Luis Alberto Lopez to Defend IBF Featherweight Title Against Michael Conlan

Luis Alberto Lopez is going on the defensive…

The 29-year-old Mexican professional boxer will defend his IBF featherweight title against Michael Conlan on May 27 in the challenger’s native Belfast, Northern Ireland, after the fighters struck a deal, according to ESPN.

Luis Alberto Lopez, El VenadoThe 126-pound title fight, which shapes up as a slugfest, will be streamed stateside on ESPN+ in the afternoon.

Conlan (18-1, 9 KOs), 31, suffered his lone professional defeat against Leigh Wood in ESPN‘s 2022 Fight of the Year. Conlan floored Wood in the opening round and was ahead on all three scorecards when Wood sent him through the ropes for a 12th-round TKO victory, which was also named ESPN‘s KO of the Year.

Conlan, an Olympic silver medalist, rebounded with two victories later in the year. He dropped Miguel Marriaga three times in an August decision victory before he flattened Karim Guerfi in one round in December.

Lopez (27-2, 15 KOs) will be making the first defense of the title he wrested from Josh Warrington in December. He was in his opponent’s backyard, Leeds, England, but did enough to eke out the majority decision in a grueling fight.

Now, Lopez will travel to enemy territory once more. He has won 10 consecutive fights since a 2019 decision setback against Ruben Villa.

Lopez and Conlan are promoted by Top Rank. Lopez is ESPN’s No. 3 featherweight while Conlan is ranked No. 9.

Mauricio Lara Defeats Leigh Wood to Win WBA World Featherweight Title

Mauricio Lara is a world champion…

The 24-year-old Mexican professional boxer demonstrated his clinical finishing-punch power by stopping Leigh Wood in the seventh round to win the WBA world featherweight title in England on Saturday.

Mauricio LaraLara silenced Wood’s hometown fans at the Nottingham Arena when he floored the champion with a crunching left hook, and when Wood got to his feet, the English boxer’s trainer, Ben Davison, threw in the towel to stop the fight.

Wood had established control in an exciting fight at the time of the stoppage, before Lara’s stunning finish, and was unhappy with Davison’s decision to pull him out of the fight.

“I feel very happy for this championship. It’s what I’ve dreamed of since I was 8 years old,” Lara said. “I definitely felt Leigh’s punches, but they didn’t hurt me. He hits hard and is a good champion.”

The victory opens up the possibility of a title unification fight for Lara against one of the other world champions at 126 pounds — Rey Vargas (WBC) and Luis Alberto Lopez (IBF) — who are also both from Mexico.

But a rematch with Wood seems the more likely next move for Lara, ESPN‘s No. 1-ranked featherweight.

“I want the trilogy fight [with Josh Warrington] and, of course, I want more belts — it’s up to [promoter] Eddie Hearn to make it,” Lara said.

England is a happy hunting ground for Lara, who announced himself on the big stage when he stopped Warrington — the No. 1 featherweight in the world at the time — in the ninth round two years ago.

A rematch ended in frustration, when Lara suffered a nasty cut above his left eye in the second round, caused by a clash of heads, and the fight ended in a technical draw.

But Lara (26-2-1, 19 KOs), 24, known as “Bronco” and from Mexico City, produced two third-round knockouts last year and continued that lethal form to win his first world title, as a heartbroken Wood lost the belt in a second title defense.

Wood (26-4, 16 KOs), 34, had produced two dramatic, last-round knockouts in his previous two fights, against Xu Can to win the belt in July 2021 and then against Michael Conlan — in ESPN’s fight of the year — almost a year ago.

This time Wood was on the receiving end, but he seemed unhappy with the decision of his trainer to stop the fight.

“I’m a fighter — I’m not going to say anything more,” Wood said.

“I made a mistake and I paid for it. Absolutely I want the rematch.”

Wood suffered a setback early on when he was cut near his left eye, caused by a clash of heads in the opening round.

However, Wood started the second round full of fire, landing heavy shots, including a thudding left hook.

But Lara finished the second on top, after he shook Wood with a right to the temple and then had the champion in trouble in the final few seconds of the round.

An excellent encounter swung back in favor of the champion in the third round, with Wood continually threading his right hand through Lara’s guard.

Both landed big left hooks in the fourth, but Wood was more accurate — especially with his right hand — in the fifth round.

Wood, who has transformed his fortunes late in his career, controlled the sixth round as Lara looked subdued and missed with his punches.

Wood had the momentum, but when both went to throw left hooks at the same time, it was Lara’s that landed with such destruction in the seventh round.

Wood was left flat on his back for a count, and when he got to his feet, he was on legs of jelly, prompting Wood’s trainer to throw in the towel with just six seconds left in the round.

Wood was left in tears by Davison’s intervention.

Kiko Martinez to Reportedly Fight Josh Warrington in March

Kiko Martinez it preparing for a massive rematch…

The 35-year-old Spanish professional boxer, who has held the IBF featherweight title since November 2021, will fight Josh Warrington for a featherweight title on March 26 in England, according to ESPN sources.

Kiko Martinez

The rematch is one of two 126-pound title bouts Matchroom Boxing‘s Eddie Hearn will promote on DAZN in the U.K. that month. On March 12, Leigh Wood defends his title against Michael Conlan.

The pair of bouts could lead to a unification later in the year.

Martinez (43-10-2, 30 KOs) scored a highlight-reel sixth-round TKO of Kid Galahad in November in one of the year’s biggest upsets.

When they met in 2017, Warrington (30-1-1, 7 KOs) scored a majority decision victory over Martinez. The fighters were moving in different directions; Warrington, an Englishman, went on to win a featherweight title and scored wins over Carl Frampton, Galahad and Lee Selby. Martinez, meanwhile, suffered losses to Gary Russell Jr., and Zelfa Barrett.

But the 2021 campaign drastically altered their trajectories. Warrington, 31, suffered a stunning ninth-round TKO loss to Mauricio Lara in February in a brutal beating before the September rematch ended in a technical draw after two rounds due to an accidental clash of heads that left Lara with a gruesome cut.

Martinez was an afterthought heading into this bout with Galahad, but the 8-1 underdog scored the biggest win of career at 35.

Now Martinez and Warrington will meet again, and surprisingly, it’s the elder man who has the title and all the momentum.