Opportunity knocks for a second time this Saturday night at the SSE Arena in Belfast for Michael Conlan, as he takes on IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez in what looks like an evenly matched contest on paper.
Frank Warren along with Top Rank promote, while BT Sport is the place to see Lopez vs Conlan in the UK, and ESPN have the US rights.
Conlan (18-1, 9 KOs) was robbed in the 2016 Olympics, and swiftly turned professional, eventually facing his amateur foe Vladimir Nikitin in 2019, winning nearly all ten rounds.
After winning ranking-building and interim titles, the 31-year-old earned a world title shot against WBA boss Leigh Wood last March.
The Belfast man dropped Wood in the opener, and was well ahead on the cards, but was decked in the penultimate round, before being knocked out in the final frame.
He has since been on the rebuild, first widely outscoring Miguel Marriaga, and in his last outing in December 2022, he wiped out Karim Guerfi inside a round.
He now faces the dangerous Mexican Lopez (27-2, 15 KOs), who makes the first defence of his belt.
The 29-year-old has won his last ten contests, including a decision win against Gabriel Flores Jr, and a knockout of Isaac Lowe.
‘El Venado’ won the title last December, getting the better of Josh Warrington to take a majority verdict.
Victory for either man could lead to a unification with the winner of Saturday’s WBA featherweight title rematch between Mauricio Lara and Leigh Wood.
Prediction: Lopez shocked Warrington with his workmate and engine, but Conlan will be a different prospect. The Northern Irishman can send his fans home happy by avoiding an early onslaught to take a points win in the end.
Ball battles Lamati
Nick Ball (17-0, 10 KOs) is on a run of four straight early wins, and he makes a third defence of his WBC Silver featherweight belt against Ludumo Lamati.
Although unbeaten, Lamati (21-0-1, 11 KOs) fights outside of his native South Africa for only the second time.
Prediction: I can’t see him hearing the final bell in this twelve rounder.
Cacace clashes with Wrzesinski
Anthony Cacace (20-1, 7 KOs) has only fought twice since the end of 2019, due to injury and other inactivity, but the Belfast native should be able to defend his IBO super featherweight title for the first time with a points win against Poland’s Damian Wrzesinski (26-2-2, 7 KOs).
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In ten rounders, Padraig McCrory (16-0, 9 KOs) gets tricky Argentine Diego Ramirez (25-9-1, 6 KOs) over the rounds at super middleweight, and he should come through on the cards.
Pierce O’Leary (11-0, 6 KOs) should be able to defend his WBC International super lightweight title with an early win against Romanian Alin Florin Ciorceri (17-3, 7 KOs).
The final ten rounder is at super flyweight, where Conor Quinn (5-0-1, 4 KOs) may need the distance to see off Juan Hinostroza (11-10-2, 5 KOs).
In six rounders, William Hayden (5-0, 1 KO) should outscore Jordan Ellison (14-47-3, 1 KO) at lightweight, and welterweight prospect Kieran Molloy (5-0, 3 KOs) can halt Nicaraguan Lesther Espino (6-3, 4 KOs).
At middleweight, Fearghus Quinn (5-0, 2 KOs) should stop Ruben Angulo (8-5-2, 4 KOs), and rising featherweight star, Kurt Walker (6-0, 1 KO) can outpoint Maicol Velazco (10-6, 3 KOs).
In four round action, Callum Thompson (6-0, 1 KO) can remain unbeaten with a points win against Marian Marius Istrate (3-16) at lightweight, and middleweight debutant James Freeman can do the same against the experienced Jordan Grannum (8-115-4).