance to return to prominence is on the line for both Andre Berto and Josesito Lopez as the welterweights headline Friday night’s debut of “Premier Boxing Champions” at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California.
Created by boxing adviser and manager Al Haymon, the new series was also supposed to feature Shawn Porter and Roberto Garcia as the opening bout, but the latter reportedly failed to show up for Thursday’s weigh-in and press conference and was scratched. Instead, Erick Bone will step in and face Porter in a 12-round matchup.
Garcia was reportedly overweight, and simply did not show up, according to ESPN.
"It was more than 4 pounds. That is what I was told by the promoter," California State Athletic commission executive officer Andy Foster said to ESPN. "I was told that he had to cut too much weight and he couldn't do it."
A 30-year-old California native, Lopez shot to fame after upsetting Victor Ortiz back in 2012, a bout Berto was forced to pull out of after failing a drug test. But Lopez’s subsequent losses in major bouts to Canelo Alvarez and Marcos Maidana dropped him from the big time. Since then, Lopez (33-6, 19 KOs) has won his last three fights, two decisions and a technical knockout of American Aaron Martinez in the fifth round.
Berto (29-3, 22 KOs) is in a similar boat. Back in 2011 he suffered his first defeat and lost the WBC welterweight crown at the hands of Ortiz via a 12-round decision, and would lose two of his next three fights, including a TKO in the 12th round to Mexico’s Jesus Soto Karass.
But Berto bounced back with a 10-round decision over Steve Upsher Chambers in September and looks to use this bout as a springboard back into the upper echelon of the sport.
The 31-year-old Berto admits the climb back has been exhausting.
"I didn't think I was going to be able to be in this position to fight anymore," Berto said according to the Los Angeles Times. "It was just so taxing on me."
Porter (24-1-1, 15 KOs) too is hoping to regain some luster after enduring a loss for the first time in his 25-fight career. The 27-year-old fell to Great Britain’s Kell Brook via a 12-round decision back in August and lost his grip on the IBF welterweight crown in the process.
Bone (16-1, 8 KOs) has claimed his last four fights, three unanimous decisions and one TKO, after the only letdown of his career to Alberto Mosquero back in October 2013.
Tale of the Tape
Record: 29-3 (22 KOs)
Weight: 147 lbs.
Reach: 68.5 inches
Record: 33-6 (19 KOs)
Weight: 147 lbs.
Reach: 69 inches
Start Time: The bouts are scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Spike will broadcast the fights, and find what channel the network is on for your cable or satellite provider here
Betting Odds: Berto -230
Prediction: Lopez over Berto in a majority decision