LAS VEGAS - Adam Lopez believes he is being overlooked while a showdown looms between WBO world junior lightweight titleholder Emanuel Navarrete and Oscar Valdez.
Lopez hopes to ruin those plans and put himself in contention tonight when he faces Valdez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 10-round bout will precede the main event bout between undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney and Vasiliy Lomachenko.
At Friday’s weigh-in both fighters weighed in at 132.1 pounds.
Lopez (16-4 1 NC, 6 knockouts), who resides in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, first faced Valdez in November 2019, which also took place in Las Vegas. Lopez took the fight on very short notice after original opponent Andres Gutierrez weighed 11 pounds above the contracted weight.
The 27-year-old dropped Valdez early in the fight before Valdez rallied to win by knockout in the seventh round.
Since then, Lopez has defeated the likes of Luis Coria, Jason Sanchez, and, most recently, William Encarnacion. In his last bout on January 14, Lopez lost to Abraham Nova by unanimous decision.
Earlier this week, Lopez bragged he placed a bet on himself to defeat Valdez. He clarified that he placed three bets on himself and will cash in when, according to Valdez, he defeats Valdez tonight.
“In the first fight, he got on a day’s notice,” Lopez told BoxingScene after Friday’s weigh-in. “I was 23 years old and (had) only two 10-round bouts under my belt. I’m 27 now. I’ve been in the ring with some of the best in the world. If he thinks he’s fighting the same kid he fought back in 2019, he has the story messed up.
The odds, I’m +650. I am very confident with this (fight). I had a great camp. It’s the best I’ve ever been. It’s the strongest I’ve ever been. I’m feeling great. I’m very confident with this fight. I don’t think he’s going to bring anything new to the table. He’s an old dog. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I’m still learning. I’m still getting better. This is the best I’ve been. He’s in for a long night. I’m very confident and that’s why I put money on myself.”
Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs), who resides in Nogales, Mexico, returns to the same venue where he lost his WBC world junior lightweight title in a unification fight against then-WBO titleholder Shakur Stevenson on April 30 of last year.
The 32-year-old was scheduled to face Navarrete on February 3, but was forced to withdraw from the fight after a reported injury. Navarrete would face Liam Wilson, whom he would defeat to win the vacant WBO world title at 130 pounds.
Lopez believes the long layoff from the injury will play into his hands.
“He’s a very emotional fighter,” said Lopez, who is the son of former contender Hector Lopez. “He fights with emotion. He has one gear. He comes forward and throws big shots. When he gets frustrated, he throws bigger shots. That gives me more openings. My plan is to stay smart, stay calm, pick my shots, and step on the gas when he’s not ready for it. I haven’t seen nothing new. He’s coming off his first loss. He’s coming off a bad injury. I think the odds are twisted. I’m taking advantage of it. This will be my bonus for (tonight).”
Tonight’s fight is a crossroads bout. A win by Valdez most certainly puts a bout against Navarrete back on for later this year. Lopez cannot afford a loss, but an impressive win would give Lopez another opportunity to put himself in world title contention.
“My last fight, I didn’t look too well,” said Lopez. “But I have a new coach since then. I’m now training with Eric Brown. He’s been in the game for a very long time. He’s brought the best out of me. First day of camp, he told me we were going to a dark place in this camp. And we went there. He pushed me more than anyone has pushed me. This is the best shape I’ve been in and I’m very confident.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for BoxingScene.com since September 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing