Hammer-handed Lopez shoots down Michael Conlan world title dream
IBF featherweight world title: Michael Conlan lost to Luis Alberto Lopez TKO5
HAMMER-handed Luis Lopez reigned supreme on Saturday night, knocking out Michael Conlan with a devastating fifth round uppercut that sent the Belfast challenger crashing to the canvas.
Conlan’s trainer Adam Booth threw the towel because he knew there was no coming back for Conlan who had been hurt in the third round and was in trouble in the fourth.
All credit to the champion Lopez. Conlan had started the fight boxing well and haded the first two rounds but once the Mexican closed the distance and caught up with him his speed and the brutal power his has in both hands were too much.
Before the fight Lopez had boasted that Conlan wouldn’t go seven rounds with him – the harsh reality was that he didn’t last five.
Conlan had no answer as Lopez charged in, swinging from the hip with venom and accuracy, and after the Belfast man had been sent backpedalling into the ropes in the third round, the writing was on the wall for him.
“Lopez had my respect before the fight and still has my respect after the fight,” said Conlan.
“He hits very hard. He just beat me. He travels well and is a great champion.”
The Conlan gameplan was based on speed and movement but, when that failed to pay off, he was forced to stand and fight. Mexican Lopez took his shots and knocked him out. He said afterwards that the Belfast man had underestimated his power.
"I am stronger than him and more powerful than him,” he said.
“He has speed and great footwork. I did a great training camp, I was a little nervous but I got the win and am very happy about that.
"I wanted to come to Belfast so I could prove to myself that I am a true champion. I had an issue when I was injured when I was champion in 2019 and I really, really wanted to make a statement today, being a world champion with my first defence."
Obviously devastated by the loss, the Conlan camp were unavailable for comment on Sunday but the beaten challenger released a statement on social media.
“Wasn’t at the races,” he wrote.
“Couldn’t seem to get going and paid the price for it. Congratulations to Luis on a great performance, I wish you all the best in the future.”
Having fallen at the final hurdle for a second time, and this time on home turf, Conlan now has decisions to make about his boxing future. Against Leigh Wood (who won back his WBC title in Manchester on Saturday night) Conlan was in a winning position but he fell agonisingly short on the home stretch.
Having come so close, there were many positives from the Wood loss but this Lopez defeat will be much more difficult to process. Conlan spent weeks in camp in preparation but he was brutally knocked out and will now have to ask himself if he wants to regroup and begin to climb the ladder once again.
Along with his brother Jamie, he owns Conlan Boxing so he could begin to focus his interest outside the ring. At 31, he is young enough to roll the dice once again and perhaps pursue a rematch with his old sparring partner Wood but he has thinking to do as he maps out his future.
Round by round:
Round One: Conlan boxing southpaw as usual. Lands a right hand on the chin as Lopez misses with a left hook. Mexican a little wild as Conlan boxes and pivots on the back foot. Three right hands find target but Conlan takes one himself. Goes to the body in the closing stages – got a little greedy and was tagged again. Conlan 10 Lopez 9
Round Two: Conlan jabs and slips two Lopez bombs. Mexican steps in with a thudding right hand. Conlan takes it well and comes firing back. His movement is sharp and he drives Lopez into the ropes. Venom on his shots. Close round. 10-9
Round Three: Conlan targeting the body of Lopez but he’s in serious danger when he stays in the pocket. He stays too long and Lopez tags him with a brutal uppercut that sends him staggering back into a neutral corner. Did well to see out the final minute. 9-10
Round Four: One-two from Lopez who then steps in with another thunderbolt right hand. Conlan cracks his head back with a left hook but the Mexican looking too quick and dangerous with every shot. Conlan hanging on as the round ends. 9-10
Round Five: Lopez looking fresh, Conlan obviously struggling. The fighters go head-to-head and Conlan gambles on an all-out assault. He lands two booming shots but Lopez counters with a right hand and the Belfast man goes down. The towel comes in from his corner as he hits the canvas.