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BOXING : After Insults, Lopez, Mitchell Will Trade Punches

Special to The Times

In a rematch of a disputed 12-round draw here on March 15, Tony Lopez of Sacramento will defend his International Boxing Federation junior lightweight title tonight against South African Brian Mitchell.

Since the two 130-pounders last met, Lopez, 28, has changed trainers and hired Evander Holyfield’s strength coach to improve endurance. Lopez faded in the second half of the March 15 fight.

Mitchell, 30, has lost the championship belt he once wore. Rather than make a mandatory defense for less money, he relinquished the World Boxing Assn. junior lightweight title to fight Lopez again.

Lopez (37-2-1, 25 knockouts) says he is avenging an insult to his mother by Mitchell (42-1-4, 20 knockouts) after their first bout.

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“If this fight goes 12 rounds, they will be the most painful he’s ever fought,” Lopez said of Mitchell.

Mitchell says Lopez is making too much of a minor incident and predicted: “Anger won’t help him in the ring.”

Featured in 10-round bouts on the undercard, which will be televised to a pay-per-view audience beginning at 7 p.m., are one current and three former champions. WBA welterweight champion Meldrick Taylor (27-1-1, 14 knockouts) has a nontitle bout against California champion Ernie Chavez (14-1, eight knockouts). In a matchup of former WBA welterweight champions who became junior middleweights, Mark Breland (30-2-1, 22 knockouts) faces Jorge Vaca (42-8-1, 34 knockouts).

An earlier 10-rounder will match former IBF junior lightweight champion John John Molina (24-3, 17 knockouts) against Rowdy Welch of Sacramento (13-1-1, five knockouts).

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