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Top Rank Presents World Title Doubleheader: Otabek Kholmatov vs. Raymond Ford Luis Alberto Lopez vs. Reiya Abe

PhilBoxing.com





Saturday, March 2, 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT
Live and Exclusively on ESPN+
ESPN+ Available on ESPN.com and ESPN App on Mobile and Connected TV Devices

(Feb. 28, 2024) —Top Rank Boxing on ESPN presented by AutoZone: Kholmatov vs. Ford will be presented live this Saturday, March 2, at approximately 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT, exclusively on ESPN+. The event takes place at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.

In the main event, Uzbek phenom Otabek Kholmatov will fight Raymond Ford for the vacant WBA featherweight world title. This duel of unbeaten southpaws will see the WBA’s No.1 and No. 2 contenders making their inaugural world title appearances.

Kholmatov (12-0, 11 KOs), a former international amateur champion, debuted as a pro in August 2021 and secured nine impressive victories before the year ended. Last March, Kholmatov traveled to enemy territory to battle undefeated British contender Thomas Patrick Ward. The Uzbek powerhouse dropped Ward three times, forcing his corner to throw in the towel in the fifth round.

Ford (14-0-1, 7 KOs) was a two-time national Golden Gloves champion before entering the paid ranks in March 2019. In fifteen pro fights, he has only had one blemish, a draw against then-unbeaten Aaron Perez in March 2021. Since then, the 24-year-old native of Camden, New Jersey, has gone 6-0 with three knockouts, including wins over undefeated prospects Edward Vazquez and Richard Medina, as well as a victory over former world champion Jessie Magdaleno.

In the co-feature, Luis Alberto “Venado” Lopez defends his IBF world crown against Japanese contender Reiya Abe.

Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs), the fighting pride of Mexicali, Mexico, captured the IBF strap by dethroning Josh Warrington in his hometown of Leeds, England, last December. In May, the 30-year-old traveled to Belfast and beat hometown hero Michael Conlan via fifth-round TKO. Lopez defended his title against division mainstay Joet Gonzalez, emerging victorious via unanimous decision after 12 hard-fought rounds in September.

Abe (25-3-1, 10 KOs), the IBF No. 1 featherweight contender, suffered a few early-career setbacks before a breakout performance against then-undefeated Ren Sasaki in October 2020. The 30-year-old southpaw is unbeaten in five bouts since the Sasaki triumph. He is coming off a points victory in a world title eliminator against former two-division world champion Kiko Martinez.

Undercard action, including the returns of Dominican Olympian Rohan Polanco (11-0, 7 KOs) and Nico Ali Walsh (9-1, 5 KOs), begins at 5:20 p.m. ET/ 2:20 p.m. PT.

Calling the action will be ESPN’s Joe Tessitore, Hall of Famer Timothy Bradley, Jr., Mark Kriegel, and Bernardo Osuna.

ESPN+: On Demand Shows, Archives & Premium Articles

• Top Rank: Real Time – All-access with top fighters throughout fight week as they work their way to fight night.
• Who Do U Fight 4? – Learn what drives the next generation of Top Rank stars.
• State of Boxing – Post-show coverage of the biggest fights on ESPN and ESPN+.
• Best of Boxing Spotlight – An archive of the all-time best Top Rank fights.

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