Michael Conlan (18-1-0, 9KOs) returns to Belfast on Saturday night as he looks to tear the IBF featherweight title away from Mexico’s Luis Alberto Lopez (27-2-0, 15KOs).
The latter has enjoyed his two spells on British soil so far, stopping Isaac Lowe in December 2021 before outpointing Josh Warrington to become IBF champion in Leeds at the end of last year.
Six months on, the 29-year-old heads to Conlan’s backyard at the SSE Arena in the Irish capital to make his first defence of the title before eyeing up potential unifications later in the year.
“It has been a great welcome by the Belfast fans. I’m waiting to go in [there] on Saturday and do my job”, Lopez told BT Sport.
“My promoter offered me this fight and I said ‘let’s take it’. I’ve been telling my manager all the time, after this fight I want all the belts at 126 and then go up to 130.”
Conlan meanwhile enters the fight having won his last two fights since his stunning last-gasp defeat to Leigh Wood in March last year.
Miguel Marriaga and Karim Guerfi both made way for the 31-year-old, who looks to secure his first world title since turning pro six years ago.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been this kind of calm”, Conlan said. “[It’s] definitely a lesson from the last world title challenge [against Wood] where I was getting riled up, shouting at the crowd and that kind of stuff.
Both men will also have an eye on a fight taking place across the Irish Sea in Manchester when the aforementioned Wood takes on Lopez’s countryman Mauricio Lara.
The latter stopped Wood in the seventh after an impressive boxing display up until that point from the Brit and the pair will run it back on Saturday night for the WBA featherweight crown.
Staying at featherweight, Liverpool’s hard-hitting Nick Ball (17-0-0, 10KOs) continues his assent towards world titles as he takes on South Africa’s Ludumo Lamati (21-0-1, 11KOs).
Ball burst onto the scene with an impressive sixth-round stoppage of Isaac Lowe in April last year and has since added a further two knockouts, the most recent coming in the first round.
Lamati meanwhile is yet to taste defeat as a pro but has fought all but one of his contests in his native South Africa.
Belfast super-featherweight Anthony Cacace (20-1-0, 7KOs) also features as he takes on Poland’s Damian Wrzesinski (26-2-2, 7KOs) over twelve rounds.
Featured images: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.