Luis Alberto Lopez will return to the U.S. later this Summer to defend his IBF featherweight crown. The title bout was confirmed Monday that Lopez will headline the ESPN/Top Rank Boxing show on September 15th from Corpus Christi, TX.
Here’s more from the Top Rank release:
“Mexico’s featherweight king is set to put his crown on the line during Mexican Independence Day Weekend.
Luis Alberto “El Venado” Lopez will defend his IBF world title against former two-time world title challenger Joet Gonzalez on Friday, September 15 at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. Lopez returns stateside after back-to-back championship showdowns abroad.
In the 10-round junior middleweight co-feature, rising Puerto Rican sensation Xander Zayas takes on Mexico’s Roberto Valenzuela Jr.
Lopez-Gonzalez and Zayas-Valenzuela will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT
Promoted by Top Rank, tickets starting at $30 go on sale Tuesday, July 25 at 3 p.m. CST via Ticketmaster.com.
“The fight fans in Corpus Christi and everyone watching on ESPN are in for a real treat. Luis Alberto Lopez is one of Mexico’s emerging champions, and Joet Gonzalez is a seasoned pro who is a difficult night at the office for anyone,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “I am also pleased to see Puerto Rico’s next superstar, Xander Zayas, back in the ring against a step-up opponent in Valenzuela.”
Lopez (28-2, 16 KOs) overcame numerous challenges in his quest to become a world champion. After early-career losses to Abraham Montoya and Ruben Villa, he defeated Andy Vences via split decision in July 2020 and dominated then-unbeaten junior lightweight prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. over 10 rounds in September 2021. Lopez then moved down to featherweight and stopped another undefeated foe, Isaac Lowe, in seven rounds at London’s York Hall.
After two stay-busy wins, he earned his shot at the IBF title, dethroning Josh Warrington in his hometown of Leeds, England. In his first defense, the 29-year-old once again traveled to enemy territory and beat Michael Conlan via fifth-round TKO with a dazzling right uppercut in Belfast.
“We’re going to bring a memorable all-Mexican war to Corpus Christi on Mexican Independence Day Weekend,” Lopez said. “Nothing but respect to Joet, but he’s not leaving Texas with my belt. I guarantee an exciting fight, but the IBF world title will still be wrapped around my waist.”
Gonzalez (26-3, 15 KOs) debuted in the pro ranks in 2012 and was 23-0 before facing Shakur Stevenson for the vacant WBO featherweight title in 2019. He dominated veteran Miguel Marriaga in his September 2020 return before losing his second attempt at the WBO strap in a 2021 Fight of the Year contender against Emanuel Navarrete. Gonzalez then stopped Jeo Santisima via ninth-round TKO in March 2022 before dropping a split decision to Isaac Dogboe in July of that year. The 29-year-old will have his third opportunity at a world title after defeating Enrique Vivas via 10-round unanimous decision in April.
Gonzalez said, “I am thankful to Top Rank that I am receiving another shot at the world title. I plan on taking full advantage of this opportunity and fulfilling my dream. Lopez is an excellent champion, but I’m coming to Texas with every intention on hearing the words, ‘And NEW!’”
Zayas (16-0, 10 KOs) has been on a rapid trajectory to super stardom since signing with Top Rank at 16. He has maintained an unblemished record since debuting as a pro in October 2019. In 2022, he scored eight-round decision wins over Quincy LaVallais and Alexis Salazar, along with a fifth-round TKO against Elias Espadas. The 20-year-old will make his second 2023 appearance after a 10-round unanimous decision win over Ronald Cruz during Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend in June. Valenzuela (21-4, 20 KOs) is a six-year pro who has given stiff tests to Alexis Rocha, Souleymane Cissokho and Bakhram Murtazaliev. The 24-year-old Mexican is coming off a third-round TKO victory against Daniel Vega in April.”
Our Dan Rafael reported last week that Lopez would headline against Gonzalez for Top Rank in September and he’s certainly earned the prominent billing after the two wins over Warrington and Conlan in the U.K.