Luis Alberto “El Venado” Lopez (28-2, 16 KOs) defended his IBF featherweight world title with a fifth-round TKO over Michael “Mick” Conlan (18-2, 9 KOs) Saturday evening at The SSE Arena in Conlan’s hometown of Belfast.
Lopez made the first defense of his crown after beating Josh Warrington in enemy territory in Leeds, England. Once again, the 29-year-old native of Mexicali, Mexico, thrived on away soil.
Conlan, a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist making his second attempt at a world title, initiated the contest as expected, jabbing from a southpaw stance to establish distance. However, Lopez landed explosive left hooks and right hands to the body with surprising ease. Conlan ended the round with a series of left hands, but Lopez did not let the round end without landing some of his own.
In the following round, both men exchanged punches to the body. Lopez backed Conlan toward the ropes, but the 31-year-old Irishman returned the favor.
In the third stanza, Conlan relied more on head movement to avoid Lopez’s punches, dipping his head on the inside to avoid wild hooks. That backfired, as Lopez timed an uppercut that hurt Conlan and sent him reeling towards the ropes.
Conlan tried to regroup in the fourth, but by then, the damage had been done. In the fifth round, as Conlan ducked to avoid a wild hook, he ran into a right uppercut that immediately floored him, forcing his corner to throw in the towel.
Lopez said, “I hope all the world champions at the featherweight division are ready for ‘Venado’ Lopez. I’m coming for all of them. I want all their belts. One by one, I’m taking all their belts with me to Mexico.
“It was an excellent atmosphere to fight in. The energy was amazing. The boxing fans from Ireland have treated me very well, so I’m glad Mick and I could give them a great fight. I wish the best of luck to Conlan moving forward, and I hope he recovers and comes back very soon.”
Conlan said, “Lopez had my respect before the fight and still has my respect after the fight. He hits very hard. He just beat me. He travels well and is a great champion”
Featherweights: English contender Nick Ball (18-0, 11 KOs) defended his WBC Silver title with a 12th-round TKO win over South Africa’s Ludumo Lamati (21-1-1, 11 KOs). Lamati’s six-inch height advantage posed issues for Ball in the first two rounds of the fight, but by the third and fourth, Ball began closing the distance with ease. Once inside, the 26-year-old landed vicious combinations, and Lamati’s corner stopped the bout in the latter stages of the final round.
Junior Welterweights: Irish standout Pierce O’Leary (12-0, 7 KOs) defended his WBC International belt with a first-round stoppage over Florin Ciorceri (17-4, 7 KOs). O’Leary dropped Ciorceri with a left hook, then finished things up with a savage follow-up attack. Time of stoppage: 1:11.