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  Lopez vs. Gonzalez Final Press Conference

Luis Alberto "El Venado" Lopez (28-2, 16 KOs) is ready to kick-start Mexican Independence Day weekend with the second defense of his world title.

Lopez will put his IBF featherweight world title on the line against two-time world title challenger Joet Gonzalez (26-3, 15 KOs) this Friday at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.

In the 10-round junior middleweight co-feature, rising Puerto Rican sensation Xander Zayas (16-0, 10 KOs) faces Mexicos Roberto Valenzuela Jr. (21-4, 20 KOs). In the six-round lightweight ESPN-televised opener, Emiliano Fernando Vargas (6-0, 5 KOs) steps up versus Spain's Alejandro Guardado (5-0, 1 KO).

Lopez-Gonzalez, Zayas-Valenzuela and Vargas-Guardado will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT

The ESPN+-streamed undercard (6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT) features Mexican standouts Omar Aguilar (25-1, 24 KOs) and Julio Luna (20-1-2, 11 KOs) in an eight-round welterweight tilt.

Corpus Christi native John Rincon (7-0, 2 KOs) takes on Puerto Rico's Bryan Ismael Rodriguez Rivera (4-1-1, 2 KOs) in a six-round welterweight clash, and Jamaine Ortiz (16-1-1, 8 KOs) fights Antonio Moran (29-5-1, 20 KOs) in his first fight since last year's valiant effort against Vasiliy Lomachenko.

Former world title challenger Ruben Villa (20-1, 7 KOs) will look to notch his second win of the year in an eight-round featherweight battle against Brandon Valdes (15-3, 7 KOs), while U.S. Olympian Tiger Johnson (9-0, 5 KOs) makes his third appearance of 2023 in an eight-round junior welterweight fight against Ricardo Quiroz (13-2, 7 KOs).

At Wednesday's press conference, this is what the fighters had to say.

Luis Alberto Lopez

I am happy to fight on an important date for Mexico where Joet Gonzalez and I will be representing our country. We are going to present a real war that night.

I respect him because he has had great fights. He has done a great job in his career. But you know that when we get in the ring there is no respect. I am going to take this belt home for my family and for Mexico.

Its going to be a total war. When there are two hungry Mexicans in the ring, they always go at it with everything. We know that Joet Gonzalez is tough. And my goal, as Ive said, is to knock him out.

We are ready as always. I am a fighter who knows how to give exciting fights. I am a warrior who goes forward. They know that when El Venado gets in the ring, there will be a great show.

Joet Gonzalez

This is my third {world title} opportunity. Im truly grateful. Ive worked really hard every single time. And every time I step into the ring, I give it my all. Ive got to win.

Ive always trained hard. Ive never taken any shortcuts. Ive always put in the hard work in the gym. But sometimes its not your night. It is what it is. But Im still here, and Im going to give it my all every time.

Im expecting a great fight. Its a big day for Mexico. All I have to do is win and become the new IBF world champion. Plain and simple. I cant go home empty-handed. Im bringing that belt back home.

Xander Zayas

Its been a great journey. Im 16 fights in. Ive been growing. Ive been learning. Ive been getting better in and outside of the ring. And Im excited to put on a show this Saturday night.

"Weve been training for the last three or four fights for a ten-rounder. Now I get the opportunity, and Im going to take advantage of it. Im facing a Mexican warrior who is ready to put on a show."

"He has a lot of things behind him. Mexican Independence Day is the day after. His family is here with him. Hes probably going to have the crowd behind him. But Im excited to put on a show and win over the crowd.

Roberto Valenzuela Jr.

It is a very important date for me and for Mexico. So, we will do our best to get a good result. This is my opportunity to let everyone know who Roberto Valenzuela is.

We have been studying him. He is a great boxer. He actually doesn't have many flaws. But I believe that my hunger to win and move forward in my career is going to be the difference. I know that if I win this fight, we will be on the path to very big fights;.

Omar Aguilar

I feel very excited and happy. It is a great date for Mexico and for boxing. So I feel honored to fight on these dates, and what better way to do it than with these people around me? I'm going to give my best in the ring."

I learned a lot against Lindolfo Delgado. I matured with that fight. It was a very interesting fight. I hope to take all the experience that Ive gained and apply in this fight. We are ready."

Julio Luna

I've come very well prepared, whether it lasts eight rounds or if it ends before. If it ends earlier, even better. But Ive come prepared either way. Whenever two Mexicans get into the same ring, it is a guaranteed war. I think this will not be the exception.

"The fight with Giovani Santilln gave me a lot of experience. And now I'm trying to get rid of that thorn in my side. I was not happy with that decision, and now I am grateful for this second opportunity.

Emiliano Fernando Vargas

Its a blessing to be here. Its a great opportunity for me to bring that excitement back to Corpus Christi. Its definitely something special for me and my father. He fought here, and now Im fighting here almost 20 years later. Its very special for us.

Im insanely excited to make my ESPN debut. This is definitely a step up with the opponent I have. Its only going to make it more of a show. The best comes out of me when Im facing better opposition. At the end of the day, to get to that world championship level where I know I can compete at and dominate, Ive got to get through the Spaniard come Friday.

John Rincon

Ive been dreaming for a moment like this since I was a kid. Im finally here. The hard work is done. Friday night Im going to put on a great show. Ill see you all then.


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