Sources: Lopez to defend title vs. Conlan in May

Boxing

Luis Alberto Lopez 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, sources told ESPN.

The 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. The 29-year-old Mexican 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.

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