IBF featherweight world champion Luis Alberto “El Venado” Lopez is gearing up to make the first defense of his crown.
The 29-year-old will face Michael “Mick” Conlan Saturday, May 27, at The SSE Arena in Conlan’s hometown of Belfast.
Lopez-Conlan and undercard bouts will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+ in the United States. BT Sport will broadcast the event in the UK and Ireland.
Lopez (27-2, 15 KOs), from Mexicali, Mexico, navigated bumpy terrain to become a world champion. Despite losing early in his career to Abraham Montoya and Ruben Villa, he regained his momentum with victories over unbeaten standouts Gabriel Flores Jr. and Isaac Lowe. After two stay-busy wins, Lopez received his shot at the title, defeating Josh Warrington in enemy territory in Leeds, England.
Now under the tutelage of Kay Koroma, he is preparing in Las Vegas to make his first title defense. Conlan (18-1, 9 KOs), a 31-year-old Olympic bronze medalist from Belfast, made an unsuccessful bid for the WBA featherweight title against Leigh Wood in March 2022 but bounced back later that year with wins over Miguel Marriaga and Karim Guerfi. Less than six months after his first-round knockout against Guerfi, he will return to The SSE Arena for the third straight time.
Following a recent training session, this is what Lopez had to say:
“I’m excited to have given both my country and my family a world champion. It’s not every day that you get a new world champion in my hometown of Mexicali, Mexico. It had been 27 years since my city last had a world champion. So, I’m happy to have been able to do that.”
“We’re making a strong finish to camp. We’re working with Kay Koroma at DLX Boxing in Las Vegas. We’re making big changes. We know I have speed. We know I have power. But now we’re working on sitting down more on my punches and on using my distance.”
“This is going to be a great fight. He’s an Olympian. He knows how to stick and move. It’s going to be a difficult fight. But my preparation has been excellent. This has been the best training camp of my entire career. And as soon as he starts planting his feet a bit, the fight will end very quickly.”
“It wouldn’t be smart for him to try to brawl with me. So, I expect him to come out and box. But I have the speed and strength to cut the ring and find him. I will knock Michael Conlan out!"
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