Josh Warrington is set to add yet another stiff challenge to his underrated resume.
The two-time and reigning IBF featherweight titlist returns home for a dangerous mandatory title defense versus Mexicali’s Luis Alberto Lopez. Both boxers were well under the divisional limit for their scheduled twelve-round clash at First Direct Arena in Warrington’s hometown of Leeds, England. (Saturday, DAZN, 9:00 p.m. GMT/4:00 p.m. ET).
Warrington roared to his adoring crowd as he registered at a ripped and lean 125.3 pounds. The 32-year-old was slightly lighter on Friday than his still fighting fit weight of 125.7 pounds when he regained the title in a seventh-round knockout of Kiko Martinez on March 26 in this very venue.
The win put Warrington back near the top of the division after having previously vacated his IBF title in 2021 following three successful defenses.
Lopez was a trim and fit 124.3 pounds, his lightest weight in more than six years ahead of his first major title challenge and second career fight outside of North America. His lone trip abroad positioned him for a shot at the IBF crown, annihilating unbeaten Isaac Lowe inside of seven rounds last December 3 at the famed York Hall in Bethnal Green.
The 29-year-old top-rated contender has since added a pair of knockout wins in 2022, running his win streak to nine in a row heading into this weekend. Lopez enters as a very live underdog, having been bet all the way down to +100 according to bet365.
Warrington is currently -138 according to the same sportsbook.
The evening’s co-feature pits an all-Aussie grudge match between IBF bantamweight titlist Ebanie Bridges (8-1, 3KOs) of New South Wales and Queensland’s Shannon O’Connell (23-6-1, 11KOs) in a scheduled ten-round contest.
Bridges was 117 ¾ pounds for the first defense of the IBF title she won in a ten-round, unanimous decision over Maria Cecilia Roman on the March 26 Warrington-Martinez undercard,
O’Connell was 117.35 for fourth career title challenge in as many weight classes. The 39-year-old veteran contender came up short in title bids at—in order—featherweight, junior lightweight and junior featherweight, though she carries an eight-fight win streak into the ring.
Below are the weights for the rest of the undercard.
Felix Cash (15-0, 10KOs), Wokingham, Berkshire, 166 pounds vs. Celso Neves (9-2-2, 2KOs), Basel, Switzerland via Portugal, 166.2 pounds—8 rounds, super middleweight
James ‘JJ’ Metcalf (23-2, 14KOs), Liverpool, 153.6 pounds vs. Courtney Pennington (16-5-3, 7KOs), Brooklyn, New York, 153.1 pounds—10 rounds, junior middleweight
Koby McNamara (3-0, 0KOs), Leeds, 120.1 pounds vs. Nabil Ahmed (1-12-0KOs), Batley, Yorkshire, 120.3 pounds—rounds, bantamweight
Shannon Courtenay (7-2, 3KOs), Watford, Hertfordshire, 124.7 pounds vs. Gemma Ruegg (5-5, 1KO), Bournemouth, Dorset, 124.8 pounds—8 rounds, bantamweight
Cory O’Regan (8-0, 0KOs), Leeds, 137.8 pounds vs. Antonio Rodriguez (7-27-8, 1KOs), Madrid, Spain, 136.7 pounds—6 rounds, lightweight
Hopey Price (8-0, 3KOs), Leeds, 123.2 pounds vs. Jonathan Santana (9-3-1, 1KOs), Las Palmas, Spain, 123.8 pounds—8 rounds, junior featherweight
Junaid Bostan (3-0, 3KOs), Rotherham, Yorkshire, 155.9 pounds vs. Athanasios Glynos (2-1, 1KO), Athens, Greece, 155.8 pounds—6 rounds, junior middleweight
Rhiannon Dixon (6-0, 0KOs), Warrington, Cheshire, 134.8 pounds vs. Kristine Shergold (7-6-1, 1KO), Exeter, Devon, 133 pounds—8 rounds, lightweight
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox