Luis Alberto Lopez To Defend IBF Featherweight World
Title Against Joet Gonzalez On Sept. 15
Mexico’s featherweight king is set to put his crown on the
line during Mexican Independence Day Weekend.
Luis Alberto “El Venado” Lopez will defend his IBF world
title against former two-time world title challenger Joet
Gonzalez on Friday, September 15 at American Bank Center in
Corpus Christi, Texas. Lopez returns stateside after
back-to-back championship showdowns abroad.
In the 10-round junior middleweight co-feature, rising
Puerto Rican sensation Xander Zayas takes on Mexico’s
Roberto Valenzuela Jr.
Lopez-Gonzalez and Zayas-Valenzuela will be broadcast live
on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m.
“The fight fans in Corpus Christi and everyone watching on
ESPN are in for a real treat. Luis Alberto Lopez is one of
Mexico’s emerging champions, and Joet Gonzalez is a seasoned
pro who is a difficult night at the office for anyone,” said
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “I am also pleased to see Puerto
Rico’s next superstar, Xander Zayas, back in the ring
against a step-up opponent in Valenzuela.”
Lopez (28-2, 16 KOs) overcame numerous challenges in his
quest to become a world champion. After early-career losses
to Abraham Montoya and Ruben Villa, he defeated Andy Vences
via split decision in July 2020 and dominated then-unbeaten
junior lightweight prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. over 10
rounds in September 2021. Lopez then moved down to
featherweight and stopped another undefeated foe, Isaac
Lowe, in seven rounds at London’s York Hall. After two
stay-busy wins, he earned his shot at the IBF title,
dethroning Josh Warrington in his hometown of Leeds,
England. In his first defense, the 29-year-old once again
traveled to enemy territory and beat Michael Conlan via
fifth-round TKO with a dazzling right uppercut in Belfast.
“We’re going to bring a memorable all-Mexican war to Corpus
Christi on Mexican Independence Day Weekend,” Lopez said.
“Nothing but respect to Joet, but he’s not leaving Texas
with my belt. I guarantee an exciting fight, but the IBF
world title will still be wrapped around my waist.”
Gonzalez (26-3, 15 KOs) debuted in the pro ranks in 2012 and
was 23-0 before facing Shakur Stevenson for the vacant WBO
featherweight title in 2019. He dominated veteran Miguel
Marriaga in his September 2020 return before losing his
second attempt at the WBO strap in a 2021 Fight of the Year
contender against Emanuel Navarrete. Gonzalez then stopped
Jeo Santisima via ninth-round TKO in March 2022 before
dropping a split decision to Isaac Dogboe in July of that
year. The 29-year-old will have his third opportunity at a
world title after defeating Enrique Vivas via 10-round
unanimous decision in April.
Gonzalez said, “I am thankful to Top Rank that I am
receiving another shot at the world title. I plan on taking
full advantage of this opportunity and fulfilling my dream.
Lopez is an excellent champion, but I’m coming to Texas with
every intention on hearing the words, ‘And NEW!’”
Zayas (16-0, 10 KOs) has been on a rapid trajectory to super
stardom since signing with Top Rank at 16. He has maintained
an unblemished record since debuting as a pro in October
2019. In 2022, he scored eight-round decision wins over
Quincy LaVallais and Alexis Salazar, along with a
fifth-round TKO against Elias Espadas. The 20-year-old will
make his second 2023 appearance after a 10-round unanimous
decision win over Ronald Cruz during Puerto Rican Day Parade
weekend in June. Valenzuela (21-4, 20 KOs) is a six-year pro
who has given stiff tests to Alexis Rocha, Souleymane
Cissokho and Bakhram Murtazaliev. The 24-year-old Mexican is
coming off a third-round TKO victory against Daniel Vega in
Xayas said, “I am excited for the next big step in my career
that will take place on September 15 in Corpus Christi,
Texas, against a Mexican warrior that I know will come
prepared to give his best and will bring out the best in me.
I am training hard to continue showing Puerto Rico and all
of Latin America what I am capable inside the ring.”
The ESPN+-streamed undercard includes an all-Mexico
showdown, a U.S. Olympian, and the return of three of Top
Rank’s top contenders.
Mexican standouts Omar Aguilar (25-1, 24 KOs) and Julio Luna
(20-1-2, 11 KOs) will collide in an eight-round welterweight
battle. Both are on the comeback trail following losses to
two of Top Rank’s finest. Aguilar suffered his first career
setback against Lindolfo Delgado last August and returned
with a second-round TKO win over Cristian Sonora Soltero in
May. Luna dropped a 10-round decision to Giovani Santillan
last August, but he bounced back with a third-round knockout
win against Hassam Valenzuela in March.
Lightweight contender Jamaine Ortiz (16-1-1, 8 KOs) returns
in a 10-rounder. Last October, the 27-year-old took an early
lead against former lightweight champion Vasiliy “Loma”
Lomachenko before losing the tightly contested battle via
Brazilian Olympic gold medalist and former two-time title
challenger Robson Conceicao (17-2, 8 KOs) will see action in
an eight-round junior lightweight tilt. Conceicao heads to
the ring for the second time this year following a no
contest against Nicolas Polanco in June.
Former world title challenger Ruben Villa (20-1, 7 KOs)
returns in an eight-round featherweight clash against
Colombia’s Brandon Valdes (15-3, 7 KOs). Villa dominated
Maickol Lopez Villagrana en route to a fifth-round KO in
U.S. Olympian Tiger Johnson (9-0, 5 KOs) makes his third
appearance of 2023 in an eight-round junior welterweight
fight against an opponent to be named. He scored a dominant
decision win over Jonathan Montrel in July.