Lomachenko vs Lopez: A Star Is Born
It would be a shame if through all the smoke and mirrors surrounding the fight on Saturday night, that we forget what the winner did in that fight.
For all the talk about what Vasyl Lomachenko did or didn’t do, and the ridiculous claims that he was always overrated and even that he got exposed, or even the nonsensical scoring debate, we shouldn’t forget what Teofimo Lopez did do.
Whatever debate there is about the official margin of victory, Lopez won, there is no controversy there was no doubt. The new unified champion threw more and landed more. Lomachenko, like Marvelous Marvin Hagler, found all those years ago, if you leave it too late, the chase becomes impossible. Like Hagler did against Sugar Ray Leonard, Lomachenko protested the decision, Hagler had the stronger argument.
Lomachenko (14-2) had his moments, but not enough of them. 119-109 and 117-111 looked too wide, 116-112 a little closer to reality.
In an era of avoidance, Lopez dared to enter a world many thought he had no right to be in. Lopez now 16-0, ignored, he believed and dared to risk. It wasn’t too soon for him, it wasn’t too much of a reach, Lopez gambled and won.
The fight always had that feeling that there was something in the air. There were signs in the Luke Campbell fight, that Lomachenko, might not be the formidable fighting machine of old. Add in a 14-month lay-off, the upset was always simmering just below the surface.
Lomachenko wasn’t a faded fighter, just one that gave anyone predicting a Lopez win, a glimmer of hope.
Lopez didn’t freeze under the lights or diminish because of the calibre of opponent in front of him, he just fought his fight.
Both fighters deserve credit, each could have taken a different path and a much easier one.
Lopez added Loma’s WBA, WBC ‘franchise’ and WBO titles to the IBF belt he already held, and at 23, more belts will surely follow.
Lomachenko the supreme competitor will seek the rematch, but Lopez may have other ideas. Does he want to repeat what he did on Saturday night, and in the process boil his body back down to lightweight again, or does he move up seeking fresh challenges, the latter seems more likely. Devin Haney has already been targeted.
With no rematch clause in place, Lomachenko might have to wait and hope.
The MGM Grand in Las Vegas didn’t witness the demise of a great champion, it saw the crowning of a potential superstar. Lomachenko will come again, the question is where. He didn’t get exposed, he just got beat, by a very good fighter.
Even though Lomachenko has lost before, he still had that aura about him. The defeat on Saturday has dimmed his reputation if not extinguished it, but future opponents will now carry more belief and conviction that they can replicate what Lopez did.
The fight deserved better, having no crowd took something away, as it has done in every sport since sport started back in the new normality. Even taking into account the current pandemic budget restrictions, the fact that no major British TV outlet picked up the fight is baffling and worrying. If a fight of this magnitude isn’t deemed worthy, then what is.
For Lopez, it was in many ways his coming out party, an old-fashioned mentality of chasing greatness rather than protecting his record.
“You go to fight those guys where people don’t think you’ll win,” Lopez said post-fight, if only more fighters felt the same.
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank