By Jake Tiernan: Michael Conlan (18-1, 9 KOs) is predicting victory against IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez (27-2, 15 KOs) in their headliner tonight at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The card will be live on ESPN+ at 1:30 p.m. ET/10:30 a.m. PT.
The two-time Olympian Conlan, 31, will have the hometown advantage over the Mexican Lopez, but that might not matter. Lopez is accustomed to fighting on the road, and he recently dethroned IBF 126-lb champion Josh Warrington in front of his fans in Leeds last December.
Lopez, 29, dealt with endless roughhouse tactics from Warrington but still came out victorious on the night.
There’s no mystery what Conlan will be doing on Saturday, as he’s not going to stand and trade with the younger, faster, and more powerful Lopez. Conlan will stick & move the whole night and look to duplicate what the highly technical Ruben Villa did when he easily outboxed Lopez in 2019.
Conlan was knocked out in the twelfth round by former WBA 126-lb champion Leigh Wood last year in his previous attempt at trying to capture a world title.
- Luis Alberto Lopez vs. Michael Conlan
- Nick Ball vs. Ludumo Lamati
- Anthony Cacace vs. Damian Wrzesinski
- Pierce O’Leary vs. Alin Florin Ciorceri
“On Saturday night, I will be champion,” said Michael Conlan.
“He’s a man of principle. A lot of times when you get cheated in the Olympics, you’re told to be quiet, and he wouldn’t accept it, and he gave the finger where it belongs to the Russians to where he couldn’t win the fight,” said the promoter Bob Arum to BT Sport Boxing about Michael Conlan.
“Luis Lopez isn’t the greatest technical fighter in the world, but he has a heart and refuses to lose. He doesn’t give a damn where he’s fighting and who he’s fighting against.
“A lot of these Mexican kids come from very poor backgrounds. So they fighting not only for themselves but also for their families. So there’s something very special in the way like Luis Alberto Lopez approaches a boxing match. All fighters want to win, but for Mexican fighters, it’s a fight for survival.
“It can be a great fight. Mick [Conlan] has better technical abilities than Luis has, but he’s got to overcome a guy that is so driven. When you’re fighting, in effect, for the survival of your family, for the life-changing ability for your family to survive, that’s a tough opponent.
“If Michael wins, I’ll sit down with him, Jamie [Conlan], and his father, and we’ll figure out the best course of action for him. Maybe we’ll bring him back to the United States to fight. But this would be a lifelong dream for Michael to win this fight.
“Then we’ll plot his next step to capitalize on the title,” said Arum about what he’ll do if he successfully defeats IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez on Saturday.
“I’ve been there from the start of Mick’s career. It certainly propels Mick Conlan to be one of the faces of boxing, one of the star attractions, and he’ll be in demand by fans in arenas all over the world if he’s victorious on Saturday night.