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Top Rank Announces Ford-Kholmatov And Lopez-Abe Headliners For March 2

Top Rank Announces Ford-Kholmatov And Lopez-Abe Headliners For March 2 featured image
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA - OCTOBER 28: Bob Arum, Promoter of Top Rank boxing looks on during the Heavyweight fight between Martin Bakole and Carlos Takam at Boulevard Hall on October 28, 2023 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Top Rank has arranged a double-header card for March 2 next year featuring two separate title fights at featherweight. Raymond Ford will battle Otabek Kholmatov for the vacant WBA featherweight title, and champion Luis Alberto Lopez is set to defend his IBF title against Reiya Abe. The event will take place at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York.

American contender Raymond Ford (14-0-1, 7 KO’s) and Uzbeki challenger Otabek Kholmatov (12-0, 11 KO’s) will fulfill their mandatory obligations to face each other after the WBA mandated the bout following Leigh Wood’s (28-3, 17 KO’s) relinquishment of the WBA title as he declared he would move up to fight at super featherweight. Both fighters will enter the ring with undefeated records, raising the stakes for their bout.

Mexican champion Luis Lopez (29-2, 16 KO’s) will defend his IBF featherweight title for the third time against Japanese challenger Reiya Abe (25-3-1, 10 KO’s), who will be competing in his first-ever world title fight.

The featherweight double-header sets up the prospect of the winners facing each other for a unification bout in the future, although this has not been confirmed. The matchmaking of two featherweight title fights as the main event suggests the possibility of a unification bout for the victors.

While oddsmakers consider the Ford-Kholmatov bout more of a 50/50 fight, Lopez is heavily favored in his match against Abe, with expectations that he will dominate his opponent based on the odds.

Top Rank will announce further complementing matches for the event at a later date.