Josh Warrington will defend his IBF World Featherweight title this Saturday night against Luis Alberto Lopez.
Taking place in Warrington’s home city of Leeds at the First Direct Arena, not only is his title on the line, but the potential of a huge 2023 that could see him chase the big fights in America if he wins.
Here’s how the pair line up ahead of this weekend’s clash…
Out of Warrington’s 33-fight career, this will be his 12th appearance at the same venue, winning all his previous 11 fights here in the eight years since his first.
Also in that time, ‘The Leeds Warrior’ has travelled to fight overseas just once, that being a TKO win over Edwin Tellez at the O2 World Arena in Kreuzberg, Germany, back in 2015.
He’s fought elsewhere in his home city, too, taking Lee Selby’s IBF World Featherweight title off him in front of a packed Elland Road stadium – a hugely proud moment for him being a massive Leeds United fan.
Later in 2018, a mega clash with Carl Frampton was billed. Warrington taking it by points after an explosive opening to shock Frampton and retain his title.
Since then, he hasn’t backed down to any challenge, going up against technically gifted Kid Gallahad in 2019. His split decision win was enough to keep him champion.
Following that up with a comfortable knockout win over Sofiane Tackoucht, he would then have to wait two years before coming back against Mauricio Lara at Wembley Arena.
This would turn out to be Warrington’s only loss of his pro career to date, being knocked down twice before finally stopped in the ninth round.
Ready to make amends seven months later, his rematch was cut short after Lara sustained a nasty cut above his left eye from an accidental clash of heads. The doctor called off the fight, ending the bout in a technical draw.
Turning a new leaf in 2022, Warrington reclaimed his IBF title, beating Kiko Martinez by TKO despite suffering a broken jaw.
Warrington’s opponent, Lopez, will take confidence from fellow Mexican Lara beating him last year.
Knowing the Leeds man is not undefeated, can be beaten at home and holds the title he’s after, ‘El Vanedo’ is on form heading into the fight.
His 28-fight professional career began in 2015, building up 12 wins on the spin in his native country. However, the Mexico Pacific Coast Super Featherweight title was a step too soon, narrowly losing out to Abraham Montoya on points.
He started to gain momentum again in the subsequent 12 months but was again stopped in his tracks by undefeated Ruben Villa on just his second fight in the USA.
That sharp learning curve has proved vital for his career ever since, recording highlight victories against Gabriel Flores Jr. and Isaac Lowe on his first fight overseas.
A year on and he’s back in the UK, ready to take on the huge challenge that lies ahead of him.
Who Are You Backing?
With Warrington the more experienced, the taller and with a better reach of the pair, the odds look in the champ’s favour.
As England take on France in the World Cup quarter-finals, the main event ring walk is expected at 10:35pm, but this could be pushed back due to extra time and penalties.
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