Josesito Lopez set for return on FNF

Former world title challenger Josesito Lopez headlines a special Thursday edition of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" in a 10-round junior welterweight bout.

Lopez (31-6, 18 KOs), who moves back down to 140 pounds after a four-fight run at welterweight and above, faces Aron Martinez (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET) at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort and Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Known for taking on difficult challenges in recent years against household names like Victor Ortiz, Canelo Alvarez and Marcos Maidana, Lopez enters the bout fresh off a victory over Mike Arnaoutis last December. "The Riverside Rocky" is best known for his most memorable victory, when he broke the jaw of the heavy favorite Ortiz in June 2012, which launched him into the junior middleweight title bout against Alvarez.

Lopez, who essentially moved up two weight classes to face Alvarez, was stopped in the fifth round despite showing plenty of courage. He also gave Maidana all he could handle in an another all-action bout before falling by stoppage in Round 6.

In Martinez (19-2-1, 4 KOs), Lopez faces a tough fighter who has been in the ring with the likes of Prenice Brewer, Jessie Vargas and Joseph Elegele. The bout will be Martinez's first since a unanimous decision over Alberto Herrera in April 2013.

"Every fight comes with a challenging opponent; Martinez is no different," Lopez said. "He comes to fight and I'm sure I'm going to get his best. I have a lot of respect for anyone that steps into the ring. He's looking to inflict damage on me, and I plan to do the same to him."

Martinez likes to work from a distance, move laterally and surprise his opponent with quick combinations of straight lefts inside and right hands to the outside. He has good defense and avoids a lot of punches with movement. His biggest problem is his lack of firepower, which is reflected in his low knockout percentage. He has managed to knock his opponents out in just four of his 19 victories.

"If [Lopez] wants to bring it, I'll be ready for that," Martinez said. "If he wants to box, we can box, too. I'm sure he's going to try to take me out and he's going to be surprised when he finds out he won't be able to do that."

Lopez employs a much more aggressive style with power in both hands. Look for him to exert early pressure on Martinez and set the pace with his jab, powerful combinations and hooks to the body at close distance.

"People watching at home on ESPN and those in attendance are going to get treated to an excellent fight," Lopez said. "We're both exciting boxers that like to move forward. It's a shame that one of us has to lose, but it won't be me though."

In the co-main event, unbeaten Thomas Williams Jr. (16-0, 11 KOs) squares off with veteran Enrique Ornelas (34-8, 22 KOs) in a 10-round light heavyweight bout.