Big Day for Mexico: Luis Alberto "El Venado" Lopez vs Joet Gonzalez is ready to kick-start Mexican Independence Day Weekend

Check out the Press Conference Notes of "El Venado" Lopez and Joet Gonzalez Set to Kick Off Mexican Independence Day Weekend

Lopez-Gonzalez headlines a televised tripleheader live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ FRIDAY at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT


(Courtesy: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (Sept. 13, 2023) — Luis Alberto "El Venado" Lopez (28-2, 16 KOs) is ready to kick-start Mexican Independence Day weekend with the second defense of his world title.

Lopez will put his IBF featherweight world title on the line against two-time world title challenger Joet Gonzalez (26-3, 15 KOs) this Friday at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. 

In the 10-round junior middleweight co-feature, rising Puerto Rican sensation Xander Zayas (16-0, 10 KOs) faces Mexico’s Roberto Valenzuela Jr. (21-4, 20 KOs). In the six-round lightweight ESPN-televised opener, Emiliano Fernando Vargas (6-0, 5 KOs) steps up versus Spain's Alejandro Guardado (5-0, 1 KO).

Lopez-Gonzalez, Zayas-Valenzuela and Vargas-Guardado will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT

The ESPN+-streamed undercard (6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT) features Mexican standouts Omar Aguilar (25-1, 24 KOs) and Julio Luna (20-1-2, 11 KOs) in an eight-round welterweight tilt.

Corpus Christi native John Rincon (7-0, 2 KOs) takes on Puerto Rico's Bryan Ismael Rodriguez Rivera (4-1-1, 2 KOs) in a six-round welterweight clash, and Jamaine Ortiz (16-1-1, 8 KOs) fights Antonio Moran (29-5-1, 20 KOs) in his first fight since last year's valiant effort against Vasiliy Lomachenko.

Former world title challenger Ruben Villa (20-1, 7 KOs) will look to notch his second win of the year in an eight-round featherweight battle against Brandon Valdes (15-3, 7 KOs), while U.S. Olympian Tiger Johnson (9-0, 5 KOs) makes his third appearance of 2023 in an eight-round junior welterweight fight against Ricardo Quiroz (13-2, 7 KOs).

Promoted by Top Rank, tickets starting at $30 are on sale now via Ticketmaster.com.

At Wednesday's press conference, this is what the fighters had to say.

Luis Alberto Lopez

 “I am happy to fight on an important date for Mexico where Joet Gonzalez and I will be representing our country. We are going to present a real war that night.”

 “I respect him because he has had great fights. He has done a great job in his career. But you know that when we get in the ring there is no respect. I am going to take this belt home for my family and for Mexico.”

 “It’s going to be a total war. When there are two hungry Mexicans in the ring, they always go at it with everything. We know that Joet Gonzalez is tough. And my goal, as I’ve said, is to knock him out.”

 “We are ready as always. I am a fighter who knows how to give exciting fights. I am a warrior who goes forward. They know that when ‘El Venado’ gets in the ring, there will be a great show.”

 Joet Gonzalez

 “This is my third {world title} opportunity. I’m truly grateful. I’ve worked really hard every single time. And every time I step into the ring, I give it my all. I’ve got to win.”

 “I’ve always trained hard. I’ve never taken any shortcuts. I’ve always put in the hard work in the gym. But sometimes it’s not your night. It is what it is. But I’m still here, and I’m going to give it my all every time.”

 “I’m expecting a great fight. It’s a big day for Mexico. All I have to do is win and become the new IBF world champion. Plain and simple. I can’t go home empty-handed. I’m bringing that belt back home.”

 Xander Zayas

 “It’s been a great journey. I’m 16 fights in. I’ve been growing. I’ve been learning. I’ve been getting better in and outside of the ring. And I’m excited to put on a show this Saturday night.”

 "We’ve been training for the last three or four fights for a ten-rounder. Now I get the opportunity, and I’m going to take advantage of it. I’m facing a Mexican warrior who is ready to put on a show."

"He has a lot of things behind him. Mexican Independence Day is the day after. His family is here with him. He’s probably going to have the crowd behind him. But I’m excited to put on a show and win over the crowd.” 

Roberto Valenzuela Jr.

 “It is a very important date for me and for Mexico. So, we will do our best to get a good result. This is my opportunity to let everyone know who Roberto Valenzuela is.”

 “We have been studying him. He is a great boxer. He actually doesn't have many flaws. But I believe that my hunger to win and move forward in my career is going to be the difference. I know that if I win this fight, we will be on the path to very big fights;.”

 Omar Aguilar

 “I feel very excited and happy. It is a great date for Mexico and for boxing. So I feel honored to fight on these dates, and what better way to do it than with these people around me? I'm going to give my best in the ring."

 “I learned a lot against Lindolfo Delgado. I matured with that fight. It was a very interesting fight. I hope to take all the experience that I’ve gained and apply in this fight. We are ready."

 Julio Luna

 “I've come very well prepared, whether it lasts eight rounds or if it ends before. If it ends earlier, even better. But I’ve come prepared either way. Whenever two Mexicans get into the same ring, it is a guaranteed war. I think this will not be the exception.”

 "The fight with Giovani Santillán gave me a lot of experience. And now I'm trying to get rid of that thorn in my side. I was not happy with that decision, and now I am grateful for this second opportunity.”

 Emiliano Fernando Vargas

 “It’s a blessing to be here. It’s a great opportunity for me to bring that excitement back to Corpus Christi. It’s definitely something special for me and my father. He fought here, and now I’m fighting here almost 20 years later. It’s very special for us.”

 “I’m insanely excited to make my ESPN debut. This is definitely a step up with the opponent I have. It’s only going to make it more of a show. The best comes out of me when I’m facing better opposition. At the end of the day, to get to that world championship level where I know I can compete at and dominate, I’ve got to get through the Spaniard come Friday.”

 John Rincon

 “I’ve been dreaming for a moment like this since I was a kid. I’m finally here. The hard work is done. Friday night I’m going to put on a great show. I’ll see you all then.”

Friday, September 15
ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT)

Luis Alberto Lopez vs. Joet Gonzalez, 12 rounds, Lopez's IBF Featherweight World Title 

Xander Zayas vs. Roberto Valenzuela Jr., 10 rounds, Zayas' NABO/NABF Junior Middleweight Titles

Emiliano Fernando Vargas vs. Alejandro Guardado, 6 rounds, Lightweights

ESPN+ (6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT) 

 Omar Aguilar vs. Julio Luna, 8 rounds, Vacant WBC USA Welterweight Title 

 John Rincon vs. Bryan Ismael Rodriguez Rivera, 6 rounds, Welterweights 

Jamaine Ortiz vs. Antonio Moran, 10 Rounds, Junior Welterweights

Ruben Villa vs. Brandon Valdes, 8 rounds, Featherweights 

Tiger Johnson vs. Ricardo Quiroz, 8 rounds, Junior Welterweights 

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