The First Direct Arena in Leeds hosts world championship action this Saturday evening, and Josh Warrington defends his IBF featherweight title for the first time of his second reign against dangerous Mexican, Luis Alberto Lopez.
DAZN broadcast Warrington vs Lopez live, and Matchroom promote, with the card split through the day to accommodate England’s World Cup quarter-final with France.
Warrington (31-1-1, 8 KOs) has had a tricky couple of years. After establishing himself as a world champion, he set his sights on a unification, taking what he though was a tune-up fight against Mauricio Lara in February last year.
‘The Leeds Warrior’ got a rude awakening, badly beaten up and eventually stopped by the Mexican in nine rounds.
The 32-year-old bravely went for an immediate rematch, but the fight was curtailed in the second round due to a bad Lara cut.
The pair haven’t met since, and Warrington instead secured a shot at the IBF title that he previously held against a man he had already beaten in Kiko Martinez.
It was another tough night, with the home favourite breaking his jaw on route to a seventh round stoppage victory.
He now faces another big puncher in Lopez (26-2, 15 KOs). ‘El Venado’ holds decent wins against Andy Vences and Gabriel Flores Jr last year, and he followed that up with a cold seventh round knockout of Isaac Lowe.
The 29-year-old mandatory challenger was last out in August, knocking Yeison Vargas out in two rounds.
Prediction: Warrington will have learnt a lot from his defeat to Lara, and will be a lot more cautious against the dangerous Lopez. I fancy Warrington will have scary moments, but can take a clear enough decision after twelve rounds.
Bridges defends world title against O’Connell
The second world title fight on the bill comes at bantamweight, where Ebanie Bridges defends her IBF title in an all-Aussie clash against three-time world title challenger, Shannon O’Connell.
New South Wales’ Bridges (8-1, 3 KOs) won the title in March, widely outscoring Maria Cecilia Roman in the same venue as this weekend, and she now defends for the first time against Queenslander O’Connell (23-6-1, 11 KOs).
Prediction: Both are no spring chickens, but Bridges is the fresher, and the smart pick is for her to retain on the cards.
Cash clashes with Neves
Felix Cash (15-0, 10 KOs) gets a run-out in preparation for a world title eliminator against Austin ‘Ammo’ Williams in the New Year, and he can halt Celso Neves (9-2-2, 2 KOs) early in their scheduled eight rounder at middleweight.
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) December 4, 2022
Metcalf meets Pennington
The always entertaining JJ Metcalf (23-2, KO14) sees action for the first time since a career-best win overt Kerman Lejararaga in May and he should defend his WBA Continental super welterweight title with an inside schedule victory over Courtney Pennington (16-5-3, 7 KOs).
Former world champion, Shannon Courtenay (7-2, 3 KOs) makes a first appearance in 2022, and the fights for the first time since losing her world title, and she should shake off the rust in a points win over Gemma Ruegg (5-5, 1 KO).
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At super bantamweight, Hopey Price (8-0, 3 KOs) should secure a points win against Jonathan Santana (9-3-1, 1 KO), and Calum French (3-0, 1 KO) can take a win on the cards in his battle of unbeatens at lightweight against Kurt Jackson (3-0).
At super lightweight, Cory O’Regan (8-0) gets a decent test, and should come through over the distance against Shaun Cooper (13-4).
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At lightweight, Rhiannon Dixon (6-0) should also need the duration to see off Kristine Shergold (7-6-1, 1 KO).
Junaid Bostan (3-0, 3 KOs) can deal with Athanasios Glynos (2-1, 1 KO) inside schedule at super welterweight, and at bantamweight, Kody McNamara (3-0) should win on points against Nabil Ahmed (1-12-2).