IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez and challenger Michael Conlan both made weight on Friday for their headliner contest this Saturday, May 27th, on ESPN+ at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Lopez (27-2, 15 KOs scaled in at 125 1/2 lbs, while the two-time Irish Olympian Conlan (19-1, 9 KOs) weighed 129.9 lbs
Lopez vs. Conlan card will be shown this Saturday LIVE on ESPN+ at 1:30 P.M. ET/10:30 a.m. PT.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Conlan can use his vast boxing knowledge to earn a decision against the unorthodox Lopez, who is powerful and fast. With the fight taking place in Belfast, you’ve got to hope that we don’t see a controversial decision.
Conlan is fighting in his hometown, which could mean that every close round will be scored in his favor.
The 31-year-old Conlan was stopped in the twelfth round last year in a loss to former WBA featherweight champion Leigh Woods. Conlan insists that he’s improved since then, but we can’t know that because his two fights since then have come against lower-level opposition.
• Luis Alberto Lopez 125.5 vs. Michael Conlan 125.9
• Nick Ball 125.9 vs. Ludumo Lamatii 125.5
• Anthony Cacace 129.9 vs. Damian Wrzesinski 129.4
• Pierce O’Leary 139.3 vs. Alin Florin Ciorcerii 140
Conlan learned from defeat
“I’m really excited about this opportunity. It’s a fantastic fight against Luis Alberto Lopez and to have it in my hometown is fantastic. From the [Leigh] Wood fight, I’ve learned an awful lot, especially about myself as I am as a fighter and as a person,” said Michael Conlan to Fighthype, discussing his title opportunity this Saturday night against IBF champion Lopez in Belfast.
“I know different kinds of things that were mistakes and pushing when I didn’t need to push. There’s so much I learned from fighting at a mad pace [against Wood] with so much on the line.
“There was an awful lot learned and taken away from it. There have been adjustments made and things we’ve been working on over the last year since that fight. I think I’ve shown that in my last two fights against Karim Guerfi and Miguel Marriaga.
“The improvements are there, and I’m still working on being the fighter that I am. It was very hard to take,” Conlan said about his twelfth round knockout loss to Leigh Wood last year in March 2022.
“I was broken for three or four weeks. I was trying to put everything together. ‘Why did I make these mistakes? What did I do wrong?’ And then I just started to go, ‘What’s the point of waiting around here? Let’s get back on the horse and get straight back to it,’ because I still believe I’m that guy, and I still believe I can be world champion.
“‘Let’s go right back to it. There’s no point in waiting too long. We’ll go in and go with someone dangerous.’ That’s why we picked Miguel Marriaga. He has 26 knockouts. He has more knockouts than I have fights. He’s been in with some of the top guys like Lomachenko.
“I went in there and put on a masterclass for ten rounds, boxed his ears, and put him down three times. Yeah, I was happy. Of course, what’s the point of sitting and licking your wounds? What’s the point of that?
“We got to go straight back to it. I’ve got things to do and I don’t have a lot of time, so they say. I’m 31 now. I’m at my physical peak, but as a fighter, you’re going towards the backend.
“I think most fighters don’t go more than 35. I need to go back to it as soon as possible and become world champion as soon as I could. So that’s why I did what I did,” Conlan said.
Pacing important for Mick
“I think in the Wood fight, I hadn’t practiced and hadn’t planned to flatten him like I did in the first round and then try to take him out in the next few good rounds, putting everything into the punches,” said Conlan.
“As they say, I worked when I didn’t need to work when I could have been taking little breaks and stuff. So, I learned an awful lot about how to pace a fight, how to control a fight, but also, in this fight, how to work nonstop.
That’s something I’d been doing for twelve rounds [in this camp] with three different guys at a hard, hard pace. The pace [against Luis Alberto Lopez] is going to be mad. It’s going to be crazy at times.
“As you saw with Luis Lopez as well. He started really fast against Josh Warrington, and then it died off towards the backend. With the Wood fight, it was just grit and determination from both guys and big heart showing from both guys.
“I could have been smarter. So I learned little things about that instead of getting caught up in the heat of the moment.
“I spent the first year of my career living in California and working on that Mexican style. Once I went in over there like a sponge and took in everything that I needed to take in. When I was there, I was fighting like a Mexican, trying to go forward.
“Then I realized that’s not how I should be fighting. I should go back to my skills and my boxing abilities. I’ve just mixed a whole lot of things together. I know you got that European upright style at times, and then you’ve got the American type style,” said Conlan.