Photos: Luis Alberto Lopez, Michael Conlan – Ready For War in Belfast
Luis Alberto “El Venado” Lopez (27-2, 15 KOs) will make the first defense of his IBF featherweight world title against Belfast’s own Michael “Mick” Conlan (18-1, 9 KOs).
Lopez, from Mexicali, Mexico, thrilled American fight fans with his July 2020 split decision victory over Andy Vences inside the MGM Grand Bubble. Fourteen months later, he dominated then-unbeaten junior lightweight prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. Lopez then moved down to featherweight and stopped another undefeated foe, Isaac Lowe, in seven rounds at London’s York Hall. After two stay-busy wins, Lopez received his shot at the title, defeating Josh Warrington in enemy territory in Leeds, England. He now intends to defend it in Belfast.
Conlan turned pro in 2017 after a decorated Irish amateur career that included an Olympic bronze medal, and gold medals at the World Championships, European Championships, and Commonwealth Games. Last March, he nearly captured the WBA featherweight crown from Leigh Wood in Wood’s hometown of Nottingham, England. Conlan, ahead on all three scorecards, was knocked out in the 12th round. The Wood disappointment did not linger as Conlan came back later that year with victories over Miguel Marriaga and Karim Guerfi at the SSE Arena, the same venue where he intends to seize his championship moment.