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Warrington-Lopez Setting Up For Blue-Collar Classic?

Warrington-Lopez Setting Up For Blue-Collar Classic?

Boxing News

Warrington-Lopez Setting Up For Blue-Collar Classic?

Mark Robinson- Matchroom Boxing UK

Warrington-Lopez Setting Up For Blue-Collar Classic?

(This commentary item originally appeared on David’s site and for great insight of coverage of fight in Britain and beyond, make sure you also follow him on social media @theboxingwrtier)

There is a crazy little Mexican man coming to Leeds on Saturday night. His name is Luis Alberto Lopez. A fighter with rocks in either hand, a wild glint in his eyes and zero shits given about the reputation of the man he challenges, IBF Featherweight champion Josh Warrington.

Their battle may be short, it may go the distance. A tantalising unpredictability pervades. Lopez’s style doesn’t lend itself to the science of a gambler’s algorithms nor the made to measure tailoring often afforded British attractions by promoters protecting their cut and that uncertainty provides a welcome frisson of excitement.

There are ingredients present for a blue-collar classic.

A lack of reputation or notoriety is easy to misinterpret. Unconventional, awkward and with a total absence of respect for rivals, Lopez has form for causing surprises. Upset wins over Andy Vences and Gabriel Flores Jnr. evidence of his capabilities. The latter was battered from pillar to post, despite holding advantages of height, reach and pedigree, for 10 rounds. He finished the fight humbled, hurt and no longer unbeaten.

Any lingering doubt as to Warrington’s remaining peak, he turned 32 recently, after variance in recent performances will be either quashed or substantiated this weekend. Lopez will pose the necessary questions without fear and with a dispiriting, almost deranged smile.

How Must Warrington Approach The Challenge?

To win, and he is, at the time of writing, favourite, Warrington needs to be precise, disciplined and aim straight down the pipe with his punches. Lopez own energy levels demand Warrington is in pristine condition too. The 29-year-old Mexican emerged from the Isaac Lowe stoppage win, the victory that secured him this shot, a year ago, unmarked and apparently just as fresh as he had at the beginning of the seven rounds they shared. He relished the exchanges, absorbed everything Lowe threw and was decisive in attack. A left hook in the first, a right hand in the second both dropped the Englishman and a body shot in the seventh ended the fight. Lowe had success, but at no point could he deter Lopez nor induce even momentary concern. Lopez just regrouped and fired back with unflinching conviction.

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Those observers not acquainted with Lopez may expect, given his Mexican heritage and the narrative that walks before fighters from his country, a come forward, high output brawler. He is, and, paradoxically, he isn’t. There is method and there is a type of madness.

Aggression is a theme in all his work, true. Flooring the fancied Lowe with the first punch thrown evidence of that but his footwork lurches between the nimble and the ungainly. His chin is often held high when he launches his attacks too. He is able to leap inside to good effect with purposeful combinations but also renders himself off-balance and vulnerable too when trying to land single haymakers from out of range. He has good hand and foot speed. This erratic mixture makes him hard to read.

The Yorkshireman, in his second reign as IBF champion, Mauricio Lara had unseated him convincingly in 2020, will need to guard against complacency. A cut caused by a head clash ended the Lara rematch prematurely, and left an inconclusive Technical Decision between them. Beating veteran Kiko Martinez subsequently is a solid if slim body of work to confirm a renaissance in Warrington’s form since losing to Lara – himself, an unheralded Mexican albeit one more conventional in style – or that the Lara performance was merely a blip.

Featherweights in their 30s rarely have blips.

Despite Lopez’ diminutive 5 foot 4 stature and short reach, he can close distance quickly and does so well in combination. There are no punches thrown as range finders or as distractions. On the evidence of the wins versus Lowe and Flores Jr, every single shot is designed to detach his opponent’s head from his shoulders or his ribs from his spine. To paraphrase former Lightweight champion Jim Watt, in his decades as a colour commentator; “there is devil in Lopez’s work.”

Instinctively, it is easy to assume Warrington will be lured into a fire fight here. It is Warrington’s go to strategy to outpunch and outwork opponents. He has a point to prove, a theme of his career, as doubters continue to persist, a crowd to please and he may feel he is the naturally bigger Featherweight. There is risk in doing so, but risk exists in standing at range despite the advantage of reach he holds. The opening rounds of his signature win over Carl Frampton were mesmerising and the Irishman was both stunned by the ferocity and frequency of the attacks but also the precision Warrington showed in exchanges. The question now, with more miles travelled and a veteran himself, can Warrington rescale those elevated heights? Can he overwhelm Lopez or can he outbox him from range?

He will need to be good because if Warrington cannot deter him with power or boxing from distance, Lopez may be in the right place at the right time. Important to remember Lopez isn’t Frampton, a decorated star, and he is stylistically entirely different to Lara, but come Saturday, in front of Warrington’s partisan following, he could prove a troubling opponent.

The meeting point of their respective career trajectories and the anarchic nature of Lopez’ style make for an intriguing encounter.

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David has been writing about boxing, sport’s oldest showgirl, for almost twenty years. Appearing as a columnist and reporter across print and digital as well as guest appearances with LoveSportRadio and LBC in the UK and, of course, The Big Fight Weekend podcast. Find his unique take on the boxing business here and at his site;

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