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Michael Conlan has his sights set on the IBF featherweight world title this weekend as he fights champion Luis Alberto Lopez in Belfast.
The Northern Irishman was denied a first WBA featherweight title when he lost to Leigh Wood in Nottingham last year, the only defeat of his professional career to date.
He will be keen to make amends this weekend in what promises to be a fascinating contest live on BT Sport 1 and BT Sport Ultimate.
Here are three reasons you can’t afford to miss this fight.
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Big Belfast atmosphere to spur Conlan on
Conlan is a difficult man to beat wherever he happens to be fighting, but in his homeland he has the advantage of a vociferous and partisan crowd baying for blood.
Miguel Marriaga and Karim Guerfi were swept aside in Belfast last year as the 31-year-old responded to his defeat to Wood in convincing fashion.
And the atmosphere should go up a notch given what’s on the line this Saturday. Everyone at the SSE Arena will be shouting for Conlan, who is unlikely to find motivation an issue.
This is, without question, the biggest fight in Belfast in recent history and much will come down to which of the two fighters handles the occasion better.
Conlan has the edge with the bookies and is certainly not short of confidence. “This is a massive opportunity, fighting for the world title in Belfast is something I’ve always dreamed of and will be taking this opportunity with both hands,” he said.
“The SSE Arena will be buzzing, and I will do everything I can to bring a world title home. Credit to Lopez for coming to Belfast, but I am taking his title. He is not prepared for what is coming his way on May 27. Ireland will see a new champion crowned.”
Lopez looking to spoil the party
El Venado is unlikely to be overawed by the crowd and the significance of Saturday’s fight.
The 29-year-old is starting to make a habit of beating UK fighters in their home country. In December, he got the better of Josh Warrington over 12 rounds to become IBF featherweight champion.
And two years earlier, Lopez beat Isaac Lowe by KO at York Hall in London.
The Mexican is no stranger to upsetting the odds in unfamiliar territory, then, and he will need to be at his resilient best to come away from Belfast with another victory.
He’s not used to losing, though: Lopez is on a streak of ten straight wins after his last defeat to Ruben Villa back in 2019.
“I am a road warrior. Travelling to my opponent’s home country doesn’t faze me,” he said.
“I won my world title in Leeds, and now it's time to defend it in Belfast. The louder they cheer for Michael, the harder I will fight. The IBF title will remain in Mexico. May 27 will be a special night for me, and Michael’s fans will go home disappointed.”
A clash of styles
Conlan’s southpaw stance and front foot approach have served him well so far but Lopez will hope to exploit any vulnerabilities.
The Northern Irishman can occasionally leave himself open to a counterpunch and his opponent on Saturday is an effective jabber and can throw punches that do more damage than his diminutive size would suggest is possible.
The approach each fighter takes will be a key element of the contest, particularly as Lopez looks to compensate for a four inch difference in height.
His gameplan is likely to be more disruptive, while Conlan may look to remain patient and slowly work away at the title holder.
Whatever the outcome, it should be a fascinating one to watch.