Mikey Garcia Juan Manuel LopezThe WBO Featherweight Championship will be at stake on Saturday, June 15 when champion Mikey Garcia attempts to defend it against Juan Manuel Lopez in Dallas, Texas.

The 25-year-old Garcia of California will enter the ring with his undefeated record of 31-0 along with 26 KOs while the 29-year-old southpaw Lopez from Puerto Rico has a 33-2 mark with 30 KOs.

Garcia won the title last year against Orlando Salido when he beat him down decisively. The bout was stopped in the eighth round with Garcia taking it on a technical decision after his nose was broken by an accidental headbutt. He knocked Salido to the canvas four times in the fight. This is his first defense of the belt, and it comes against a former two-division champion in Lopez.

Lopez also fought Salido and lost his title to him by TKO in April 2011. He also lost a rematch to him by TKO a year later. Since then, he’s won three in a row and has now earned another title shot.

Lopez really needs a win here if he hopes to vault himself back to the elite level. A loss wouldn’t end his career, but it could certainly be the last title shot he gets for quite some time. It’s an important test for him and one he needs to pass to prove he’s still among the best in the world.

Garcia and Lopez both have a lot of power in their fists, but they’re also skilled boxers. They’re about equal when to comes to hand speed with Lopez having the edge in experience. Garcia has a big edge defensively since Lopez doesn’t mind getting into brawls and is relatively easy to hit. Garcia also has the better chin.

Lopez throws more punches and this is an area the champion needs to improve on if he hopes to match Lopez’s output and activity. They’re both aggressive fighters who will come into the ring in great shape.

Garcia seems to be the better all-round boxer and he has all of the tools needed to become one of the top pond-for-pound competitors in all of boxing.

He beat Bernabe Concepcion, Mauricio Pastrana and Jonathan Victor Barros last year before beating Salido in January. He knocked out eight opponents in a row before meeting Salido. Garcia’s a smart boxer who likes to fight from the outside and control the pace.

Lopez is used to going toe-to-toe, but he might want to think twice before trying that tactic with Garcia. He can’t really go looking for a knockout here and will have to let it take place naturally if he has the chance. He still needs to be aggressive though and throw as many punches as he usually does. He’ll need to keep his chin tucked down and throw fast flurries before moving away.

This fight will depend on Lopez’s tactics. If he wants to slug it out, he’s likely to get stopped. He needs to use his boxing skills and keep his chin down. Garcia doesn’t overwhelm his opponents as he chooses to pick his spots, but Lopez can’t afford to stand still. Lopez needs to be mobile and present different angles to the champion.

Lopez is more aggressive by nature and he could put some rounds in the bank by being the busier of the two. But since Garcia is the more polished boxer, look for him to take this by a relatively close decision or a late stoppage.

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