Commey vs Lopez only is Crawford in action on Saturday, but so are a pair of Top Rank Boxing’s best prospects in Teofimo Lopez and Michael Conlan. Lopez will be challenging Richard Commey for the IBF lightweight title in just his 15th professional fight while Conlan will be looking to end a grudge three years in the making. Let’s take a closer look at those fights.
Date: Dec. 14 | Start time: 9 p.m. ET
Location: Madison Square Garden — New York, New York
TV: ESPN | Stream: WatchESPN
compelling personality and shown the ability to go viral through things like busting out post-knockout Fortnite dances. He’s also a 22-year-old newlywed struggling with depression and panic attacks, a family feuding with his new wife, a father who has trained him through learning techniques via YouTube and who puts endless pressure on his son through his antics to the frustration of Lopez’s promoters. In his most recent fight, against Masayoshi Nakatani, Lopez looked far less than the impressive top-tier prospect he’d become known as, struggling with Nakatani’s height and jab while taking an ugly decision win. Now, he heads into a fight against a heavy-hitting champion with the kind of grit who can make a night hell on a young boxer.
Commey (29-2, 26 KOs) is a Ghanaian knockout artist. Pressure and power define him in the ring. He can shut out an opponent’s lights with either hand and will take a punch to deliver one of his own, a liability and a strength in his game. His two career losses came via split decision and he is a world traveler, having fought in his native Ghana, Russia, England, Denmark, Germany, South Africa and the U.S. The IBF lightweight champ is exactly the kind of fighter you want to see stand across from a young prospect like Lopez. He’s gritty and dangerous, not the type to fold to the pressure or hype. This fight has all the makings of a great battle and may be Saturday’s true main event. There are so many factors playing into the result in the ring, not to mention Lopez’s mental state outside of it, that it’s hard to get a read on the exact way this fight will play out. Prediction: Lopez via UD
Michael Conlan vs. Vladimir Nikitin: Conlan (12-0, 7 KOs) and Nikitin (3-0, 0 KOs) have history. Nikitin was handed a very controversial decision over Conlan at the 2016 Olympic Games, resulting on Conlan holding up two middle fingers in the ring and calling AIBA officials “f—ing cheats” in a profanity-laced post-fight interview. He quit amateur boxing after the decision and turned pro, being regarded as a legitimate prospect in the featherweight division. Nikitin has far less pro experience and there have been previous attempts to match the two as pros to allow Conlan a shot at righting the wrongs of the Olympics.