Teofimo Lopez's next fight could put him one step closer to fighting for a world title.
Top Rank Boxing announced that Lopez will face Masayoshi Nakatani in an IBF lightweight title eliminator on July 19 at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland. The fight will headline a Top Rank card that will be streamed on ESPN+ in the United States.
Lopez, one of the fastest-rising stars in the lightweight division, is coming off a fifth-round knockout win over European champion Edis Tatli in the co-main event of the April 20 Top Rank on ESPN pay-per-view card from Madison Square Garden. The 21-year-old Lopez is currently ranked in the top five on all four major governing bodies and has beaten his last five opponents from inside the distance.
Nakatani, ranked No. 3 by the IBF at lightweight, is also unbeaten in the pro ranks enjoying a four-fight knockout streak of his own. Nakatani has held the OPBF lightweight title since 2014 and successfully defended the title 11 times, which stands as the current record for most title defenses under one reign in the title's long history stemming back to 1952.
The winner of Lopez vs. Nakatani will be the mandatory challenger to the IBF title being held by Richard Commey. Commey is set to defend his title against former lightweight champion Raymundo Beltran on a Top Rank on ESPN card on June 28.
Also announced for the card is Maxim Dadashev vs. Subriel Matias in an IBF junior welterweight title eliminator. The winner of the fight would become the mandatory challenger to the IBF title currently being held by Josh Taylor. Taylor won the title last month in the World Boxing Super Series semifinals and will now face WBA champion Regis Prograis in a unification bout in the tournament finals. That fight does not have a date or venue announced.