Featherweight titleholder Rafael Espinoza will make his first defense against Sergio Chirino at Fontainebleau Las Vegas in Las Vegas on June 21.

Espinoza (24-0, 20 KOs) earned his belt last December, upsetting Robeisy Ramirez in a Fight of the Year contender. Despite being knocked down in the fifth after taking an early lead, Espinoza rallied late and dropped Ramirez in the 12th before taking a majority decision.

“I’m excited to return to the ring,” 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.”

At 6-foot-1, Espinoza is the tallest world champion in featherweight history – a division that has included Mexican greats such as Ruben Olivares, Salvador Sanchez, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera.

Chirino (22-1, 13 KOs) went 9-0 before an early loss to eventual world titleholder Mauricio Lara in August 2018. Since then, he has remained unbeaten, winning decisions over Ally Mwerangi and Sebastian Tinoco Chavez before making his 2024 debut in February by stopping Dennis Contreras with a body shot in the third round.

Espinoza-Chirino will mark the 161st all-Mexican world title fight, including the 20th of its kind at featherweight.

“We Mexicans are known for having a lot of heart,” Chirino said. “And whenever there are two of us in the ring, it’s a battle. 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-feature, Andres Cortes will face Abraham Nova in a 10-round junior lightweight bout. Unbeaten middleweights Troy Isley (12-0, 5 KOs) and Javier Martinez (10-0-1, 3 KOs) will reignite a fierce amateur rivalry in their own 10-rounder to round out the top of the card, which will stream live in the U.S. on ESPN+ and on Sky Sports in the U.K. and Ireland.

“We’ve been on a collision course for a long time,” Nova (23-2, 16 KOs) said of Cortes. “It was eventually going to happen. Andres has been nipping at my heels for a while, calling me out and running his mouth at press conferences.”


“He thinks I’m his ticket to another title shot, but I am going to plant him on the canvas,” Cortes (21-0, 12 KOs) said of Nova. “I’m ready for a title shot, and nobody, especially not Nova, will stop me from achieving my dream.”


Also on the undercard:

Bantamweight prospect and Las Vegas native Floyd Diaz (11-0, 3 KOs) will make his second 2024 appearance in an eight-round tilt against Francisco Pedroza (18-11-2, 10 KOs).

Junior lightweight southpaw DJ Zamora (12-0, 9 KOs), also of Las Vegas, will face Jose Antonio Meza (9-9, 2 KOs) in an eight-round contest.

Junior bantamweight phenom Steven Navarro (1-0, 1 KO) will fight in a six-rounder against Juan Pablo Meza (7-3, 2 KOs). The 13-time U.S. national amateur champion entered the professional ranks by stopping Jose Lopez in six in April.


Albert Gonzalez (8-0, 4 KOs), a featherweight standout trained by Robert Garcia, will take on Conrado Martinez (9-1) in a six-rounder. Gonzalez will return after blasting out Joel Alberto Mora last month.

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