By Craig Daly: Michael Conlan will be challenging IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez on May 27th at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Ireland.
What’s interesting about this fight is the IBF champion Luis Lopez (27-2, 15 KOs) will be going on the road again despite being the champ in this match to battle the 31-year-old Irish native Conlan on his home turf in Belfast.
In the 29-year-old Mexican warrior Lopez’s last fight, he marched into Leeds, England, and defeated the hometown fighter Josh Warrington by a foul-plagued 12 round majority decision last December at the First Direct Arena.
For Lopez to be going on the road again, but this time as the champion, it’s a little disappointing. That suggests that Lopez isn’t a big enough star yet for big money to be there in Mexico so that he could defend his IBF 126-lb belt in front of his fans.
Hopefully, the referee does a better job of policing fouls than the one that worked Lopez’s fight in Leeds against Warrington. There was a lot of head-butting and rabbit punching from Warrington.
At one point, Warrington hit Lopez in the backside with a punch, which seemed to hurt him more than the slew of rabbit shots and head-butts.
The two-time Irish Olympian Conlan (18-1, 9 KOs) is getting another title shot after being knocked out in the 11th round in a bid to capture the WBA 126-lb title last March against Leigh Wood in Nottingham, England.
“May 27 is the date for a potential showdown with reigning IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez at the SSE Arena,” per Belfastlive.
Since Conlan’s knockout loss to Leigh Wood last March, he’s won his last two fights, beating Miguel Marriaga and Karim Guerfi. Conlan had a busy year in 2022, fighting three times and doing an excellent job of returning from his defeat against Wood in Nottingham.
It will be a tough match-up for the 31-year-old Conlan due to Lopez’s awkwardness and punching power. As we saw in Lopez’s fight with Warrington, he throws punches from all angles, and he’s particularly dangerous through the first half of his fights.
If Conlan can avoid getting hurt in the early going, he has a good shot of rallying in the second half to get the win. Lopez doesn’t seem to like pressure, and he acts helpless when roughed up, constantly looking at the referee for assistance rather than toughing it out or returning the favor.
Besides his victory over Warrington, Lopez has victories over Isaac Lowe, Gabriel Flores Jr, and Andy Vences. Lopez’s losses have come against Ruben Villa and Abraham Montoya.