Texan Alfonso Lopez (32-3, 25 KOs) takes on Gilberto Ramirez (40-0, 26 KOs)  of Mexico on Friday, Dec. 18 at the Galveston Island Convention Center in Galveston, TX. The bout, for Lopez's NABF light heavyweight belt, will be in front of a live audience and streamed on Fite TV PPV.

Ramirez, 29, held the WBO super middleweight title from 2016-2019 before vacating the belt to campaign at light heavyweight. Lopez's most high-profile fight was in 2011 when he lost a majority decision to former middleweight titleholder Kelly Pavlik.

"Obviously he's got the resume. He's the former world champion," said Lopez, 38. "But he's coming to Texas to my backyard. I do feel like the underdog but that's nothing new to me."

"I don't think it's a do or die but it is very important," Lopez added. "It is that opportunity that we've been working for. I've been promoting myself for a long time and this is the stage that we've been trying to get to. I won't say it's the last one but it's definitely very, very important."

Ramirez, a southpaw, will be coming off a 20-month layoff, the longest in his career.

"It's the longest time I've been out of the ring so this is the longest preparation I;ve had for a fight," Ramirez said. "I'm in great shape and I know Alfonso has also prepared well for this fight so we're going to give the fans a good show."

Lopez enlisted veteran trainer Juna Lopez (no relation) along with lefty sparring partners Samuel Clarkson and Felix Cora Jr. to prepare for the fight. He will be giving away two inches in height and nine years in age to Ramirez.

"To get the big upset, it'll take a lot of discipline and conditioning," Lopez said. "We're going to have to set a good pace and not get too jumpy and excited. It's going to be a boxing match, it's going to be a brawl but we have to remain patient and take our time, not rush in and not get hit with anything big."

The biggest name at 175 is obviously Saul "Canelo" Alvarez who dethroned Sergei Kovalev for an alphabet belt last with an explosive, sensational 11th-round KO last year. But Alvarez has been active in four separate divisions and has dropped down in weight to challenge Callum Smith for a 168-pound title the following day on Dec. 19. The three remaining alphabet belts at 175 at 175 belong to Artur Beterbiev and Dimitri Bivol, two fast-rising stars in the sport,

"All I have to do is impress myself and impress my fans. I don't see the point of impressing Canelo," Ramirez said. "I just have to go in the ring and do what I know what to do and use all my skills. I think (either Beterbiev or Bivol) is a good match for me. I think I have more skills than them. I have to prove myself first on December 18 and then I'll look forward to those guys."

Aspiring Promoters

Besides co-starring in the main event, Lopez and Ramirez will also be co-promoting the show via their respective companies El Tigre Promotions and Zurdo Promotions. Both fighters envision remaining in the sport as promoters after they've hung up their gloves.

"There's a lot of young talented fighters in Texas and Houston that need someone who can guide them and push them to the next level," Lopez said. "We put on good quality shows that the fans want to come to or want to tune in to, so I definitely see myself continuing to do it."

Ramirez was formally promoted by Top Rank but decided to start his own promotional outfit once his contract expired.

"It's been fun for me," Ramirez said. "I've been interested in being a promoter for a long time."

"I would like to help some fighters and that's why we created Zurdo Promotions - to make a lot of champions under Zurdo Ramirez. This is my chance to stay in boxing (post retirement).