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Boxing Preview: Luis Alberto “El Venado” Lopez (28-2-0, 16 KO’s) at Joet Gonzalez (26-3-0 15 KO’s)

Luis Alberto “El Venado” Lopez, Mexico’s top dog in the featherweight division, goes gloves up to defend his IBF world title. The arena? Corpus Christi, Texas, on September 15. The challenger? Joet Gonzalez, a two-time contender for the world title. TV: LIVE on ESPN+

Lopez, the reigning champ with a record of 28 wins, 2 losses, and 16 knockouts, is not new to the heat of the championship kitchen. He’s brushed off early career stumbles against Abraham Montoya and Ruben Villa, clinching convincing wins against Andy Vences and outclassing Gabriel Flores Jr. Riding high on his recent conquest of the IBF title from Josh Warrington, Lopez is fuelled up and ready for Gonzalez. He’s vowing to keep the spectators on their feet with an “exciting fight,” while being resolute that the world title isn’t going anywhere but home with him.

Xander Zayas, the junior middleweight sensation, prepares to lace up his gloves for his first-ever 10-round battle. Zayas is set to lock horns with Mexico’s own Roberto Valenzuela Jr., serving as the high-voltage co-main event to the much-anticipated IBF featherweight world title clash between reigning champ Luis Alberto “El Venado” Lopez and Joet Gonzalez. The showdown is slated for Friday, September 15, at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Zayas, a gem in Puerto Rico’s ever-blossoming crown of boxing talent, inked a deal with Top Rank when he was just 16 and has since kept his record spotless at 16-0 with 10 knockouts. He pulled off a stellar 2022 campaign, claiming eight-round decision victories over Quincy LaVallais and Alexis Salazar, as well as a fifth-round technical knockout win against Elias Espadas. This past June, he took center stage during the Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend, conquering Ronald Cruz via an eight-round unanimous decision at the iconic Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Following an intense workout session in the heart of Miami, Zayas weighed in with his thoughts:

“I’m pouring my heart and soul into the preparations for what promises to be a landmark moment in my career on the 15th of September in Corpus Christi, Texas. I couldn’t be more pumped. I’m all geared up to steal the limelight on a date that holds immense significance for my Mexican supporters. And it’s not just any fight—this is one of my inaugural matches that pits Puerto Rico against Mexico. Challenge accepted!”

“Eight weeks of grueling practice has my gaze locked firmly on victory. Training alongside Juan Macias Montiel, a veteran in the middleweight division who’s been in the ring with some real titans, has been invaluable. His unique fighting style and seasoned strategies have helped me elevate my own game. Mark your calendars for September 15; I’ll be putting on a performance you won’t forget, delighting not just the Corpus Christi crowd, but also those tuning in live on ESPN.”

Valenzuela, a battle-tested pugilist with a 21-4 record and 20 KOs, has been in the pro circuit for six years and has thrown down challenging gauntlets against the likes of Alexis Rocha, Souleymane Cissokho, and Bakhram Murtazaliev. The 24-year-old Mexican warrior is fresh off a third-round TKO victory over Daniel Vega this past April.

Omar Aguilar and Julio Luna, both keen to bounce back from recent losses, will face off in an all-Mexican welterweight showdown.

More powerhouses to watch for on the card include Jamaine Ortiz, stepping back into the limelight for a 10-rounder, after a nail-biter with Vasiliy “Loma” Lomachenko. Brazilian Olympic gold medalist Robson Conceicao is also ready to turn up the heat in a junior lightweight face-off. And be sure to catch Ruben Villa as he returns to the ring against Colombia’s Brandon Valdes in a featherweight thriller.

U.S. Olympian Tiger Johnson is making his third appearance of the year in a junior welterweight fight.

Date & Time: Date: Friday, September 15 Main card starts: 10 p.m. ET / 3 a.m. BST Main event (approximate): 12:00 a.m. ET / 5:00 a.m. BST (Please note that the actual times might vary depending on the undercard fights’ durations.)

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