Luis Alberto Lopez, the reigning IBF featherweight world champion, found himself on the clock for a mandatory title defense against a lesser-known number-one contender Reiya Abe, and that goes against what his team hopes is next for his career. It was widely reported earlier this week that Lopez, better known by his nickname, Venado, meaning deer in Spanish, was lobbying the IBF to be able to make a voluntary defense as he seeks to unify with the WBO featherweight champion Robeisy Ramirez.
ProBox TV News recently spoke to Hector Fernandez, Lopez's manager, who gave us further information on the letter he sent this week to IBF president Daryl Peoples this week and the reasoning behind it.
“As you know as a world champion you get two optional fights then you get a mandatory fight,” explained Fernandez about his letter to the IBF. “[Our] two optional fights were Michael Conlan, which wasn’t an optional, it was a must-take by Top Rank, because that was their star, and then our second optional wasn’t an optional it was Joet Gonzalez to release Robeisy Ramirez from his mandatory duties. Now what we want to do as an optional is a unification [fight]. So [I] sent the IBF a letter stating that Venado Lopez and his team wanted to pursue an opportunity to unify the belts WBO and IBF if they could grant us permission instead of taking the mandatory next.”
Fernandez furthered that Lopez is tired of the antics of Ramirez and eagerly awaits making a fight with him. As it appears Lopez's team is not too keen on Ramirez.
“Venado basically got tired of all the whining from Robeisy Ramirez,” told Fernandez to ProBox TV News. “[Ramirez] keeps on begging for a fight, he is not asking he is begging for a fight. Every single time Venado fights [or] posts something, Robeisy is right there, and always talking crap, always talking smack. Calling out Venado saying he is afraid of him.”
Lopez who recently defeated Joet Gonzalez has been a road warrior his whole career. Dating back to his upset stoppage win over Cristian Baez, a former Golden Boy Promotions prospect, a bout contested at lightweight.
Lopez, hailing from Mexicali, holds wins over the likes of Gabriel Flores Jr., Cristian Baez, and Andy Vences from ‘the b-side’, only to go overseas defeat Isaac Lowe, win the world title off Josh Warrington, and stop Michael Conlan. Lopez’s story should be one of a hard-fought journeyman being matched up to lose, but he defied the system. Now he looks to become a fighter with a potential ceiling of being a hall-of-fame fighter, as he has now made consecutive world title defenses.
“Just look at the resumes,” said Fernandez when comparing Lopez’s professional career to Ramirez’s. “Yes, amateur resume Robeisy has [the more decorated career] and more successful resume, but then look at the pro resume. Who has Robeisy fought? Abraham Nova, who hasn’t won [expletive]. Isaac Dogboe who is a natural 122 lber with only one speed?”
Fernandez voiced a bit of frustration as he made it clear that after a hard road to a world title Lopez is being put through the gauntlet to stay atop.
“Then when we wanted to take a tune-up fight [so Lopez could recover from an injury] in the left hand, they give us Joet Gonzalez as a tune-up,” said Fernandez. “Everyone knows that is not a tune-up. That is a guy who no one has ever put down. He always keeps coming forward, and he was Robeisy Ramirez’s mandatory. Now Robeisy doesn’t have a mandatory [and Robeisy] is going to fight a Mexican kid who has never fought outside of Tijuana.”
Ramirez is rumored to return on November 4th in Lake Tahoe, NV, against Rafael Espinoza, which was first reported by Keith Idec of BoxingScene.com. Fernandez and the Lopez team seemingly love going back to the underdog mentality that gave them so much success early on. As Fernandez confessed some of the obligations from the a-side of the card limited their ability to train and was unfamiliar. A bout with Ramirez offers them the past role they covet being the underdog.
“Robeisy Ramirez became an attractive option to us because everyone has Venado Lopez as an underdog,” said Fernandez. “Even after the fight with Joet Gonzalez, where Venado didn’t look very good, people don’t know what happened before the fight. Let’s just say he almost had an accident on international television. That being said, Venado looked at me and said ‘damn, I look better when I am the b-side. Let’s just keep on getting on the b-side.' We actually asked Top Rank to make the fight against Robeisy this December in Miami.”