By Jim Calfa: Luis Alberto Lopez (27-2, 15 KOs) weighed 125.5 lbs, and challenger Michael Conlan (18-1, 9 KOs) weighed 125.9 lbs on Friday at the weigh-in for their bout this Saturday, May 27th, at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The event will be shown on ESPN+ at 1:30 P.M. ET/10:30 a.m. PT.
Conlan, 31, is being given another title shot after losing last year in a bid to capture the WBA belt against Leigh Wood. If Conlan loses it on Saturday, it’s unlikely that he’ll get another opportunity anytime soon.
After losing to Wood, Conlan hasn’t done anything to deserve another crack at a world belt, but he’s arguably getting this title shot based on his popularity back at home in Belfast.
This is a tough one for the two-time Olympian Conaln because he facing a much faster and more powerful 29-year-old Lopez, who will be looking to take his head off.
- Luis Alberto Lopez 125.5 vs. Michael Conlan 125.9
- Nick Ball 125.9 vs. Ludumo Lamatii 125.5
- Anthony Cacace 129.9 vs. Damian Wrzesinski 129.4
- Pierce O’Leary 139.3 vs. Alin Florin Ciorcerii 140
Luis Alberto Lopez efficiently handled Josh Warrington for the first seven rounds last December in Leeds, but he lost his composure when roughed up.
Warrington used every foul in the book to throw Lopez off his game, but he just barely did enough to edge a 12 round majority decision.
With a better referee working the fight, Warrington would have been penalized multiple times and perhaps even disqualified for the rabbit punches, head-butts, elbowing, hitting below the belt, and shoving that he did against Lopez on the night.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Conlan follows the blueprint created by Warrington to unsettle Lopez by fouling him nonstop on Saturday. Ideally, you’d like to see Conlan try and duplicate what Ruben Villa did in defeating Lopez.
Still, it’s questionable whether he’s tough enough to stand in the pocket and try to outbox the champion like he did. Villa has skills similar to Conlan but is arguably tougher and capable of standing in front of big punchers without wilting.
Conlan can’t afford to lose
“Luis is just a face in front of me that I’ve got to beat. Yeah, you’ll have that kind of push from the crowd, and I’ll feed into the energy, yes, but I won’t let it be the overriding emotion,” said Michael Conlan to Top Rank Boxing after weighing in on Friday.
“He can tell you how special it is to entertain at home. I’ve got one job, and that’s to win.”
“Not to put any pressure on you, Mick, but I think a lot of the guys on the undercard are relying on you to win to bring back big time boxing to Belfast,” said Carl Frampton.
“Without getting carried away, you can carry this city anyway a long distance in terms of bringing the big fights back, and you have to win. That’s so important. It’s a must-win for you.”
“100%, I understand that, and I’ve spoken about that before,” said Conlan. “I agree. It’s a must-win, and I’m looking for that to continue. I believe I’m going to put on a masterclass tomorrow.”
“We all want you to win. I’m buzzing about you being back in Belfast.”
“You’ve got guy that’s really decorated with the Commonwealth games and the Olympic games,” said Gareth A. Davies. “You’ve got the historic story of him flipping the bird after Rio when he felt he was cheated out of a medal.
“They saw that. Top Rank is very clever, as are Queensberry, in cultivating young fighters and having a conveyor belt. When they looked at Conlan, they knew he’d have a big following in the United States.
“They knew Belfast would embrace him, and they also knew that he had the boxing skills with it. I was there at his debut when Conor McGregor stole the show. They do things right. They know how to draw that promotional value out of him.
“Conlan, let’s not forget. He’s not one of those guys who is going to be on social media slagging his opponents and pulling all these stunts. He does his talking in the ring, and he typifies the lifeblood of Belfast.
“He’ll always have that following. When he fights in America, they travel with him. From America and also from here. They’ve got a diamond. He’s just got to get the job done against a very dangerous Luis Alberto Lopez.”