By Chris Williams: Teofimo Lopez (12-0, 10 KOs) sees age and the wear & tear of a long amateur career of 400 fights starting to show their effects on Vasiliy Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs) with him suffering bad injuries, and no longer looking like the fighter he was a few years ago.
Looking frustrated, Lopez says he’s given Top Rank an ultimatum of either matching him with the 31-year-old Lomachenko by January of 2020 or they can forget about it. Lopez says the only way he’ll fight the two-time Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko after next January is if the fight takes place at a catch-weight. Lomachenko would likely never agree to a catch-weight, so it’s possible those two won’t ever fight if it doesn’t take place by next January.
Lopez says he views Lomachenko as an old lion, who doesn’t want to fight the young hungry lion like himself. Lopez says he won’t be surprised in the least if Lomachenko dashes back down to super featherweight in 2020 without fighting him.
“I told Bob [Arum]…I think they [Top Rank] want to push the fight with Lomachenko to early next year. I gave them this whole year. If you want to push it to like March, I’m not taking the fight,” Lopez said to Fighthype about him wanting the fight with Lomachenko either in 2019 or no later than January of 2020. “We could fight, but it would be at a catch-weight. I’m not going to wait. I’ll be stronger there than I am now. These guys are too scared when they get in the ring with Loma,” Lopez said.
So there it is. Lomachenko and Top Rank can forget about a fight against Teofimo if they push the fight to next March, because the Brooklyn, New York native WON’T take the fight at that point. He says his body is growing and wants to go up to 140 already. Lopez is artificially keeping his weight down at 135 for now for the remainder of 2019 in order to pick up titles against IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey in July, and then hopefully WBA/WBO champion Lomachenko in December or January. But after that, Lopez is shooting up to light welterweight to go after the strap holders in that weight division. As for Lomachenko and Commey, Lopez says they’re both merely “borrowing” the lightweight titles from him for the time being until he faces them and takes his belts. Lopez sees the lightweight titles as his own belts. Besides Lomachenko and Commey at 135, Lopez wants to fight WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs), who he described as “Horrible” in his most recent performance in losing to IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. (25-0, 21 KOs) on March 16 on Fox Sports PPV at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Teofimo, 21, says he’ll take the fight against Mikey if he moves back down to 135 to defend his WBC belt. If not, then Teofimo wants to fight #1 WBC Luke Campbell for the vacant World Boxing Council lightweight title once Mikey vacates it or is stripped of it by the sanctioning body. Lopez vs. Campbell for the vacant WBC title would actually be a much bigger fight than Lopez-Commey for the IBF strap. Some boxing fans believe the WBC is the most prestigious of the world titles. If Lopez can get the WBC strap in beating Campbell, then he would have the bait needed to fight Lomachenko in a unification fight. Lopez says Lomachenko told him that he wouldn’t fight him unless he has a world title in his possession. That’s all Lomachenko cares about at lightweight, that and making sure he keeps his WBA/WBO belts by fighting his mandatory challengers, which is what he’s doing this Friday night in defending against his WBA mandatory Anthony Crolla at on ESPN+ at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
“I told my father that we can’t really talk about Loma, because this dumb ass thinks we’re using his name for clout,” Lopez said. “People didn’t start talking about it now until we started talking about it [Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez fight]. Now people want to see the fight. If anything, you should thank me, Loma, because I’m helping you. I’m not here to clout chase. I don’t need Loma, to be honest with you. I don’t really care about Lomachenko. Yes, I’m ready to fight. I’m ready to fight anybody that has my titles. That’s my title. He’s just holding it. What he’s doing right now is just borrowing it. I get it. That’s the old lion,” Lopez said about Lomachenko being an old lion now, who doesn’t want to fight the young lions. “I’m the young, hungry lion. He knows it, man. He said he’ll fight once we get a world title. So that’s my goal right now to get the world titles so we can make this happen,” Lopez said.
That is hilarious, Teofimo calling Lomachenko, an “Old Lion, who doesn’t want to fight the young lions.” It’s hard to know what’ going on in Lomachenko’s mind for him not to be overly excited at facing Teofimo. Maybe he sees Lopez as a young upstart, or a guy that doesn’t possess the talent to backup his tough talk. If this was a younger Lomachenko from 2013, you could say that Lopez might be in over his head if the two were roughly the same size, but it’s not 2013 anymore. This isn’t the young Lomachenko anymore, and he’s NOT fighting someone the same size as him in Lopez. Lomachenko would be fighting a guy that is roughly a drained down 140 pounder. Lomachenko is struggling with the punching power of the lightweights. You can only imagine what it’ll be like for the Ukrainian fighter to handle the power of a hard hitting light welterweight equivalent like Lopez. It doesn’t matter if Lopez isn’t as technical as Lomachenko in terms of boxing skills. Just being bigger, stronger, healthier and younger than Lomachenko will be enough for Lopez to potentially get the win. Of course, if Lomachenko chooses to move back down to super featherweight without fighting Teofimo, then there’s no worries there for the 2-time Olympic gold medalist, who Top Rank CEO Bob Arum has been comparing to Muhammad Ali in terms of talent. It would look bad if Lomachenko moved back down to the 130 lb weight class without fighting Lopez, but his boxing fans wouldn’t hold it against him if he made that move.
“I didn’t watch that fight, but I saw his face,” Lopez said about Lomachenko’s recent fight against Jose Pedraza last December. “What that tells me is it’s catching up to him. The body can only take so much. The man had 400 and something fights already in total, and that’s with all the sparring. That s— adds up, even though he’s still young. 30 something is still young, but not the way he’s looking, man. He’s already getting injured bad,” Lopez said.
Lomachenko took a lot of punishment against the light hitting Jose Pedraza last December in winning a 12 round unanimous decision. That should have been an easy fight for Lomachenko, but it was a tough one, and it left his face looking badly marked up. When you compare the way Lomachenko looked after his win over Pedraza to the way Gervonta “Tank” Davis looked after stopping him in the seventh round in 2017, it’s like night and day. Davis looked like he’d just gone for a light walk after the fight with Pedraza. He wasn’t marked up at all. It was an easy fight for Tank Davis, and that was at super featherweight. Pedraza didn’t get any stronger in fighting Lomachenko at lightweight. The difference was Lomachenko didn’t have the power, youth or whatever to dispatch Pedraza with ease the way Gervonta did. Lopez’s theory of why Lomachenko struggled against Pedraza is he’s starting to show the effects of his 400 amateur fights coupled with all the sparring he’s done over the years, as well as his 13 pro fights, which have mostly been against good opposition. Lomachenko is wearing down, according to Lopez, and he doesn’t want to fight the young, hungry lions.
“A lot of these guys are going to say that. They’re not going to want to fight me,” Lopez said about how fighters don’t want to face him. “None of these guys. I’ll be surprised if Loma takes the fight once we get the world title. Don’t be surprised if he goes back down to 130. That’s why I don’t care for it right now. It’s not relevant right now, because I don’t know what he’s going to do. It’s a big pay-per-view fight for sure,” Lopez said.
There it is. Lopez says he WON’T be surprised if Lomachenko moves back down to super featherweight without fighting him. That would obviously disappoint Top Rank if Lomachenko moves back down to 130 without fighting Teofimo, but maybe they won’t mind. By having those two fighters face other guys instead of each other, Top Rank can keep those two revenue streams going strongly rather than having one of them cut of after they fight each other. Some promoters wouldn’t mind putting their own super popular fighters in with each other, because the loser of the fight will still be popular as long as they put in a valiant effort. It depends on the promoters. Lomachenko being a little older now, starting to show signs of aging, it might not be a good thing for him to suffer a loss to Teofimo. But even if Lomachenko wins and looks bad, it wouldn’t be a good thing for his career. It would show the other young lions that Lomachenko is ready to be beaten, and they’ll no longer be wary of wanting to fight him. Gervonta already wants Lomachenko, and you can imagine Mikey Garcia and Miguel Berchelt want a piece of him as well.
“Four times this year; April, July and then December,” Lopez said to Fighthype about wanting to fight four times in 2019. “It could be in the works for December. After we win the world title, we’ll shoot up to 140, and then it’ll be 2 to 3 times a year. If I win the title in July, then it’ll definitely be one in December, and then move to 140. My body is ready to go to 140,” Lopez said.
If Lomachenko is able to take the fight against IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey instead of Teofimo in July, there will be no point in him giving the New Yorker Teofimo the fight that he so badly wants. If Lomachenko decides to stick to his words of only wanting to fight Teofimo if he has a world title, then he’ll be able to ignore him if he doesn’t have a strap in his possession this year. Under that scenario, the only way Lopez can win a world title at lightweight is if he gets a shot at WBC champion Mikey or fight for the vacant WBC belt if he gives it up or has it stripped from him.