Adam Lopez says he won’t get into a ‘dogfight’ with Dogboe
One of the best matchups taking place on a loaded Saturday is a featherweight bout featuring up-and-comer Adam Lopez and former 122-pound beltholder Isaac Dogboe on the Naoya Inoue-Michael Dasmarinas undercard on Saturday at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas.
The scheduled 10-rounder will be part of the ESPN/ESPN+ broadcast (6:30 p.m. ET start time for the ESPN+ undercard / 10 p.m. ET for ESPN telecast).
Dogboe (21-2, 15 KOs), an aggressive boxer-puncher from Ghana, has the edge in experience with impressive stoppage victories against Cesar Juarez (TKO 5) and Jessie Magdaleno (KO 11), which kicked off a brief reign as WBO titleholder.
Lopez (15-2, 6 KOs), a hardnosed technician from Southern California, has a significant edge in height and reach over the 5-foot-4 Dogboe – if he chooses to use those physical advantages.
The 25-year-old son of former lightweight/junior welterweight contender Hector Lopez told The Ring that his mind is set on outboxing and outclassing Dogboe.
“My gameplan is to frustrate him,” Lopez told The Ring prior to a workout in Lake Balboa, California last week. “I’m going to work my jab because we know he has a hard time with long (rangy) fighters, as he lost to (Emanuel) Navarrete, so I’m going to give him a lot of jabs, up and down, to his chest, to his shoulders, to his stomach. (I’m just going to) jab him for about six rounds, break him down, make him miss a lot, get him frustrated and once he gets there then he’s going to get desperate and start winging shots. Once he starts winging shots, I’ve got him where I want him, and I can start running him into big shots.”
Lopez mentioned Emanuel Navarrete, the current WBO featherweight titleholder, who is the only pro fighter to have beaten Dogboe – first by unanimous decision in 2018 and then via 12th-round stoppage in 2019. Navarrete, The Ring’s No. 2-rated featherweight, is tall and rangy like Lopez, but he has an awkward pressure-fighting, volume-punching style.
That’s not Lopez’s style, but his mentality – some of which may have been passed down from his father, who could box beautifully but never backed down from a dogfight (in or out of the ring) – sometimes swings toward the warrior end of the boxing spectrum.
Lopez admits that his willingness to stand and trade, and his zeal to score a knockout, made his last two bouts – close 10-round majority decisions over Luis Coria and Jason Sanchez – a lot harder than they should have been.
“The Coria fight, which was last June, was definitely tougher than I expected and (both were) tougher than they should have been,” Lopez said. “But they were both learning experiences, especially my last fight (vs. Sanchez).
“It was on me why it was so close. I’ve learned from it, and I understand why it was so close. I put a lot of pressure on myself wanting to get a stoppage. I called for it, I said ‘I’m going to stop this kid,’ because no one had ever done that to Sanchez, and I wanted to be the first. So, I was forcing a lot of shots, I was very stiff, and just worrying about power shots.
“That’s not the type of fighter I am. I’ve never been the type of fighter to just walk you down and muscle you out. I’ve always been kind of a finesse fighter, light on my feet, and I work well off my rhythm. When I’m in my groove and putting my shots together in rhythm, that’s when I’ve scored knockdowns and knockouts.
“After the fourth round (vs. Sanchez), I wasn’t feeling good, and I started having a conversation with myself, in my head. I was like ‘Yo, what are you doing? Let’s get back to what we normally do.’ I shook it off. I relaxed and started bouncing on my feet and got back to my jab, and after that it was pretty easy.
“I feel like that right there is how I need to start (the Dogboe) fight from Round 1 to Round 10.”
Easier said than done. Dogboe, 26, is only a year older than Lopez and still hungry for another shot at a world title. The Ghanaian will likely bring the ruckus on Saturday and Lopez is prepared for relentless pressure having sparred with ultra-aggressive Ring-rated junior featherweight Azat Hovhannisyan and bantamweight prospect John “Scrappy” Ramirez (5-0, 4 KOs), but Lopez suspects that Dogboe might take a more tactical approach under the guidance of new coach Barry Hunter.
“Hunter has calmed him down a little bit,” Lopez said. “(Dogboe) is less of a bulldozer and trying to pick his shots and use a jab. Hunter’s definitely slowed him down a bit and I think that’s to my advantage. If he gives me time to think, he’s going to give me time to set up my shots and let me get in my rhythm. I feel like his best weapon against me is his pressure, trying to crowd me and not let me get the space for my shots. But if he takes his time and tries to box, I don’t think he’s going to have any success.
“I don’t think he can box with me. He’s going to have to make it a dogfight, and that’s what I’m going to avoid.”
What he’s not going to avoid is a title shot as soon as possible. Despite the struggles with Coria and Sanchez, Lopez thinks he’s almost ready; in part because, like Dogboe, his only losses are to current world titleholders.
In his ninth pro bout (and his first eight rounder), Lopez dropped a majority decision to unbeaten WBO 122-pound titleholder Stephen Fulton, The Ring’s No. 3-rated junior featherweight; and in a breakout performance in November 2019, he took on undefeated Oscar Valdez on one day’s notice, dropping the former featherweight beltholder before being halted in Round 7. Valdez, who was making his 130-pound debut (after Lopez weighed in at 126 pounds), went on to knockout heavily favored Miguel Berchelt in February, winning the WBC title and jumping to No. 2 in The Ring’s junior lightweight rankings.
“If I shine against Dogboe I think there’s a reason to fight for title or be in line for a title shot within a fight or two,” he said. “Fulton’s hot right now. Valdez is hot right now. I learned a lot fighting them. Those bouts made me better. I’m almost ready, and if I fight either of them again, they’re not going to beat me twice.
“And word is that Navarette might move up to 130 pounds soon. If that’s true, we’ll target the vacant WBO title. If he stays at 126 pounds, I’d love to fight him.”