Michael Conlan ready for 'dream' Belfast world title fight

Michael Conlan will challenge Mexican Luis Alberto Lopez for the IBF World featherweight title at the SSE Arena on May 27. Picture by PA
Neil Loughran

MICHAEL Conlan can finally start counting down the days to his “dream” of a home world title shot after confirmation that he will challenge Luis Alberto Lopez for the IBF World featherweight title at the SSE Arena on May 27.

Bringing the fight to Belfast is a coup for the Conlan camp, as the 31-year-old has a second crack at earning a World strap after that dramatic final round loss to Nottingham’s Leigh Wood last year.

Since then Conlan has defeated Colombian Miguel Marriaga and France’s Karim Guerfi to force his way back into title contention, though Lopez – who toppled former Carl Frampton conqueror John Warrington in December – represents a step up in class.

"This is a massive opportunity,” said Conlan, who had originally hoped to face the Mexican on St Patrick’s Day, only for a hand injury sustained against Warrington to force a delay.

“Fighting for a world title in Belfast is something I've always dreamed of, and I will be taking this opportunity with both hands.

"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.

"Ireland will see a new champion crowned.”

Lopez, though, will have other ideas. At 29, and with two defeats from 29 fights, the upset win over Warrington was a breakthrough moment in his career.

And, having mostly fought outside of Mexico in recent years, he insists he isn’t worried about coming to Belfast to face Conlan.

"I am a road warrior. Traveling to my opponent's home country doesn't faze me.

"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.”

Also on the bill, Anto Cacace is expected to defend his IBO super-featherweight title – possibly against Dubliner Jono Carroll – while Padraig McCrory is likely to face Mark Heffron after his expected opponent, Brazilian Falcao Yamaguchi is to fight the WBA’s ‘regular’ champion David Morrell.

Tickets go on sale at 11am on Friday via