As junior middleweights Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara set out on the media tour this week to promote their July 12 Showtime PPV showdown at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, one of the televised undercard bouts has been set.
Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez, a former featherweight and junior featherweight titlist, will face Francisco Vargas of Mexico, Lopez promoter Peter Rivera, who has begun to work closely with Golden Boy, announced on Monday.
The fight will take place in the junior lightweight division and push the victor closer to a mandatory shot against titleholder Mikey Garcia, although he is likely to vacate the belt before he ever faces the winner.
The 30-year-old Lopez (34-3, 31 KOs) more or less resuscitated his career on March 15 by scoring a second-round knockout of former two-division titlist Daniel Ponce De Leon in their rematch. Lopez had also knocked Ponce De Leon out in the first round to win a junior featherweight title in 2008.
Vargas (19-0-1, 13 KOs), 29, has begun to step up his level of competition and has two solid wins in a row, 10-round decision victories against Jerry Belmontes, who lost a highly competitive decision to Omar Figueroa in a world title bout last month, and Abner Cotto, the cousin of Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto.
“It's another battle between Puerto Rico and Mexico and between two former Olympians,” said Rivera, nothing that Lopez represented Puerto Rico in the 2004 Olympics and Vargas was on the Mexican squad in 2008.
Both fighters will be on hand Friday at the fourth and final stop of the promotional tour in Carolina, Puerto Rico.