Teofimo Lopez says Vasyl Lomacheno fight possible for late 2019 or early 2020
By Chris Williams: Teofimo Lopez is chomping at the bit to fight Vasyl Lomachenko for his WBA/WBO lightweight titles in his next fight on April 20 on Top Rank Boxing at ESPN at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lopez says his promoters are working on a fight between him and Lomachenko for late this year or the start of 2020.
If the fight doesn’t happen, Lopez says he doesn’t care. He’s after the world champions. Lomachenko is only of importance to him if he’s fighting in the same division as him and holding a world title. For now, the two are both still at 135, and that makes the fight worth pursuing.
Lopez (12-0, 10 KOs) feels this is as good a time as any to challenge the 30-year-old Lomachenko for his belts. Lopez is moving up in weight to 140 in 2020, so he wants to fight Lomachenko or Mikey Garcia this year before he moves up in weight.
Once Teofimo goes up a weight class to 140, he wants the champions at that weight class, and he won’t be looking backwards to the guys that in the divisions he left behind.
“If it happens it happens. What we’re looking forward to is world titles,” Teofimo said to Max Kellerman in response to a question of whether he’s interested in fighting Vasyl Lomachenko. “What we’re looking forward to is the world titles. Who has a world title right now? Lomachenko has a world title. Richard Commey has a world title. Mikey Garcia has a world title, but he’s at 147 right now. We’re here to fight the world champions. It doesn’t matter who it is,” Teofimo said.
The problem that Teofimo has is Lomachenko calls the shots right now given that he’s the two belt champion at lightweight, and he’s on course to pick up a third title after he face IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey later this year. Lomachenko might use up the rest of this year waiting for the Commey fight before he looks in Teofimo’s direction for a fight against him. The rest of the boxing world doesn’t care too figs if Lomachenko wins all the lightweight titles, but he does. It’s important to Lomachenko that he captures all four of the belts at 135. The fans want to see Lomachenko fight guys that they care about ONLY, and that means they want to see him face Teofimo, Mikey Garcia, Luke Campbell and Devin Haney. The rest of the guys don’t count for much, and that includes Commey and Jose Pedraza.
The fans want to see Lomachenko fight talented guys that they’re familiar with, but he’s too dialed in with his attitude that he needs to all the titles in order for him to be recognized. Lomachenko still has that amateur fighter attitude in thinking that he needs to win titles for the boxing fans to care about him. Titles are meaningless nowadays. The things that count is being seen as a talented fighter by the fans, and fighting the best. That doesn’t mean necessarily fighting world champions, because many of the champions are weak fighters, who only won the titles because they fought guys that are worse than them.
“Lomachenko, I feel like he does the same thing over and over again when it comes to footwork, moving side to side,” Lopez said. There’s three or four ways to beat Lomachenko, but I can’t say [what those are]. I can fight him on April 20th. I am ready to fight him. There’s no reason to wait for a time frame or anything. If you’re a true champion, in order for me to say that I’m the best, you have to beat the best. Who is Lomachenko to me? He’s a small 135 pounder,” Teofimo said.
Lomachenko uses movement against guys that are a threat to him like Gary Russell Jr. If you saw the two of them face each other in 2014, Lomachenko was getting worked over by the faster, younger and more powerful Russell Jr. Lomachenko then started moving all around the ring, and using quick attacks, he was able to take over the fight and go on to win the fight. Lomachenko will likely use that same approach to his fight with Teofimo, because he can’t stand in front of him like he did against Miguel Marriaga, Nicholas Walters, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Jason Sosa and Jose Pedraza. Teofimo hits too hard for him to fight in that manner. To fight in that manner, Lomachenko has to sacrifice a certain amount of shots from his opponents in order to hit them enough with his high volume punch output for them to quit, which is his goal.
“I’m not going to wait for him,” Teofimo said about Lomachenko. “I told everybody this is my last year at 135 There’s already talks about it,” Lopez said about a fight between him and Lomachenko. “I still need to build a name. They still need to make the fight bigger. That fight could possibly be on pay-per-view. They’re saying maybe at the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020.”
Teofimo says he won’t wait for Lomachenko, but he clearly will. Teofimo says it himself that the fight with Lomachenko could take place at the start of next year. Teofimo has no other choice but to wait, because that’s the only big money fight Top Rank has for him in the near future. The only other big money fight that Top Rank has for Teofimo is a match against WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford. That’s not a fight that can happen quickly thought, because Teofimo needs to move up to 140, get acclimatized to that weight division, and then move up to 147 and do the same thing before finally challenging Crawford, if he’s still a champion by then. Teofimo says it could take years before he’s ready to fight Crawford at welterweight. As such, the only money fight that is out there for Lopez in his current weight class at lightweight is Lomachenko. WBC 135 lb champion Mikey Garcia isn’t likely to come back down right away to lightweight to defend his title in that weight class against Lopez. Most boxing fans feel that Mikey will give up his WBC title, and move to 140, which is a division that has suddenly caught fire after Crawford departed to fight at welterweight.
“The guy [Hugo Ruiz] was a last minute replacement [for Gervonta Davis]. I think Abner Mares would have given Gervonta Davis a better fight,” Teofimo said. “Is he [Tank Davis] like me? No. There are so many things we do differently than Gervonta Davis, but we don’t take anything away from the man. Let’s see what he can do against better competition,” Teofimo said.
Tank Davis, 24, was supposed to be defending his belt against former three division world champion Abner Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs), but he suffered detached retina and had to pull out of their February 9 fight at the Dignity Health Sports Park, in Carson, California. Former World Boxing Council super bantamweight champion Hugo Ruiz (39-5, 33 KOs) was bought in on short notice, and was promptly dispatched in the first round by Davis. The only thing you can blame Davis’ promoters for is picking a featherweight in Mares to fight in the first place, and then using a career super bantamweight fighter in Ruiz as the replacement instead of finding a super featherweight to step in.
“Absolutely not,” Teofimo said when asked if he thinks Gervonta Davis is a blue chip fighter. “No,” Teofimo said in response to the question of whether he viewed Miguel Berchelt as a blue-chip fighter.
Davis (21-0, 20 KOs) is a good fighter, but he’s not fought anyone yet at 126 and 130 for him to be considered to be a major star. Teofimo would like to fight Davis, but that fight is going to be extremely difficult to put together as long as the two are with different promoters. Davis is signed with Mayweather promotions, where as Teofimo is with Top Rank. Without either of those guys moving to the same promoter, it’s going to require both of them to become major pay-per-view stars for the fight to be one that can be made between them. Even then, it could take ages for the Tank Davis vs. Teofimo fight to get made