LAS VEGAS – Now that Teofimo Lopez’s return to the ring has been pushed back into early 2024, Bob Arum’s promotional company has made accompanying adjustments to its upcoming schedule of fights on ESPN.
BoxingScene.com has learned that Top Rank’s December 9 show on the cable sports network will now feature Robeisy Ramirez in the main event of a three-bout broadcast from an undetermined venue, probably somewhere in Florida. The Cuban-born, Las Vegas-based Ramirez (13-1, 8 KOs) is still likely to defend his WBO featherweight title in that 12-round main event against Mexico’s Rafael Espinoza (21-0, 18 KOs).
The December 9 tripleheader also will feature lightweight prospect Keyshawn Davis (9-0, 6 KOs) and junior middleweight contender Xander Zayas (17-0, 11 KOs). Opponents for their televised fights weren’t secured when this story was posted Friday.
Ramirez-Espinoza was initially slated to headline a show ESPN+ will stream November 4 from Tahoe Blue Event Center in Stateline, Nevada. Earlier Friday, however, Top Rank announced that Nigerian heavyweight contender Efe Aja (18-1, 13 KOs) will square off against Australia’s Joe Goodall (10-1-1, 9 KOs) in its new November 4 main event.
Arum informed BoxingScene.com later Friday that Lopez won’t fight again until sometime in the first quarter of 2024. Top Rank’s initial plan was for Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs) to make his first defense of the WBO junior welterweight title he won recently from Josh Taylor (18-1, 13 KOs) on December 9 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Brooklyn native easily upset Scotland’s Taylor by unanimous decision June 10 at The Theater to become a two-weight world champion.
Top Rank usually schedules a show to air after ESPN’s presentation of the Heisman Trophy ceremony on the second Saturday night of each December, either at Madison Square Garden or The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Arum’s company will take its December 9 show elsewhere, however, because Ramirez, while very talented, isn’t the type of box-office draw who can headline a show at The Garden.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.