Rafael Espinoza faces Sergio Chirino in Las Vegas in June

Rafael Espinoza defends WBO featherweight title against Sergio Chirino at BleauLive Theater at Fontainebleau Las Vegas

Rafael Espinoza puts his WBO featherweight title on the line on Friday, June 21 when he faces Sergio Chirino at BleauLive Theater at Fontainebleau Las Vegas. The all-Mexican showdown serves as the main event live on ESPN+.

Undefeated Espinoza (24-0, 20 KOs) makes the first defense of his belt. The 30-year-old native of Guadalajara, Jalisco claimed the strap by majority decision against Robeisy Ramirez last December. The bout saw him going down in the fifth round and nearly stopping the defending champion in the final round.

“I’m excited to return to the ring,” Rafael Espinoza said. “I’m training very hard like always. I know that I’ll be facing a Mexican compatriot who is coming to win. I will be ready to defend my title with a lot of grit and heart. And that’s what I’ll do in the ring, fight with a lot of heart and win my first title defense.”

Once-beaten Chirino (22-1, 13 KOs) makes his first attempt to become champion, as well as the U.S. debut. Oaxaca’s 29-year-old TKO’d Dennis Contreras in the third round last time out in February.

“We Mexicans are known for having a lot of heart. And whenever there are two of us in the ring, it’s a battle,” Sergio Chirino said. “I’m happy for the opportunity, but at the same time, I know I’ve earned it. I’m coming for that belt. I have a lot of experience. There will be a problem in the ring, and that problem is Espinoza. But I will solve that problem and take home the victory.”

In the co-main event, undefeated Andres Cortes (21-0, 12 KOs) of North Las Vegas and Puerto Rico’s recent title challenger Abraham Nova (23-2, 16 KOs) battle it out at junior lightweight. In the main card opener, old rivals Troy Isley (12-0, 5 KOs) of Washington, D.C. and fellow-unbeaten Javier Martinez (10-0-1, 3 KOs) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin square off at middleweight.

Among the Espinoza vs Chirino prelims, Las Vegas native Floyd Diaz (11-0, 3 KOs) faces Francisco Pedroza (18-11-2, 10 KOs) of Mexico at bantamweight. Las Vegas’ Demler Zamora (12-0, 9 KOs) takes on Jose Antonio Meza (9-9, 2 KOs) of Mexico at junior lightweight. Steven Navarro (1-0, 1 KOs) of Los Angeles meets Juan Pablo Meza (7-3, 2 KOs) of Chile at junior bantamweight. Plus, Albert Gonzalez (8-0, 4 KOs) of Moreno Valley, California and Conrado S. Martinez (9-1) of Odessa, Texas clash at featherweight.

Parviz Iskenderov
Parviz Iskenderov is a former Muay Thai fighter, sports manager and editor at FIGHTMAG.

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