FightPost Boxer of the Week: Teofimo Lopez
By Gary Kittilsen
In what was boxing’s most anticipated fight since its return from the covid hiatus, Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez met up in the Bubble at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for undisputed supremacy of the lightweight division.
They did not disappoint, as two-champions went the distance in a high-speed chess match that became ultra combative in the final 5 rounds or so.
It was the prohibitive underdog, the 23-year-old Brooklyn, NY, Native that pulled the massive upset. Lopez was a +330 betting underdog but fought anything like it in capturing the 12-round unanimous decision over pound for pound elite and three-division world champ Vasiliy Lomachenko of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Ukraine.
To become the lineal and undisputed lightweight champion of the world, as well as moving his record to 16-0 (12) and capturing our Fighter of the Week award.
Traditional logic and the betting odds all suggested the same thing. If Lopez was going to beat Lomachenko he was going to have to stop him. No one foresaw a situation in which the 23-year-old could outbox Lomachenko, the master class technician.
However, that’s exactly what happened. in the early going Lopez was able to keep Lomachenko on his back foot and uncomfortable. Through the first seven rounds, Lomachenko landed just 31 total punches and no more than five in any single round.
The kid from Brooklyn was easily outboxing the master. One thing became clear Loma was desperately behind on the cards and needed to change things quickly.
Doing just that to start the eighth and bringing the fight to Lopez. He started firing off more combinations on the inside and staggering Lopez a few times with straight left hands. That success continued through the ninth and tenth, fighting himself back into the fight. Loma’s output and aggression culminated in the 11th.
A right-hook left-hand combination just thirty seconds into the round caught the attention of Lopez. Less than a minute later Lopez was hurt again, this time from a left to the body. The Ukrainian spent most of the second half of the eleventh gunning for the stoppage backing his man into the ropes, Loma continued pouring in left hands and mixing in body shots.
Lopez was noticeably hurt at the end of the round. With his lead on the cards, perhaps, shrinking and his opponent’s confidence rising going into the final round, Lopez responded like a true champion starting the final round as if he was shot out of a cannon.
Firing lead right hands and left hooks, he was not about to let the fight slip away. A lead rut uppercut form Lopez stopped Lomachenko in his tracks a minute into the round. Lopez seizing the moment fired away power shots, digging in with left hooks, he had again shifted the momentum of the fight and had his opponent badly hurt from a right hand to the body and left hook to the head with just over 30 seconds left.
Pouring on power shots, Lopez closed the show in impressive fashion to take a competitive by clear-cut unanimous decision by scores of 116-112, 117-111, and a much too wide 119-109.
Teofimo Lopez is emerging as the next big star of American boxing. Fortunately for boxing fans, he fights in the division with the most, young talent of any in the sport. Devin Haney, Gervonta Davis, Hector Tanajara, and Ryan Garcia are young, undefeated lightweights, and all of them would love a shot at the new lightweight kingpin in what would likely be a Pay Per View mega fight and massive payday.
However, Top Rank and ESPN will certainly want to make the rematch with Lomachenko and that will likely take precedence over any of those other matchups.
The other possibility is Lopez, who has long said that it’s not easy making 135 any longer, could realistically move up to 140, where he would again be on the right side of the promotional street. That division’s two world champs Jose Carlos Ramirez and Josh Taylor are both with Top Rank. Meaning a fight with either of those champions can easily be made. Lopez has a litany of very attractive options and with no rematch clause is in complete control of his own future.
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank