Boxing fans can rise and shine to a world title doubleheader on ESPN+ on Friday morning.
Top Rank on Monday night finalized a deal with Teiken Promotions to acquire the American rights to the card headlined by Japanese star Naoya "Monster" Inoue, who will move up in weight to go for a world title in his third weight class when he challenges secondary bantamweight titlist Jamie McDonnell at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.
The live stream of the card will begin on ESPN+ at 7 a.m. ET and will also include the rematch between junior flyweight world titleholder Ken Shiro and former titlist Ganigan Lopez.
"In the short time since its launch [on April 12], ESPN+ is becoming a wonderful platform to see world-class global fighters at all different hours of the day," Top Rank president Todd duBoef told ESPN. "Friday's event is another step we are taking toward bringing compelling world-class boxing to the ESPN platforms."
Inoue (15-0, 13 KOs), 24, one of Japan's most gifted fighters, won a junior flyweight world title in his sixth fight in 2014 and then won a second world title at junior bantamweight in his eighth fight later that year. Inoue defended the title seven times before vacating it earlier this year to move up in weight again for a shot at McDonnell (29-2-1, 13 KOs), 31, of England, who will be making his seventh defense since claiming the 118-pound belt in 2014.
"I know McDonnell is a strong champion with his good height and good record," said Inoue, who is 5-foot-5 to McDonnell's 5-10. "I'd like to prepare well in order to win my third championship."
Shiro (12-0, 6 KOs), 26, of Japan, won a majority decision against Lopez in May 2017 in Tokyo to claim a 108-pound world title. He has made two title defenses and now will face Lopez (29-7, 18 KOs), 36, of Mexico, in a mandatory rematch. In the first fight, two judges awarded Shiro the decision with scores of 115-113 and the third judge had it 144-114. Lopez said he was prepared for another tough fight.
"I am in better physical condition with no problem with the weight," said Lopez, who will be fighting in Japan for the fourth time. "I have been frequently watching the video of my first fight with Ken Shiro. I'm sure that I can do things so much better in the rematch, capitalizing on the opportunity to defeat him in a clearer way."