Luis Alberto Lopez talks Joet Gonzalez, Family & Future showdown with Robeisy Ramirez

The sport of boxing and its fans can change their opinion at a moment’s notice, and a fighter can go from a darling to yesterday’s news at a snap of a finger or a loss on your record. Although fighters say they ignore all that noise, they are human beings with emotions like the rest of us, so the short answer is that they do care. The great ones will use that to fuel their motivation to regain the glory they once had, while others will go down a road of subpar performance and eventual exit from the sport.

Enter IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto ‘Venado’ Lopez (28-2, 16 KOs), who suffered his first loss during his 13th fight in March 2018 against Abraham Montoya (21-5-1, 14 KOs). It could have been all over for him right then, or when he received his second loss to Ruben Villa (20-1, 7 KOs) a year later, but Lopez kept moving forward. Then, in 2021, he was presented with an opportunity to fight Gabriel Flores Jr. (22-2, 8 KOs), and what was supposed to be a showcase fight for Flores instead became a coming out party for Lopez. Lopez became a road warrior shortly after beating Josh Warrington in Leads for the IBF crown, followed by a massive victory over Michael Conlan in Belfast earlier this year.

Lopez is no longer a secret and holds the IBF crown at featherweight, so has he finally earned the respect he deserves? “I would hope I have the respect of the fans, as they have always shown me much love and appreciation. They have seen what I’ve done to get here. Boxing can sometimes be unforgiving, as one loss can turn those fans away from you. You can have twenty wins, but you lose one time, and everyone criticizes you about everything leading up to the fight, but that’s boxing,” the 30-year-old IBF champion told ProBoxTV.

Indeed, that is boxing, and as Lopez sacrificed his time by being away from his two boys, he has added even more incentive to keep winning with the recent birth of his new baby daughter.Being a champion can provide opportunities to care for your family, and Lopez is trying to make the best out of each—especially with “those little eyes watching me from behind,”  Lopez told me with a huge smile.  “It pushes me to make my dreams come true so my family can live better. I must win this second defense of my title as it is critical for my career. As a champion, I can’t lose, and I have to win for my family. I’m working extremely hard as I know the fight will be tough.”

Although Lopez often has those thoughts about caring for his family, he locks in when it’s time to get ready for a fight. Lopez has the rugged and durable Joet Gonzalez (26-3, 15 KOs) to get past on Friday night if he wants to advance to the bigger fights. According to Lopez, the training doesn’t change much with new opponents, but the strategy does, and he knows that Gonzalez will be in front of him throwing a ton of combinations and pressing the action. Lopez feels that he does everything that Gonzalez can do in the ring but at a higher level, which will be the difference in the fight.

Lopez has stated he wants to knock out Gonzalez, as no one has yet managed to prevent him from hearing the final bell. Shakur Stevenson nor Emanuel Navarrete could put away Gonzalez, but Lopez is convinced he can be the one to do it. Lopez told ProBoxTV, “It would be big for my career if I can knock someone out who has never been knocked out. Getting that on a weekend that is so important (Mexican Independence Day weekend) against that type of fighter would be a plus for my career.”

Yes, the fight is on Mexican Independence Day weekend—a holiday customarily reserved for the undisputed super middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez—but Canelo's fight at the end of the month against Jermell Charlo left an opportunity for Lopez to fight on the holiday weekend that he’s always dreamed of. “The opportunity was presented to us, and we took it, as that holiday is important to us Mexicans. Carrying the weight of fighting on that weekend, which has normally been reserved for Canelo Alvarez, will make me, as a champion, perform in a way where I leave no doubt that night.” Lopez continued, “When you put two Mexicans in the ring, spectacular things tend to happen. You know the fight is going to be a big collision. The fans are the ones that will come out winning.”

Lopez is aggressive in and out of the ring and wants to keep taking on the most significant challenges. One that awaits him is a potential unification fight against WBO champ Robeisy Ramirez (13-1, 8 KOs). It’s a fight that both men want along with their promotional company, Top Rank. If Lopez gets by Gonzalez on Friday night, we may get that fight next year. Lopez is aware of the possibilities, saying “The fight with Robeisy Ramirez is the one that makes the most sense. He wants the fight, and so do I. So send me a good contract when the time comes, and we can fight whenever.” That’s a big fight that awaits fans, but first tune into ESPN on Friday to see if Lopez gets by Gonzalez. Then the fans can start debating about Lopez vs. Ramirez.