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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Williams

Top Rank To Host Double Featherweight Title Fights on March 2nd; Kholmatov-Ford, Lopez-Abe

Press Conference:


The featherweight division will take center stage in a high-octane world title doubleheader on Saturday, March 2 at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. 


In the main event, Uzbek phenom Otabek Kholmatov will fight Raymond Ford for the vacant WBA featherweight world title. This duel of unbeaten southpaws will see the WBA’s No.1 and No. 2 contenders making their inaugural world title appearances. 


In the co-feature, Luis Alberto “El Venado” Lopez defends his IBF world crown against Japanese contender Reiya Abe


Kholmatov-Ford & Lopez-Abe will headline a stacked card streaming live and exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+.


Ford (14-0-1, 7 KOs) was a two-time national Golden Gloves champion before entering the paid ranks in March 2019. In 15 pro fights, he has only had one blemish, a draw against then-unbeaten Aaron Perez in March 2021. Since then, the 24-year-old native of Camden, New Jersey, has gone 6-0 with three knockouts, including wins over undefeated prospects Edward Vazquez and Richard Medina, as well as a victory over former world champion Jessie Magdaleno. Ford dropped Magdaleno twice en route to a 12-round decision win.

Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs), the fighting pride of Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, captured the IBF strap by dethroning Josh Warrington in his hometown of Leeds, England, last December. In May, the 30-year-old traveled to Belfast and beat hometown hero Michael Conlan via fifth-round TKO. Lopez defended his title against division mainstay Joet Gonzalez, emerging victorious via unanimous decision after 12 hard-fought rounds in September. 


 Abe (25-3-1, 10 KOs), the IBF No. 1 featherweight contender, suffered a few early-career setbacks before a breakout performance against then-undefeated Ren Sasaki in October 2020. The 30-year-old southpaw is unbeaten in five bouts since the Sasaki triumph. Abe captured his first regional title with a decision win over Hinata Maruta in May 2022 and defended it against Jinki Maeda seven months later. He is coming off a points victory in a world title eliminator against former two-division world champion Kiko Martinez. 



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